Juventus missed the chance to go 9 points clear at the top of the Serie A table as they were held to a 0-0 draw at Stadio Comunale Friuli by Udinese. With Roma failing to pick up the three points against Empoli last night, Massimiliano Allegri’s side had the chance to extend their lead but failed to take any advantage and looked really average this afternoon.
Both Max Allegri and Andrea Pirlo felt that the seven point lead over Roma at this stage meant nothing so the Bianconeri were expected to push on and grab the chance to move even further ahead in the table. An Udinese team depleted from injuries and African Cup of Nations was expected to cause Juventus few problems but an organized defensive display combined with dangerous counter attacks made for a totally different outcome. Juventus were slow out of the blocks, spending much of the time maintaining possession but failed to penetrate the stout defence to create anything noteworthy. The champions looked jaded following their midweek win over Parma in the Coppa Italia and could have gone behind if Bruno Fernandes and Cyril Thereau were a bit more clinical in front of goal. Allegri faced a selection dilemma with Claudio Marchisio’s suspension and an injury to Arturo Vidal robbing him of two major players in midfield. To cover the absence of these midfielders, Juventus reverted to a 3-5-2 with Andrea Stramaccioni also fielding his side in a similar tactical module ultimately cancelling each other out. Fernando Llorente may well be left to rue another missed opportunity as he squandered another chance to make a decisive impact this season. The Spaniard seemed to offer a new dimension in his first year at the club but there have been very few examples of what he can truly deliver in this campaign so far.
Roberto Pereyra came very close to opening the scoring against his former side but was denied by the crossbar in the second half. Allan had a fantastic game in the midfield for Udinese nullifying Frenchman Paul Pogba and preventing him from making an impact on the game. Llorente was once again replaced midway through the second half which has become a consistent stat of Juve’s season so far. He has netted just five times in 25 games in all competitions and has played only 3 full games since March 2014. He seems to lack the cutting edge and squandered a gilt-edged chance tonight from a corner. He is no longer the focal point and opposition defences are coping with him quite easily. Juventus might have been complacent due to the fact that they had a six-point advantage and one game in hand as they lacked any urgency failing to raise the tempo of the game even as the game was dying out. Danilo forced Buffon into a smart save from Di Natale’s corner but it was Carlos Tevez who had the best chance of the game to seal all the three points at the death. The Argentine somehow failed to score on a Morata counter that was set up perfectly for him by Pogba, but blasted wide from 12 yards.
Allan won 6 fouls today against Juventus, more than any other Udinese player in a Serie A game this season
Juventus have failed to score for the 3rd time in this Serie A season something they managed just once last season
It took Álvaro Morata all of about two minutes to show why he should have started ahead of Fernando Llorente. This signals that it is time for Morata to get the vast majority of the minutes from here on out this season. Llorente’s form isn’t getting any better and Morata is showing that he’s the best option to partner with Tévez these days
If Udinese had won that game, they would have thoroughly deserved it. They were clearly the better side on Sunday, and could have scored a goal or two if not for a couple of blown chances
Looking at the performance tonight, the Juventus defence did fairly well and restricted Udinese to half chances on the break which they might not have got had the midfield been at full strength. At the other end of the pitch Tevez looked blunt while Llorente continues to labor. Udinese dominated the midfield thanks to the Brazilian Allan who racked up tackles left and right, and he was basically involved in everything positive that Udinese did. He ended the match with seven tackles and two interceptions. Allan showed tonight that Pogba still remains a work in progress and the Old Lady will be disappointed with this showing in a game that was a great opportunity to put a massive gap in between themselves and their closest competition in Serie A.