Black and White Stripes Weekly Column: Your Home for Everything Juventus, Week 2
This week we bring you...
As well as Buffon's contract extension, a look to the Genoa clash and a player profile you will not want to miss.
All you need to know out of Turin is here, in Black and White Stripes. Leave us your comments thought and suggestions below.
Co-written by Adrian Agius and Gianni Verchueren.
Editorial: Last Week Was Filled with Questions, This Week Provided Us Answers
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By Gianni Verschueren
Sure, Juve had Lazio on the ropes and should have won that game 100 percent of the time, but when you’re playing backups against arguably the second-best team in Italy right now, you shouldn’t complain with such a result.
Besides, it’s just the Coppa d’Italia. The Bianconeri are defending the Serie A title and looking for European glory...the cup isn’t that important.
What is important is getting healthy. From that perspective, watching Claudio Marchisio play against Lazio was a joyful sight. The homegrown midfielder and fan favourite was expected to be out for several more weeks, and his swift recovery makes up for the nagging injuries that have kept Andrea Pirlo out of back-to-back games.
Federico Peluso scored his first goal for the Bianconeri with a headed effort that opened the scoring against Lazio. His performance in that game was more than solid, considering he was forced to fill in for Kwadwo Asamoah on the left wing.
Peluso’s main strengths lie in defense, but his offensive contributions didn’t go unnoticed. His performance might have been far from perfect, but it was a step in the right direction after his bad showing against Sampdoria.
His inclusion in the starting XI was bad news for Paolo De Ceglie, though. Last year’s choice left back is having a poor season and the fact that coach Antonio Conte would prefer to start a depth player with limited experience at the position over him is a bad omen. His time in Turin might soon be coming to an end.
This week’s standouts were Paul Pogba and Mauricio Isla. The young Frenchman scored two stunning goals against Udinese and played 180 minutes of solid, mature football. He’s progressing right on schedule and is giving the coaching staff every reason to give him the minutes he so desires.
Isla got the start on the right wing against Lazio and put together one of his best performances of the season. The Chilean had been one of the bigger disappointments during the first part of the season, showing a lack of understanding of the right back position in the 3-5-2 formation.
But against the Biancocelesti, he played a complete game, harassing the opponent's wingers defensively and contributing nicely on the offensive end.
One last mention should go to Emanuele Giaccherini. I’ve been hard on him all season because he has failed to impress me as a right winger in Juve’s 4-3-3, but he was on point against both Udinese and Lazio.
He played right behind Alessandro Matri for the Coppa clash and made great use of his dribbling skills and speed to make life hard on Lazio’s defense, and Conte might have found a new use and position for the Italy international.
Next week, Juve will host Genoa before travelling to Roma to take on Lazio with the Coppa d’Italia final at stake.
Genoa are struggling at the bottom of the Serie A table and have not been in good shape, but they have a tendency to make life very hard on Juventus. Back in September, the Bianconeri beat Genoa 1-3 in a game that was not as lopsided as the score line might suggest.
Ciro Immobile is one player to watch: the young attacker is co-owned by Juve and was rumoured to return to Turin in January before Genoa announced they had no intention of letting him go.
Genoa will most likely play for the draw as they need every point they can get their hands on in order to fight off relegation. They’ve lost their last two games and didn’t look convincing in the process, and a lack of confidence could result in even more defensive play.
Lazio don’t need an introduction. They are a well-organised, blue-collar type of football team with Italy’s most in-form and most underrated goalkeeper in Federico Marchetti.
What’s more, a scoreless draw would see Lazio through on by virtue of away goals, so Juve will need to attack the Biancocelesti goal early.
Miroslav Klose could be back in action and will provide Lazio with more of a goal-scoring threat, and it remains to be seen whether Andrea Pirlo can reprise his role as conductor of Juve’s offense.
Latest Transfer Rumours
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By now, you re probably sick to death of hearing about Juventus trying to land the services of Athletic Bilbao forward Fernando Llorente. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I do have some pleasing news for you all after Goal.com reported that Juventus have finally wrapped up a deal for the Spanish international.
Llorente, whose contract at Bilbao comes to an end at the end of the season, is reported to have agreed to a deal with Juve, albeit resulting in lower wages. He will join the club at the end of the season on a free transfer—effectively a reward for Juventus' patience.
The fact that the Bianconeri were able to sign Llorente without having to dish out a transfer fee brings up the question, could another striker arrive in Turin by the end of the season? One would certainly think so, especially considering Juventus' busy schedule throughout the season.
If Goal.com has anything to say about that, it's that Juventus are in the hunt for Lyon striker Lissandro Lopez. Despite this, The Old Lady wants to secure Lopez's services on a loan deal rather than a permanent deal. With the knockout stages of the Champions League coming up, Lopez could prove an effective addition in Turin.
In other and perhaps more startling news, Juventus prodigy Paul Pogba has become the subject of transfer talks away from Juventus. Although nothing is concrete yet and everything is mere speculation, Pogba's agent has come out and said (via Goal.com) "What is he worth? He is not for sale so has no value. [Giuseppe] Marotta can stay calm, he will stay in Turin until July definitely."
I, like many Juventus tifosi, consider Pogba to be the future linchpin of the Bianconeri midfield. With 18 appearances under his belt this season alone, Juventus should do everything possible to keep him, as well as try to instill the mentality that playing for Juventus is an honour, rather than a springboard to big-money offers. If this happens, the Frenchman could very well go down into Juventus history.
What Are They Saying?
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The big news out of Turin this week was definitely Juventus' resigning of legend Gianluigi Buffon for a further two years.Here are a selection of quotes from the press conference following his extension. (Provided by Juventus.com)
"I haven’t received any other offers over the past few months, but I would have turned them down anyway. Juventus have become a way of life for me. When something gets under your skin, it’s a struggle to see yourself wearing another shirt."
"I still remember my first day at Juventus as if it were yesterday. I came from the provincial environment of Parma, who I will always be grateful to, and my only fear was that I might not be up to the standard required by the club."
"The fans have been an extremely important influence throughout my time with the club. Knowing you’re appreciated and urged on is something that you can’t put a price on. But I also have a great relationship with my team-mates, club staff and management. The recognition and respect as a player and a man have come from various quarters."
Ahead of Juventus' tie with Lazio in the Coppa Italia. Lazio manager Vladimir Petkovic expressed his respect for the Binaconeri as a club (via Goal.com)
"Juventus are the team to beat, the strongest team in the league,"
"Tuesday's encounter and the one in Rome will see a great 180 minutes of football. We have to avoid any lapse in concentration which could cost us dearly."
Gianluigi Buffon Signs for Another Two Years
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And so, the legend lives on. The legend of Gianluigi Buffon, that is, after the Italian shotstopper signed a two-year extension on his contract at Juventus, keeping him at Turin until the tender age of 36 years.
With Buffon still in stellar form, the decision to renew Buffon's contract was practically a formality, as he was offered a two-year extension by Juventus, as opposed to the single year initially proposed by Buffon's agent.
Buffon joined the club in 2001 from Parma and since then has not looked back occupying Juve's No. 1 position between the sticks during that entire time. This year, he was nominated for UEFA's team of the year, but missed out at the hands of Iker Casillas (personally, I believe he should've been included).
When compared to the other keepers nominated for UEFA's team of the year, Buffon has actually conceded the least goals per match out of any of his counterparts. Statistically, he is world class.
He also serves at the captain of the club following the departure of Alessandro Del Piero.
Player Profile: Michel Platini
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Name: Michel Platini
Position: Central midfielder
Kit number: 10
Appearances: 222 games
Years at Juventus: Five
In response to a request made by user Joya Joy, we’ll profile legendary midfielder Michel Platini this week.
One of the best players to ever wear the black and white, Platini can only be described as the greatest goal-scoring midfielder in the history of the game. The numbers speak for themselves: 103 goals in 222 games. Most strikers can only dream of such consistency.
Platini might be best remembered around Turin for scoring the only goal in the European Cup final against Liverpool, a game that was overshadowed by the events leading up to the first whistle (Google the Heysel drama if you have no idea).
The No. 10 jersey has been worn by some of the greatest Bianconeri ever; Alessandro Del Piero and Roberto Baggio come to mind. But Platini might have been the player that started the magic of the legendary No. 10.
His tenure at Turin only lasted for five seasons, but he left the fans with a nice parting gift by convincing another talented young Frenchman to join the Bianconeri.
His name? Zinédine Zidane.
If you would like a specific player looked at, let us know in the comments below.
Flashback File: Del Piero’s Bicycle Kick vs Milan
This week we remember one of the most famous goals in Bianconeri history: David Trezeguet’s header that proved to be the only goal in a win over bitter rivals Milan back in 2005.
Even though the 2005 and 2006 Italian titles were eventually taken away from Juventus, the period will always be remembered by the fans as one of complete dominance by the Bianconeri, and the apex of the partnership of Trezeguet and Alessandro Del Piero.
No single moment represents this more than the goal at the San Siro. The Rossoneri were very keen on a win over their rivals and came out of the gates firing on all cylinders.
Juve were having a tough afternoon in front of an exceptionally hostile crowd until Pavel Nedved broke through on the left flank in the 27th minute. The Czech midfielder was fouled hard, but the referee played the advantage because Del Piero was still in possession of the ball.
What followed was an incredible display of Del Piero’s dribbling skills, his athleticism and the synergy between him and his French strike partner.
The Calciopoli era might be a touchy topic around Turin these days, but this particular goal is one that will never be forgotten by the fans.
What Are You Saying?
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Let’s face it: Juventus have the best fans in the world. So what are they saying? This week's entry comes from Francesco Amorosino:
“Not only is this rough patch due to a small lapse in concentration, but also the number of important absences in the team.
You can add Asamoah on to the guys that will be unavailable. No matter how solid Caceres is, he'll never replace Chiellini perfectly. Also, I love Pogba and think he's a great talent, but I don't think he's Marchisio's replacement. He's like Pirlo in the sense that he goes towards the ball to receive it, while Marchisio creates a lot more depth.
This is worse for the team also because with Pogba coming closer to the ball as well, it gives less space for Pirlo to play the ball, and he has less options in front of him. I'm starting to think that Pogba and Pirlo take away from each other’s qualities when they play together.
Immobile won't be coming to Juve because Preziosi firmly believes that he is necessary for them to avoid relegation. I don't think we were really that set on getting him either, we'd prefer to leave him to develop for another year.
I'd be really happy to get Llorente now rather than June, but I realize that we can't spend more than necessary. I wouldn't give up hope though, Bilbao would be foolish to ignore our offer just because of their pride.”
Post your comments below, the best will be featured in next week's column.
Ale Watch: Keeping Tabs on Alessandro Del Piero
Getting used to life at Juventus post-Alessandro Del Piero has certainly been no easy task. Although, for Del Piero fans out there (myself included), we will try to keep you up to date with the ADP's career post-Juventus—after all he was the greatest player to ever step foot in Turin.
This week, Del Piero netted four times, yes, four times in a single match as his side Sydney FC demolished Wellington Phoenix 7-1 in the Hyundai A-League. Del Piero was all class as he bagged an assist, slotted home a penalty, hit home a hat trick in the first half and received a standing ovation.
Check out his goals in the attached video!
Pogba's Delightful Double Takes Us into Another Week
Like we mentioned earlier. Pogba needs to stay. In case you missed his stellar strikes vs Udinese. Check them out here. They are a little something to get you ready for Genoa.
Hopefully by this time next week, the Llorente deal is wrapped and Juventus have added a further three points to their Serie A tally.
Until next week, leave us your comments, thought and suggestions—in actual fact, pass on your Juventus-related stories too as myself and Gianni are collecting your best for a new segment set to be included in the coming weeks.
Forza Juventus and thank you for reading.
Adrian and Gianni.