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Verona not quite fatal for Juventus but golden run may be about to end | Serie A

Is it too quickly to invoke ‘Fatal Verona’? There are specific footballing people tales that Italy’s sporting media love to revisit, and the story of how Hellas Verona denied Milan Serie A titles with upset victories in spring 1973 and 1990 has a method of coming again round yearly.

What occurred on the Bentegodi on Saturday was not precisely a repeat. Verona’s opponents had been Juventus, for one factor, and as a substitute of beating them, they drew 1-1. The month was nonetheless solely February. Defeat was fatal to Milan in 1973 as a result of it arrived on the ultimate weekend of the season, dropping them from first to second with no time to recuperate. In 1990, they had been undone on the penultimate weekend.

The context is quite totally different for Juventus on this marketing campaign, with 15 video games left to play. But by the end of the weekend, they’d fallen 10 factors behind the league leaders, Internazionale. For a staff that has not been in a position to string collectively a profitable sequence longer than three video games, that hole appears daunting.

If this does end up to be the end of Juve’s run of 9 consecutive league titles, then Verona have performed their half. These groups already drew the reverse fixture final October, when Dejan Kulusevski’s late aim rescued the Bianconeri from a house defeat. Again then, it nonetheless felt too early for sweeping judgments of a Juventus aspect discovering their identification beneath Andrea Pirlo.

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Maybe we ought to mood our judgments of this weekend’s consequence as effectively. Juventus had been lacking seven potential starters on Saturday, with Paulo Dybala, Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Juan Cuadrado, Álvaro Morata and Arthur injured, whereas Danilo served a suspension. The one gamers on their substitutes’ bench over the age of twenty-two had been two goalkeepers, Gianluigi Buffon and Carlo Pinsoglio.

Antonin Barak climbs to head home Verona’s equaliser.
Antonin Barak climbs to head residence Verona’s equaliser. {Photograph}: Emanuele Pennacchio/EPA

Was it not earlier this identical season, although, after we marvelled on the depth of their squad? Have been there not pundits on Sunday afternoons final September who glanced over Juve’s team-sheets and argued you may make a Scudetto-winning aspect from the gamers disregarded? It did not look that method on the Bentegodi.

Juventus began effectively, Aaron Ramsey and Federico Chiesa main an early excessive press that appeared to catch Verona off guard. The hosts settled, and ended the primary half stronger, but it was nonetheless Pirlo’s staff that took the lead simply after half-time, Cristiano Ronaldo sweeping residence after neat build-up play from Ramsey and Chiesa.

One aim ought to have been sufficient for the reigning champions, in opposition to opponents whose beginning centre-forward, Kevin Lasagna, had scored twice in six months. It was not. Verona had already despatched on Miguel Veloso at half-time, and now launched Darko Lazovic to exchange Federico Dimarco at left wing-back as effectively. Each performed key roles within the equaliser.

It was Veloso who started the transfer, gliding effortlessly away from Ronaldo and Rodrigo Bentancur as they rushed at him from totally different instructions, every hoping to capitalise on an underhit go from Rolando Vieira. Reducing in from the appropriate, he moved the ball on to Mattia Zaccagni, who unfold it out once more to Lazovic on the left. His cross discovered Antonin Barak, who rose above Alex Sandro to head residence.

Verona may have gone on to win. Wojciech Szczesny had already turned one Marco Faraoni effort on to a publish at 0-0 and pushed one other effort from Lazovic on to the bar. “In fact, I’ve a little bit little bit of remorse,” confessed their supervisor, Ivan Juric, afterwards. “Within the second half we completely dominated, regardless of the very fact this wasn’t an awesome match by us.”

Juric has completed distinctive work over the previous two seasons at Verona, taking a squad with the third-smallest wage invoice within the division and protecting them within the high half of the desk regardless of missing a dependable goalscorer. Earlier than Lasagna joined on mortgage from Udinese in January, the beginning centre-forward function had rotated principally between , Andrea Favilli and Eddie Salcedo, who’ve discovered the online 3 times all season between them.

Barak, lining up most frequently as a playmaker behind the ahead line, is the staff’s main scorer on six targets. He has been a person for the massive event, with earlier strikes within the win over Napoli and draw at Milan. Requested what his secret was on Saturday, he replied: “Juric makes me run lots. But then, he does that with everybody.”

It was a self-deprecating line, but it will be mistaken to distil Verona’s overachievement down to a query of labor ethic. Juric has proven himself to be a refined tactician and glorious man-manager, furthering the event of younger gamers akin to Zaccagni and Dimarco whereas additionally placing his veterans in place to carry out to their finest.

Andrea Pirlo lost his patience with a TV reporter after the draw on Saturday evening.
Andrea Pirlo misplaced his endurance with a TV reporter after the draw on Saturday night. {Photograph}: Jennifer Lorenzini/Reuters

The cool management exerted by a 34-year-old Veloso stood in stark distinction to Juventus’s chaotic form. Ramsey, notionally on the left of a midfield three, spent a lot of his recreation nearer to the road of assault. With Federico Bernardeschi additionally looking for to push on from the wing-back place exterior him, Bentancur and Adrien Rabiot had been left with a variety of floor to cowl. Because of this, Chiesa, Juve’s handiest attacking outlet, was usually pressured to play extra cautiously on the other flank. Juric’s introduction of Lazovic was an efficient transfer to exploit the state of affairs, pushing the Italian additional again.

Pirlo was pressured to defend his alternatives at full-time. Sky Sport’s Giancarlo Padovan accused him of deploying gamers out of place and highlighted, amongst different issues, the usage of Alex Sandro on the left of a again three. The supervisor identified the shortage of obtainable options, earlier than shedding endurance and accusing his interlocutor of not watching the video games.

How a lot blame ought we to assign to a person thrown in on the deep end, promoted to first-team supervisor with no prior expertise after 9 days answerable for the Below-23s? Pirlo is not accountable for a recruitment technique that has left Juventus with too many vast gamers and none who can dictate a recreation within the centre.

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What is definite is that that is not the place the membership aspired to be, three years on from their record-breaking transfer for Ronaldo. The Portuguese has scored 26 targets in 29 video games this season, but the membership is prone to dropping out of the Serie A title race, and path 2-1 after the primary leg of their Champions League last-16 tie in opposition to Porto.

Ronaldo made no secret of his frustration at Verona’s equaliser on Saturday, throwing out his arms in disgust. With one yr left on his contract, hypothesis over his future has already begun. Pirlo insisted on the eve of this recreation that his gamers nonetheless favored their possibilities, claiming “folks nonetheless speak about the Scudetto in our altering room”. At full-time, he reframed the dialog by saying Juventus had been centered on one recreation at a time and will fear about the standings on the end.

Proper now, the desk reveals that his staff have 46 factors from 23 video games – fewer than they’ve had on the corresponding stage of any season on this run of 9 consecutive Scudetti. To attract, for a second time, with Verona was not fatal. But Juventus’s title defence is not in good well being.

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Serie A outcomes

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Roma 1-2 AC Milan, Napoli 2-0 Benevento, Crotone 0-2 Cagliari, Inter 3-0 Genoa, Udinese 1-0 Fiorentina, Sampdoria 0-2 Atalanta, Verona 1-1 Juventus, Bologna 2-0 Lazio, Spezia 2-2 Parma

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