Cesena 2-2 Juventus: Alessandro Matri's Brace Insufficient To Give Juventus The Win

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Cesena Vs. Juventus: A Comedy Of Errors Leads To A 2-2 Draw

A match pitting a team that hadn't scored in nearly 350 minutes against a side threatened with relegation rarely has the makings of a thrilling encounter. But while the game between Juventus and Cesena may not be held up as a model of fabulous, flawless football, it certainly provided plenty of "oohs" and "ahhs," often punctuated with laughter. Alessandro Matri grabbed two for the visitors, proving that at least one player on Juventus can score, before Luis Jiménez converted a penalty to bring Cesena within one. In between, Emanuele Giaccherini nominated himself for worst miss of the Serie A season, Gianluigi Buffon nearly saw another straight red, and Marco Motta collected a second yellow before the halftime break.  After play resumed, things calmed down a bit, although all the pressure was coming from the Seahorses. It paid off in the 80th minute when Marco Parolo drove a loose ball into the back of the net for the 2-2 equalizer.

Matri, who had a goal called back in the ninth minute for offside, opened the scoring for Juventus. Alessandro Del Piero took the ball up from midfield, weaving through the Cesena defense to slide the pass through to Matri. A hard shot caught goalkeeper Francesco Antonioli slightly unawares, with him unable to do anything but dive toward the ball.

Giaccherini missed an absolute shocker a few minutes later, going one on one with Gigi Buffon before sending a shot off the post. Giaccherini picked up his own rebound but rather than simply poking the ball into the open net, he sent the shot high and wide.

Despite the Cesena pressure, it was Juventus that scored the second, even though Del Piero did his gosh-darned best to emulate Giaccherini, sending his shot against the Cesena post. Matri was there to meet the rebound, however, consorting his body to get the ball into the back of the net. The former Cagliari man has now scored the last five goals for Juventus.

Cesena pulled one back before the break, earning a penalty kick when Gigi Buffon charged out to push Parolo off his feet. Jiménez converted, taking it quickly while Buffon and others were still distracted by a flare burning near the goal. The keeper's foul was a clear red by the book, but he escaped with just a yellow.

Juventus weren't as lucky when they gambled on Motta. The defender, out of favor recently, did a poor job of selling himself. He'd earned his first yellow by the 23rd minute and was sent off in the 43rd after a high challenge on Giaccherini. The teams headed off for their cappuccino break 2-1, but Cesena had to be a bit more confident, knowing they at least had a man advantage for the second half.

Sure enough, it was the Seahorses that came out flying in the second half. In this situation, of course, you expect Juventus to tighten up and simply do everything in their power to keep Cesena from finding an equalizer. Instead it was Buffon who did most of the work. Giuseppe Colucci shoots -- Gigi saves. Erjon Bogdani shoots -- Gigi saves. Jiménez shoots, Buffon saves, Colucci comes in to grab the ball, falls down, Giaccherini takes the shot instead, again -- Gigi saves.

It took Cesena almost until the end of the match, but eventually they managed to break through the gloves of Buffon. Maurizio Lauro sent in a free kick, which fell to Vincenzo Iaquinta. The Juventus man, brought in to replace Matri, failed to clear, allowing Parolo to charge through and put the ball in the back of the net.

Juventus had a chance in injury time to take all three points, but Antonioli just managed to collect the header from Iaquinta before the onrushing Leonardo Bonucci could jump in. Cesena come away with a deserved point, but the question remains: will one point from five matches be enough to save Gigi Delneri from the ax?

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Cesena Vs. Juventus: Alessandro Matri With A Brace, Luis Jimenez Converts Penalty, Juventus Down To Ten

Anyone worried that the match between Cesena and Juventus would be a dull affair, appropriate to the black and white uniforms the clubs are sporting, has already been proven wrong. Alessandro Matri grabbed two goals inside 35 minutes, Emanuele Giaccherini missed from two yards out, Luis Jiménez converted a penalty and Marco Motta got himself sent off. All before the halftime whistle. It's 2-1 to Juventus now, but in this match, it looks as though anything can happen.

Matri, who scored Juventus's last goal, four games ago against Inter Milan, made it clear from the start that he wanted to put his side ahead. Eight minutes in he charged forward to put in a rebound, but the flag went up for offside. No matter, Matri had his first about ten minutes later, after Alessandro Del Piero took the ball halfway up the pitch, guiding it with both his head and his feet on a weaving, bouncing run. Del Piero put the ball through two Cesena defenders for Matri, whose shot found the far corner.

A frantic attempt at an equalizer for Cesena produced one of the worst misses in Serie A this season. Giaccherini, who scored twice last weekend against Sampdoria, broke through the Juventus defense to send a sharp shot in. The ball rebounded off the post and fell again to Giaccherini, who simply needed to tap it into an open net. Instead he somehow sent the ball high and toward the corner flag.

The second Juventus goal was nearly as comedic. Del Piero made every effort to pull a Giaccherini, knocking his shot against the post. In this case, however, Matri was there to save the day, twisting his body and executing a high kick to get the ball into the net.

At the 40th minute, Gigi Buffon was extremely lucky not to be sent off for the second time since his return from injury, charging forward to bring down Marco Parolo. A red card offense, but somehow the goalkeeper managed to get away with just a yellow. Jiménez converted the penalty while Buffon was slightly distracted by a flare burning near his net.

Motta, getting a rare start for Juventus, was not so fortunate as his teammate, seeing his second yellow before the halftime whistle for a high footed challenge on Giaccherini. Whether Juventus will hold on for the win with just ten men remains to be seen.

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Cesena Vs. Juventus: Lineups -- Gigi Delneri Refuses To Deviate From 4-4-2

Gigi Delneri is hoping that Alex Del Piero will give Juventus a much needed injection of creativity, adding the captain up front alongside Alessandro Matri. Perhaps a double - sandro is some sort of magical pairing that makes Juventus invincible?

In other Juve news, Alberto Aquilani returns from injury while Simone Pepe is back from suspension. As for Cesena, they've elected to not play their -sandro, regulating Alessandro Rosina to the bench as Erjon Bogdani returns from his suspension. It's quite possible that the Seahorses believe that pitting one Alessandro up against two others would result in their Alessandro disappearing, so they decided to play it safe.

Cesena Starting XI (likely 4-3-3): Antonioli; Santon, Pellegrino, Von Bergen, Lauro; Caserta, Colucci, Parolo; Jimenez, Bogdani, Giaccherini

Substitutes: Calderoni, Benalouane, Piangerelli, Ceccarelli, Appiah, Malonga, Rosina

Juventus Starting XI (likely 4-4-2): Buffon; Motta, Bonucci, Chiellini, Traore; Krasic, Marchisio, Aquilani, Pepe; Del Piero, Matri

Substitutes: Storari, Grygera, Sorensen, Buchel, Spinazzola, Martinez, Iaquinta.

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Cesena Vs. Juventus, Preview: Can The Old Lady Find A Spark Of Creativity?

Week in, week out, it feels as though the same storyline is repeated: Juventus have to win this week. This will be the week that they turn the season around. And when they won two in a row, with the second a 1-0 victory over Inter Milan, it seemed that the Old Lady had found a way to redeem herself, that she'd manage to find a way into the Champions League positions.

Now, almost exactly a month later, Juventus have lost the plot once again. They've lost their last three matches and, even more tellingly, have failed to score in each of them. They're down a blind alley and they can't craft a suitable twist that enables Miloš Krasić to find a rope, grab Alessandro Matri and swing across the brick wall to safety. The analogy might seem silly, yet it perfectly encapsulates Juventus: players trapped in the final third of the pitch, unable to find that creative twist that enables a goal.

After losing Fabio Quagliarella for the rest of the season, then breaking Luca Toni as soon as they brought him on (he's fine now; they've used some super glue and think the patch will hold for a few more weeks), it seemed as though Juventus had found a solution when they bought Matri from Cagliari. He scored two goals against his former club before providing the winner against Inter, but since that match, Matri has fizzled out, with both he and Krasić easily shut down.

As for Cesena, the Seahorses are flying high these days. Seven points from three matches have lifted them out of the drop zone, although barely -- they're still tied on points with Lecce. A win over Juventus would provide a safety net for Cesena, and although they might not be daring to dream (after all, every week is the week Juventus could turn this around), it may be as simple as concentrating on neutralizing the Juventus attack. With Gigi Delneri intent on playing a 4-4-2 week in, week out, it's become almost too easy for the opposition to shut them out.

Recently, the best match for Juventus was against Cagliari, when they fielded a 4-1-4-1 with Matri in front. Should Delneri return to such a strategy, he might save both his job and a European position for the club. But just a simple change, such as Alex Del Piro returning to the starting XI, will likely not be enough for a Juventus victory. In that case, Gigi should have his suitcases packed.

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