Friday, July 31, 2009

Let Juventus entertain you

Seria A is bit of a mess at the moment. Unbearable taxes are putting restraints on even the richest clubs in Italy. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Kaka, the two giants in Italian football over the last 5 years, have both left for Spain. Fiorentina, while often exuberant and exciting, do not have a team good enough to challenge for any major trophy this season. Roma are Roma, eternally disappointing and always only a game away from an embarrassing whooping against any English team. Milan is the geriatric department and they don’t seem likely to offer us anything new or remotely exciting this season either. With that depressing outlook in mind, why should we even bother with Seria A this season? The answer is Juventus. Let the forever boring Old Lady entertain you.

Starting from the back, it’s fair to say that Juventus boast one of the best keepers in the world, if not the very best. World cup winner Gigi Buffon, as well as being Juventus’ vice-captain, an inspiration and a true gentleman, is also a man who makes very few mistakes between the stick. He will rarely feature in any “play of the day” report, but try and compile a YouTube video of his mistakes and it will be a very short and uneventful clip. An odd slip with the ball at his feet is the best material you’ll come up with.

In defence, Juventus can call upon a large variety of options. On the right it will be a contest of the old guard, namely between Zdenek Grygera, Jonathan Zebina and Hasan Salihamidzic. Grygera in particular is a solid defender and will probably get the nod. On the left Cristian Molinaro seems to be the obvious choice, but talented 22 year old De Ceglie is not far off either. Lauded as one of the brightest young defenders in the league, this could be his year. It is however in the centre of defence that Juventus can offer most quality and also biggest variety of players. Gio Chielini, rated by many as one of the best central defenders in the business, will be paired with one of Fabio Cannavaro, Nicola Legrottaglie and on-loan Martin Caceres (Barcelona). At the moment Cannavaro seems to be the favorite but with Legrottaglie enjoying a fine season last time around and young Caceres determined to rebuild his career after a poor year in Spain, it could be quite a battle.

The centre of midfield is often referred to as the “engine room” and this really seems to be the case at Juventus. New signing, Brazilian hyper, wild child Melo, will team up with former Liverpool ball winner Momo Sissoko in what looks to be an all action midfield. As alternatives Juve can call upon the born again, Chelsea misfit Tiago and the ever so reliable Christiano Zanetti. If Christian Poulsen stays he too might get another chance to prove himself after a poor first season at the club. Whichever pairing Juve choose it strongly indicates a conscious choice of fielding a ball winning, physical imposing midfield. Any two, out of the five above mentioned players, are capable of covering a lot of grass and will serve as a safety platform to the offensive part of Juventus’ game.

It is, however, just in front of the two holding midfielders that things get really interesting. Early indications, after analyzing Juventus’ pre season games, suggest a 4-2-3-1 formation in which Juventus’ new and unproven manager, Ciro Ferrara, looks to field three floating offensive players and one stationary striker, last season’s brilliant Amauri (the alternatives are David Trezeguet and Vicenzo Iaquinta). The group of players that will be considered for the three slots behind Amauri consists of Mauro Camoranesi, Claudio Marchisio, Alessandro Del Piero, Sebastian Giovinco and the new signing Diego. The Brazilian maestro, signed from Werder Bremen, already looks very comfortable in a Juventus shirt and providing he stays injury free, should almost singlehandedly revolutionize Juventu’s game. Young Giovinco will also want to prove himself. Being 22 he can no longer hide behind the “talented youngster” tag. It’s time for the “atom ant” to come out and play.

Ciro Ferrara’s loose 4-2-3-1 formation and his fresh ideas of a more attacking style of play is already causing waves of both excitement and frowning in Italian football. Juventus is probably the only team in the world that would rather win ugly than win pretty so young Ciro is already a brave man, tearing down walls and kicking up a fuss. On top of that, Juventus’ director Alessio Secco has promised Juventus’ fans a brand of football “similar to that of Barcelona”. My, my, my.

Juventus most certainly won’t be strong enough to push for the Champions League trophy this season. They’re not even likely to win the league as Inter are simply too strong for everybody in Italy at the moment, especially after signing true heavyweights like Lucio, Motta, Milito and Eto’o. However, what Juve are likely to achieve this season is admiration from a lot of neutrals both in Italy and the rest of Europe. For an eternally unattractive club this will be a monumental change of philosophy.

Are Juve about to trade in their “Old Lady” for a young, sexy, teen girl?


  1. They've gained my admiration in the way they've handled themselves since the scandal. They seem to be the only top club in Italy(Inter aside) who have a footballing direction. They're buying players in accordance to need and they're putting together a side that complements itself quite nicely. But as far as entertainment goes, I'm gonna have to go with Roma. Yes, they are underachieving and sometimes too dependant on the fitness of their skipper, but when on song I think they have been by far the most entertaining side in Italy for 3-4 years now. They play some dazzling football at times. If only the key parts of that team could stay healthy for a full season....

  2. I agree with your comment regarding them having a footballing direction and buying players according to needs. It's exactly why I think they may be on to something. They do, however, need more signings to become champions. The quality isn't quite there.

  3. I expect Del Piero to have another great season and Diego will be quite good too. I think Juventus can win it.

  4. Can't really argue with the comments on the likes of Roma, Milan and Forentina. I personally think that Inter have had it far too easy the last few seasons, and never really had to break too much of a sweat to take the title. Losing Zlatan for them will be huge. Eto'o is fantastic but, unlike Zlatan he's not capable of single-handedly winning games for that Inter team. Will be interesting to see how they set up this season, now that the likes of Milito, Motta and Eto'o are in.

    Anyway, Juve were lucky in that they were only ever likely to be down in Serie B for one season, and since coming bak up they've quickly re-estalished themselves at the top end of Serie A...was never in doubt given the calibre of players at their disposal.

    Del Piero is continually proving that age is just a number when you possess the kind of talent he has. Diego has already settled in superbly this pre-season, and will be an absoultely cracking signing for them. With Nedved gone, I suspect Giovinco will get more of a chance, which is great because he's a phenomenal talent. I was out in Milan last year and thought I'd see if the AC and Inter fans were as big admirers of Giovinco as myself, and to say their jealous that the lad's in Turin is an understatement.

    Irrespective of who/what combination they play up front, Amauri, Iaquinta and Trezeguet guarantee goals.

    Chiellini is the new generation of world class defender...and he isn't half handy in the opposition's box either. I like the look of De Ceglie and really hope he can cement his place in the teambut I suspect he might go off on loan. The likes of Samp, Napoli et al might not be a bad move for him for a season or so. New signing Melo is an absolute beast, and if you could have hand-picked a player for Arsenal this summer it would have been him. He'll and muscle, ferocity and goals to Juve's midfield, and could work really well with Momo's hustling style and tireless work-rate.

    All in all, I'm really looking forward to Juve this season. Agree that it's difficult to say if they will win anything this season though. They're capable of assembling a first XI as good as most in Europe, and perhaps better than all in Serie A, however, I have my doubts over the quality in their squad overall.

    Forza Juve.

  5. I think they will have a "serious" problem if Giovinco can't step up as I can't see Camoranesi or Del Piero playing at the top of the game for more than one season.

    At the moment they have a nice balance of experienced and young players but in about two seasons they will have to replace a few mature positions, like right back, attacking midfield, probably even two and centre forward.

    Anyway, a nice read with valid points.