20.06.2015 15:38 - in: The team S

      Fantastic February!

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      Juventus’ domestic double aspirations gather pace following a victory over Parma in the cup, as well as triumphs against Milan and Atalanta, and priceless draws away at Udinese and Cesena in Serie A

      Having reached the Coppa Italia quarter-finals after a goal-laden last-16 triumph at home to Hellas Verona, Juventus were drawn up against old foes Parma who matched them toe-to-toe throughout the 1990s.

      The Gialloblu outfit they would be facing, however, were in fact a lot different from the days of Gianfranco Zola and Faustino Asprilla. This was a team rock bottom of Italy’s top flight, currently staring relegation in the face and dogged by financial problems off the field.

      Despite their ongoing difficulties, Roberto Donadoni’s men gave a good account of themselves during the cup contest at the Stadio Ennio Tardini in late January, ensuring it would be anything but a foregone conclusion.

      A closely fought encounter, played out on a challenging pitch, saw Giorgio Chiellini and Raffaele Palladino go close early on, before ex-Bianconero Antonio Nocerino’s goalbound volley was blocked on the line.

      Little goalmouth action ensued, however, with Massimiliano Allegri choosing to shuffle his pack as the hosts sensed a possible shock on the cards. First Paul Pogba replaced Arturo Vidal, before Alvaro Morata came on for Kingsley Coman, and it was the latter substitution that helped the Old Lady to overcome a stubborn Parma outfit on 89 minutes.

      With extra time looming, the young Spaniard gathered compatriot Fernando Llorente’s inch-perfect pass and then fired under Antonio Mirante to book a semi-final match-up against Fiorentina in March.

      Allegri’s troops were once again in action four days later, travelling to the Stadio Friuli where they played Udinese in a tricky Sunday kick-off.

      The match itself was another tight affair, with the visitors trying to break down a spirited and aggressive Zebrette side who were making things difficult for the reigning champions at every turn.

      Juventus’ best chances both came in the second half, Roberto Pereyra striking the angle of post and bar before Carlos Tevez missed a gilt-edged opportunity in the dying embers of the contest.

      Despite the goalless draw, the Bianconeri could see it as a point gained towards their title tilt, especially because Roma’s stalemate against Empoli on home turf maintained the seven-point difference at the summit of Serie A.

      Six days later, the Bianconeri welcomed midtable Milan to Juventus Stadium as Allegri’s charges looked to secure a seasonal double over the Rossoneri.

      And it was the hosts who burst out the blocks from the off, Carlos Tevez beating the offside trap before slotting under Diego Lopez to raise the roof in Turin on the quarter-hour mark.

      In spite of Luca Antonelli’s momentary equaliser from a set-piece, Juventus were soon in front when Leonardo Bonucci tucked the ball home following a goalmouth scramble.

      A crucial three points in the Old Lady’s quest for a fourth successive Scudetto were then sealed midway through the second half, Morata tapping the ball into an empty net after Claudio Marchisio’s initial drive had cannoned back off the upright.

      Second-bottom Cesena provided the next opposition, and became only the sixth top flight side to claim points off the Bianconeri following a 2-2 draw at the Dino Manuzzi.

      A positive start to the night’s action saw Milan Djuric strike the ball under Gigi Buffon on 17 minutes after miscommunication among the league leaders’ rearguard.

      Ten minutes later, however, the visitors were level, Morata leaping highest to meet Pogba’s venomous cross and bag his sixth Serie A goal of the 2014/15 campaign.

      And Juventus didn’t have to wait long to edge their noses in front as Marchisio arrived first on the scene to convert a loose ball in the six-yard box past Nicola Leali just after the half-hour mark.

      Cesena subsequently grabbed an equaliser of their own on 70 minutes when Franco Brienza’s fine strike found the top corner before Stefano Lucchini’s handball presented the Bianconeri with the opportunity to clinch victory from the penalty spot, only for Vidal to send his effort wide of the target.

      Not content to lick their wounds, Allegri’s side immediately got back to winning ways in their next game, battling back from behind to beat Atalanta 2-1 at Juventus Stadium.

      Despite Juventus enjoying the lion’s share of both possession and chances in the opening exchanges, it was the relegation-threatened Nerazzurri who grabbed a shock lead midway through the first half, Giulio Migliaccio nodding in Urby Emanuelson’s corner via the post.

      The hosts weren’t behind for long, with Fernando Llorente first coming to the rescue when he nudged the ball home from close range on 39 minutes.

      Then it was the turn of the Maestro himself Andrea Pirlo to have a say on proceedings. Having picked the ball up 25 yards out from goal, the 36-year-old curled in another excellent strike to put the Bianconeri in front at the break.

      And that’s how the scores remained, with the players now ready to turn their attentions to a moutwatering Champions League last 16 first leg clash against Borussia Dortmund in Turin.

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