It seemed a little early to have the Derby D' Italia in round 3 this season. With the team still getting its feet sorted out under Mazzarri some wondered if the fixture was coming just a little too soon, that we weren't ready to take on the champions yet.(I really hate calling them that) Coming into the match, I was cautiously optimistic. We had shown good work so far against Genoa and Catania, and all I wanted was for us to compete. To show that we could step up and go toe-to-toe with the big boys. To show progress.
Mazzarri didn't really surprise anyone with his lineup, sticking with basically the same formation as last week with the exception of Taider coming in for Kovacic. I was okay with that decision. Kovacic hasn't really gelled into this formation yet, likely due to his injury and lack of a preseason. Plus Taider allowed for a slightly more defensive/counterattacking formation, with Kovacic able to come on later when Juve was more tired. Alvarez started again supporting Palacio up front while everything else remained the same.
Things that stood out for me:
Taider impressed me quite a bit, with a passing accuracy of 98% (statistics by WhoScored). He was a little rash on a few tackles, but overall I would say he was solid. I could see him filling in for Cambiasso or Guarin in the future.
Cambiasso rolled back a few years yesterday. Yes he did have one or two mistakes (including a pretty bad pass that let to a dangerous Juve counterattack) but he was overall pretty dominant in the center of the pitch, with 5 tackles and 5 interceptions (leading the team in tackles and only being bested in interceptions by JJ and Campagnaro). He even made a few good runs up the field when Palacio drifted out wide. Now I'm not proclaiming that Cuchu is back, I'm just happy that he stepped up in a big game like this.
Alvarez has found his place in this team. Part of me is a little worried that I may be premature in saying this but I think at this point, he has proven to me that he deserves to be here. He is flowing with the team, linking up well and being a general pain the ass for opponents (4 key passes, 6 dribbles, and 2 fouls on him, leading the team in each). He is also tracking back and making tackles, including the steal from Chiellini that allowed for his assist to Icardi. I'm glad the club had faith in him, and now Ricky is starting to pay off.
Palacio and Icardi I'm going to do these two together. Palacio was alright this game. He tried to pick up the ball as much as he could, and drifted out to the wings a lot as well. Part of the reason he did that was to spread Juve's centerbacks so Alvarez and others could make good runs into any open space. Part of the problem with that was a lot of times Palacio would get the ball out on the wings and there wouldn't be anyone in the middle to support him. Alvarez would often show up and Guarin would sometimes make a run but that was it. There was no constant presence in the center to help him out. This changed when Icardi came in. With Icardi in the center Palacio could drift out wide and leave Juve's defense much more exposed especially with Alvarez still making runs from the midfield. Also Icardi must love playing against Juventus. 4 goals in 3 appearances against them. Beautiful.
Campagnaro was a beast again as usual. When he picked up that early yellow I worried that he might have some problems considering his style of play but he handled himself well. Jonathan wasn't as impressive as he has been the first two games but Juve is considerable better than Genoa and Catania. Still I was disappointed when Asamoah beat him at the line to assist the Vidal goal. Guarin started the game pretty badly. He improved towards the end of the first half and during the second however. Handanovic was solid when needed. He was rooted to the spot for the goal but I don't blame him for that.
Like I said at the beginning of the article I wanted to see us put up a good fight against Juve. The boys did that and I give full credit to Mazzarri. He has drilled and ran the players into the ground, getting them back to the basics. Solid defending, compact midfield, and quick counterattacks. I would imagine that the defense got a few words in their ear about the Vidal goal but overall I was happy about the game. I'm still not going to say that we are definite Scudetto challengers but we have the potential to be up at the top parts of the table at the end of the season. Potential. Progress.
(This is my first blog post ever so if you guys have any comments/criticism please let me know.)