The Bianconeri were on the verge of suffering an upset at the Marassi, but a second-half masterclass ensured they head for Chelsea with a spring in their step
By Kris Voakes | Italian Football Writer
It looked a bit precarious at one point, but Juventus' unbeaten run in Serie A was extended to 42 games after they came from behind to snatch victory at Genoa on Sunday, as the Bianconeri once again proved to have that extra quality which makes them most people's favourites to collect another Scudetto come May.
Ahead of their long-awaited return to the Champions League, Antonio Conte had decided to turn over his squad, leaving Arturo Vidal, Mirko Vucinic, Kwadwo Asamoah and Stephan Lichtsteiner on the bench. And for a long spell, those who had put Juve's high energy levels of 2011-12 down to the lack of midweek football seemed set to have proof of the Turin side's lack of squad depth, as they struggled to play with the same fluency as they are capable of when at full strength.
|COMING FROM BEHIND
When Juve have trailed over last 42 games
|Napoli (twice behind)
Having taken the lead through Ciro Immobile in the first half, Luigi De Canio's men had two glorious opportunities to leave Juve on the canvas, but they failed to find that knockout blow and were made to pay as the champions began to bring more familiar faces off the bench. Mario Sampirisi could not find the target for the hosts when given the benefit of a free header from a Bosko Jankovic free kick, before Andrea Bertolacci shot tamely when looking to finish a sweeping move, allowing Gianluigi Buffon to save with his legs.
On both occasions, Juve immediately went up the other end and rocked Genoa, first with a Sebastian Giovinco shot which came back off the post, the rebound from which Emanuele Giaccherini somehow turned away from goal. The second time, though, the home side would not be so fortunate, as substitute Vucinic teed up Giaccherini for the equaliser, and the Old Lady did not look back.
After Sampirisi capped a poor individual display by fouling Asamoah in the area, allowing Vucinic to put his side ahead, the Ghanaian then put the result beyond doubt with a goal of his own. It completed only a second comeback win during their 42-game run, but it could be a sign of things to come as the Bianconeri are asked greater questions by the heavier workload ahead, starting with the trip to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday to face European champions Chelsea.
The introductions of Vucinic and Asamoah were timely, and to that extent match day coach Massimo Carrera deserves some credit. Both were also extremely necessary thanks to the starters' inability to stretch Genoa and open the gaps into which Andrea Pirlo loves to play passes. However, if the first hour showed that Juve do have a depth issue, the final 30 minutes proved that they have a first XI that nobody in Italy can match. Time will tell as to whether they have enough to challenge on the continent too.
- The sun shines, the birds sing, car and moped horns beep outside and Maurizio Zamparini sacks a coach… just another day in Palermo. The controversial figure has now overseen the exit of 22 coaches since August 2002, with Giuseppe Sannino the latest man to fall foul of his trigger finger. Gian Piero Gasperini steps in after a year in the wilderness following his dismissal from Inter at the same stage last season, and he will have his work cut out now to inspire a ragged Rosanero outfit to climb up the table following their collection of just one point so far. Failure to oversee a turnaround could easily result in him becoming number 23 in Zamparini's little black book.
- Zdenek Zeman's second coming at Roma has had a little bit of everything already. After twice coming from behind at home to Catania, the Giallorossi turned in a superb display at Inter a fortnight ago, but this weekend they managed to throw away a two-goal lead in their shock defeat to Bologna. After Alessandro Florenzi and Erik Lamela had put them out in front they appeared to be home and hosed, but Alberto Gilardino inspired a collapse for the home side with a second-half brace, including a 90th-minute winner after Maarten Stekelenburg comically lost the ball in a collision with team-mate Nicolas Burdisso.
- Inter bounced back from their defeat to the Giallorossi with another away win against Torino on Sunday evening. The Nerazzurri have now won all four games on the road this season, scoring 10 goals and conceding none. Diego Milito and substitute Antonio Cassano netted at the Olimpico, but now it is the job of coach Andrea Stramaccioni to ensure that his side back up their win when they play Rubin Kazan on Thursday. If they do, they will become the first home side to win at San Siro this term at a combined sixth time of asking.
- Alongside Juventus and Napoli, Lazio remain the only other side with nine points from nine so far, with the Biancocelesti continuing their perfect start with a 3-1 lunchtime win over Chievo. Anderson Hernanes grabbed a double and added an assist for Miroslav Klose, as Lazio momentarily went top of the table. But with Napoli winning by the same score against Parma, as Goran Pandev returned to the side to score once and set up two more, including a late clincher for Lorenzo Insigne, they were displaced by Juve and the Naples side in the top two.
- And finally, congratulations to Luca Toni on a triumphant return to Fiorentina in trying circumstances. The former Italy striker pulled on the Viola shirt for the first time in five years and immediately made his mark with a goal barely 60 seconds after coming on to clinch a 2-0 win over Catania. He later dedicated the goal to "those that are, and those that are no longer," in reference to the harrowing loss of his still-born son in the summer, and thanked all those who have supported he and partner Marta over what he described as a "very difficult period".