Back in April, 2010, a Juventuse side including Del Peiro, Fabio Cannavaro, Claudio Machiso, Felippe Melo and Mauro Camaoranesi faced Udinese at the Dacia Arena. That Udinese were in a betetr shape than Juve and a young Alexis Sanchez, Simone Pepe and Antonio de Natale stunned the visitors by 3-0.

Udinese were a struggling side back then as well, but against Juve, they put up an inspiring display. Still, it did not help them to rise to the top but finish at the fifteenth place whereas Juve finished at seven – not a great result for one of the giants of European Football. In the next season, Udinese surprised everyone to finish fourth and qualify for the 2011-12 UEFA Champions League play-off round.

And that was it.

The wheels of Udinese came off quickly.

But Juventus grew stronger.

In the Serie A they had been the ultimate champions while the rest fell behind to catch up their standard. AC Milan, Inter, Napoli, AS Roma and Lazio fared well, but still, failed to match the skill and temperament of Juve. While Udinese became a side who only faced opponents to get thrashed.

Well, after more than 10 years or so, the Dacia Arena witnessed the summer of 2010, where the team with the best player in the world digested humiliation.

Juventus missed a chance to clinch their ninth successive Serie A title as they succumbed to a shock 2-1 loss to Udinese on Thursday.

Inter’s goalless draw with Fiorentina on Wednesday opened the door for Juve to secure the Scudetto with a win at the Dacia Arena but they were unable to oblige.

In the opening 42 minutes, Juve were pushed back by the attacking display of the home side – Udinese went close to getting the opener in the eighth minute but the post stopped Danilo heading Ken Sema’s cross into his own net.

Juan Musso stopped Bram Nuytinck scoring a bizarre own goal with a misjudged back pass and from the resulting corner, the Udinese goalkeeper produced a good save to keep out Paulo Dybala’s volley.

Rodrigo de Paul had a penalty appeal ignored and then Matthijs de Ligt put the Bianconeri on the path to glory towards the end of a tepid first half before Ilija Nestorovski’s excellent diving header restored parity in the 52nd minute.

The relegation battlers would continue to frustrate the Juve until winning the game for themselves in added time, as Seko Fofana would take on the Juventus defence by himself to slot past a helpless Wojciech Szczesny.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Maurizio Sarri would have to wait a bit more.

Juve have always been famous for their defensive solidity and creative play in the midfield over the years.

Antonio Conte’s rigorous back three and Massimiliano Allegri’s militant defence have defined the culture of this football club, putting them in good stead for the future.

This season Maurizio Sarri’s team has had to deal with the difficult absence of Giorgio Chiellini. The Italian suffered a cruciate ligament rupture in February and has since then been on the sidelines for 202 days, missing 38 games.

Sarri’s favoured pairing in his absence has been Leonardo Bonucci and Matthijs de Ligt, however, the experienced CB picked up his 10th yellow card of the season last time out, so had to sit this game out. This left a relatively unfamiliar pairing of de Ligt and Daniele Rugani. The duo struggled in the air against a highly combative Udinese attack and in the end, they showed themselves to not be of the desired quality.

Meanwhile, the midfield remains stagnant. Since Andrea Pirlo left, creativity gradually diminished.

Since moving to Turin on a free transfer last summer, Aaron Ramsey has flattered to deceive. The Welshman’s rumoured £400k-a-week wage has been deemed waste and his performance today only strengthened that notion. Deployed in a midfield three for his final third movement and linkup play, Ramsey displayed neither of those traits today.

In a fairly anonymous display, the 29-year-old misplaced 3 passes, was dispossessed 3 times and attempted only 1 shot on goal. Sarri quickly hooked the ineffective midfielder off 15 minutes into the second half.

It was an off day for Cristiano Ronaldo, but Paulo Dybala tried his level best  –he has regularly provided moments of brilliance to drag Sarri’s men out of the dirt but his magic ran dry.

Up against a resolute Udinese defence, Dybala struggled to find any wriggle room in the final third as he was tightly marked.

He could only find room to breathe out wide or when he dropped deep into midfield. Although he was able to create 3 chances for his teammates, Dybala himself hit 4 shots off target.

Over the 90 minutes, the forward was dispossessed 3 times and failed to complete 6 of his 9 dribbles in an exasperating display.

Still, one needs to give Udinese their due credit.

Despite starting the night in 16th place only 4 points above the relegation zone, Udinese took the game to the Champions from the first minute.

They diligently defended in a low-block but looked to press Juve’s midfielders any time they came near their final third.

This forced Sarri’s men to continually circulate the ball wide to then cross aimlessly. Whenever Le Zebrettes won possession back, they countered quickly looking to overload Juve’s exposed center-backs.

Their quick transitions caught Sarri’s men off-guard, leading to two well-taken goals. With only 39% possession, Udinese managed to attempt 11 shots on goal, completed 13 dribbles, 22 tackles, 19 clearances, 12 interceptions, won 3 corners, and scored 2 all-important goals.


Luca Gotti’s men have now moved up one place in the league, all but securing their stay in Serie A.

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