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Horncastle: Pelle takes his chance

Italy 6 days ago
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50-50 Challenge: AC Milan vs. Juventus

Preview Sep 19, 2014
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Apr 24, 2014

It's not over for the defeated Old Lady


Juventus may have suffered their first Europa League defeat but there's every reason to believe that they can overturn the 2-1 result at home, in Turin, in front of their own fiery fans next week. The away goal was vital but squandering such valuable chances may be something the Old Lady come to regret. After all, efficiency is the name of the game in matches such as these. - Report: Benfica 2-1 Juventus - Report: Conte: Juve defence 'caught napping' The Portuguese side are blessed with great pace and while their decision making needs to improve, they are good at exposing space and making the most of defensive errors. Scoring the early goal, Leonardo Bonucci erred on a set piece when he focused on the man and not the ball. This rattled Juve but they were also aware of the fact they had plenty of time to get the equaliser. With swift passes through the middle, chips over the wall, they counter-attacked when possible but were met with a strong back-line and a team that defended as a strong and compact unit making it hard to penetrate. Always taking an extra touch when it wasn't required or attempting the glamorous quick flick forward rather than just a simple pass, Juventus at times complicate the issue when simplicity is key. Quick counter-attacks are important but it means little if precision is lost in the process. It certainly didn't help that Paul Pogba, despite his imperious form, seemed desperate to move forward; Carlos Tevez attempted to dribble past everyone in search for his goal and Mirko Vucinic slowed down the play to frustrating levels. The Italians lacked composure when looking for a goal, forcing the issue when patience was required. We have seen this from them far too often. With Andrea Pirlo consistently looking to chip the ball and passes that were quickly dispatched but inaccurate in their direction, they allowed Benfica to feel comfortable. Patience is a quality Juve must demonstrate. The players simply have to retain possession and identify the best possible option for the pass rather than needlessly playing the ball forward regardless of the number of bodies in their way. Despite this, one has to acknowledge what a breathtaking player Tevez is. His control on the ball and instinctive style of play are really a pleasure to watch, while his goal -- that vital goal -- was a demonstration of beautiful technique. However, it's been said in this blog before and it needs to be said again: he plays for himself far too often rather than looking at the bigger picture. This shows a lack of respect for team play. Whether it is because of his burning desire to net a European goal or simply because it's his style of play, he needs to look up and accurately judge whether or not there's someone better placed to take control of the ball. Head down and dribbling forward may result in a spectacular goal, but more often than not it leaves teammates and the fans frustrated. On this occasion it was Vucinic who suffered. The second half saw manager Antonio Conte address certain issues. Asking his players to keep the ball and look for the right pass at the right time, the Bianconeri were better at making the most of the space on the wings and penetrating different areas to stretch the opposition. It is here that one must note how much Kwadwo Asamoah ought to be appreciated. He's not a player of the highest level but he's more technical than Stephan Lichtsteiner and his contributions in both phases of the game are important if not crucial. Not only did his clever passing help get the goal but he's also essential when it comes to his positioning in the defensive part of the game to prevent the counter-attacks. Those counter-attacks are part of Benfica's DNA. Blessed with pace and skill going forward, the manner in which they shift their play and expose the gaps demonstrates their strength. Benfica boss Jorge Jesus perhaps erred in not starting Lima. The player brings added mobility and allows for faster and better movements. Had he started, Benfica might have produced more even if he managed a terrific second goal for his team. However, Juventus missed their own player capable of making the difference -- Arturo Vidal. While the Chilean's forward play is essential (he would have probably finished off a certain chance or two), he's even more important in the defensive stage of the game. The Bianconeri needed to be more compact and ought to have tightened their lines to counter Benfica's pace and prevent them from shooting to grab the second goal. Instead, they made schoolboy errors at the back and it was embarrassing to see certain runs not being tracked -- such as the one Benfica striker Rodrigo managed in the first half. Juventus must and should overcome the scoreline next week. They have the players, the personality and the superior technical skill, but they simply must eradicate the errors from their game and play together and with intelligence if they hope to reach the final. They believe and so do their fans.