Juventus
    Juventus
      22.06.2015 12:57 - in: The team S

      Marching towards success

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      Massimiliano Allegri's men continue to make significant strides in both Serie A and Europe, even after suffering a narrow Coppa Italia semi-final first leg defeat to Fiorentina

      With the season now edging towards its crunch stage, Juventus were still heavily involved in three competitions, looking to complete an unprecedented treble in the club’s history.

      A Coppa Italia semi-final first leg against Fiorentina provided the Bianconeri’s second obstacle of March, as they attempted to book their place in the season’s showpiece event at the Stadio Olimpico.

      Despite a much-changed side giving a good account of themselves throughout the clash at Juventus Stadium, it was the Viola who drew first blood by triumphing 2-1.

      Vincenzo Montella’s men initially grabbed the lead on 11 minutes, Mohamed Salah turning on the turbo to waltz his way past the Old Lady’s rearguard before burying a strike into the top corner of the net.

      The hosts were level almost immediately, though, with Fernando Llorente nodding in Simone Pepe’s cross from close range for his first goal in the 2014/15 season’s tournament, setting up a barnstorming second half in the process.

      But the half-time team talks in the dressing room seemed to spur Fiorentina on with greater attacking intent, and the visitors soon regained the lead once again through Salah, who curled home after darting past a couple of challenges on 56 minutes.

      Late pressure from the Bianconeri failed to yield an equaliser, and they would have it all to do when travelling to the Stadio Artemio Franchi in early April.

      Determined to get the cup defeat out of their systems, Juventus welcomed Sassuolo to Turin for a Monday evening kick-off just four days later.

      And following Roma’s draw with Chievo 24 hours earlier, the league leaders had the chance to go 11 points clear at the summit of Italy’s top flight  if they could overcome the midtable Neroverdi at Juventus Stadium.

      But Eusebio Di Francesco’s men didn’t stick to the pre-match script, defending resolutely up against the reigning champions exactly as they did in October’s 1-1 draw in Emilia-Romagna.

      With the scores still level on 82 minutes and another league stalemate seemingly on the cards, Paul Pogba brought the Bianconeri faithful to their feet by breaking the deadlock in spectacular fashion.

      An incisive pass from substitute Simone Pepe found the Frenchman who controlled the ball with one touch before firing an unstoppable volley past Andrea Consigli from all of 25 yards to seal all three points.

      There was more joy for the crowd late on when Andrea Barzagli replaced Tevez to make his long-awaited comeback following a heel injury and helped the hosts to see out an important victory.

      Up next for Juventus was a tricky away trip to Giuseppe Iachini’s Palermo, a team who were enjoying an unbeaten run at the Stadio Renzo Barbera dating back to September 2014.

      And the Bianconeri were once again made to wait patiently for their chance to strike in an evenly-matched affair in Sicily, with substitute Alvaro Morata ultimately providing the magic moment 20 minutes before the final whistle.

      Having entered the field of play in place of compatriot Fernando Llorente on the hour mark, the young Spaniard took his first opportunity like a seasoned professional, sending in an unstoppable curling strike that gave Stefano Sorrentino no chance between the Rosanero sticks.

      It was a phenomenal goal that kept the Old Lady riding high at the top of the table, 14 points clear of second-placed Roma and with a fourth consecutive Scudetto now in their sights.

      Serie A duties dealt with, it was once again time for Champions League fever to take hold as Allegri’s charges visited Borussia Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion for their last 16 second leg showdown.

      Following their 2-1 victory in the first clash at Juventus Stadium three weeks earlier, the Bianconeri knew that only a draw was needed to send them through to the quarter-finals for the second time in three seasons.

      Instead of resting on their laurels and spending the next 90 minutes defending, however, the visitors went ahead almost immediately courtesy of a blockbuster Carlos Tevez strike that flew past Roman Weidenfeller and nestled into the back of the net.

      With Dortmund now needing to score twice to force extra-time, Jurgen Klopp’s side continued to leave gaps in behind and were punished midway through the second half, Alvaro Morata tapping Tevez’s square ball home to book Juventus’ spot in the next round.

      But the scoring wasn’t finish there as L’Apache bagged his second and the Old Lady’s third to add further gloss to a spectacular performance from the reigning Italian champions who left Germany with a 3-0 (5-1 aggregate) triumph.

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