By Kris Voakes | Italian Football Editor
On paper, it was a good day’s work for Juventus. Three goals, three points and a return to the top of the Serie A table were just what the doctor ordered for Antonio Conte’s side, three weeks on from their last fixture. But in many ways it was a real taster ahead of a vital month to come as Palermo asked many questions that other teams have been unable to until now.
The Sicilians enjoyed the majority of territory – something not experienced by a visiting side to Juventus Stadium since Parma in the arena’s inaugural match – and were also the first team to really get on top of the Bianconeri’s midfield for any discernible length of time.
For long stretches of the opening period, Giulio Migliaccio, Armin Bacinovic and Edgar Barreto went about their task of holding out the home side’s most vaunted department by bypassing them with precise passes into space, feeding Josip Ilicic and Fabrizio Miccoli early in order to turn Juve around. Even in the second half after daylight had been developed between them and Palermo on the scoreboard, the Old Lady gave up a fair amount of ball in crucial areas of the pitch.
But while the Rosanero have collected five wins from five on home turf, they are a different animal on the road, and in all truth Juventus were always in command. Simone Pepe ghosted in between Mauro Cetto and Federico Balzaretti, thanks in part to Stephan Lichtsteiner’s run on the outside of the attack, to head home from Giorgio Chiellini’s pinpoint cross. From then Palermo were playing catch-up, but still they had success when feeding the ball into space behind Juve’s midfield.
|MATCH FACTS | Juventus 3-0 Palermo
It took Alessandro Matri’s goal just after half-time to put the visitors out of sight. The striker struck low across the unconvincing Alexandros Tzorvas to double the home side’s advantage, and later cleverly stepped over Mirko Vucinic’s low cross after a great run to allow Claudio Marchisio to add a third.
The 3-0 result and the ability to see off the probing questions of Devis Mangia’s outfit could well be a springboard for a side now top of the table with a game in hand and still unbeaten this season. But conversely, it could also give Conte plenty to ponder.
Often, lessons can be learned in defeat, while victories can mask shortcomings, and the Juve coach must hope that he can get more solid displays out of Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Marchisio than he did for long spells of yesterday’s win. There are also still improvements to be made at the back, with Leonardo Bonucci in particular being found wanting by Miccoli and Ilicic at times. Gianluigi Buffon ended up doing more work than the home fans would have hoped.
But it was across the middle that they have new issues. And in the month running up to the Christmas break, they are going to have to negotiate more equipped outfits than Palermo, with trips to Lazio, Napoli, Roma and Udinese set to really test their mettle.
And to that end, yesterday’s result could be a real boost, or the nature of the performance may provide a fillip for their forthcoming adversaries. With a make-or-break month ahead, Palermo may have shown the way to the rest of the league, despite their heavy defeat. But if Juve remain top on December 22nd, then the title could be theirs for the taking.
- Congratulations to Parma on their excellent 2-0 victory over former league leaders Udinese, with Sebastian Giovinco at the heart of a result which helped to send his co-owners Juventus to the top of the charts. It was ‘La Formica Atomica’s corner which was turned in by Jonathan Biabiany for the Ducali to take the lead, and he went one better later on by doubling the advantage. Giovinco continues to be a key asset in Turin!
- Roma did their best to waste a largely dominant display as they held on for a narrow 2-1 win against Lecce at the Olimpico, but that was also partly down to an unbelievable offside call on perhaps the goal of the season so far. Pablo Daniel Osvaldo's perfectly-executed bicycle kick arrowed into the top corner, only for it to be ridiculously ruled out by the linesman's flag. Had the Salentini grabbed a late leveller, there will have been serious questions to be answered by the team of officials.
- German Denis’ excellent form in front of goal continues, with a brace at Siena sending him ahead of Antonio Di Natale in the capocannoniere charts on nine goals. It wasn’t quite enough for his Atalanta side to continue their magnificent start to the season though, as the Tuscans twice pegged them back to earn a point, extending their own positive return to Serie A.
- Bologna did their best to promote good relations with their Emilia-Romagna rivals by gifting Cesena their first victory of the season at the Renato dall’Ara. In an uninspiring clash, the home side had had three or four decent chances to make the most of their superiority before seeing Marco Parolo snatch a late win for Daniele Arrigoni’s outfit. While Cesena remain bottom, Stefano Pioli’s men are now just two points above the bottom three.