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?