Black and White Stripes Weekly Column: Week 3
Another week, another injury to a star player and another striker that no one really wanted added to the roster. Writing about Juventus is easy—you get to recycle most of your stories.
Disappointing results against Genoa and Lazio left the fans with a sour taste in their mouths. The Bianconeri are no longer in the running to win the Coppa d'Italia, and the once massive lead the team had built up in the Serie A has shrunk to just three points.
The win against Chievo was much needed with games against rivals Fiorentina, Scottish champions Celtic and AS Roma on the horizon. Juve are not playing their best football at the moment (understatement of the year), and the next few weeks will be vital for the team.
Transfers, injuries, lots of talk and a little bit of Bianconeri history. Let's get to it!
Black and White Stripes is brought to you by Adrian Agius and Gianni Verschueren.
Editorial: Lady Luck Not with Bianconeri in Coppa Italia
By Adrian Agius.
The funny thing about football is that the best side doesn’t always win. The funnier thing about Juventus’ Coppa Italia ties against Lazio was that this was actually the case on two separate occasions. The Bianconeri bow out of this year’s competition after Lazio stunned the Serie A league leaders 2-1 at the Stadio Olympico in dramatic fashion.
So with a potential treble off the cards, Conte will have added incentive to bring home another Scudetto and of course the title of Champions of Europe. Although, following Juve’s latest exploits (or lack of exploits) in the recent January transfer window, one would feel that The Old Lady haven’t really improved their credentials with regards to the latter of these two competitions.
Sure, Conte still has the best squad in all of Italy, which is still leading the Serie A, but does the squad of players submitted for the Champions League have the ability to go all the way? Probably not.
The addition of Nicolas Anelka, Federico Peluso and Jose Cevallos are, in ways, welcome additions; but by no means are they players Juventus should be relying on to bring home results.
We must remember that Fernando Llorente is arriving in Turin next year. The Spanish International is a huge step in the right direction for the Bianconeri, but he is, in essence, rendered useless this season.
Many of you are adamant that Juventus’ signings in the summer window are more than sufficient for the season. Don’t get me wrong, Asamoah, Isla, Caceres, Giovinco and the rest were fantastic buys. But fans have to remember: For every window Juve fail to move in, the clubs around Juve will draw closer in strength, like AC Milan and Mario Balotelli have.
This business of not acting big during the winter window will eventually catch up to Juve. It needs to change.
Chievo welcome the Bianconeri this week. Drawing in controversial circumstances with Genoa last week has the Bianconeri hungry for victory. The lead at the top is down to just three points, but Juventus have established an impressive away record in the league this season—averaging two goals a game on the road.
With Napoli chasing hard, nothing less than a win will suffice for Juve. Juventus will be without Mirko Vucinic, Giorgio Chiellini, Antonio Conte and Leonardo Bonucci for Sunday’s Serie A trip to Chievo following the fallout from the Genoa clash.
Match Report: Chievo-Juventus and a Look Ahead at Fiorentina
Full time: 1-2
It's 2011 all over again.
Juve appeared to be cruising to an easy win over Chievo Verona, but complacency and a loss of concentration turned a routine win into a nail-biter.
The Bianconeri took an early lead on a beautiful volley from Alessandro Matri and doubled their advantage just before the break when Stephan Lichtsteiner calmly slotted the ball home from close range.
The team dominated proceedings in the first half and came out of the dressing room as if the game had already been won, allowing Chievo to fight their way back into the match. Their efforts were rewarded early in the second half when Cyril Thereau blasted his shot past Gianluigi Buffon.
Chievo now pressed on for an equaliser, but Juventus quickly regained their composure and held on for the win.
The way the Bianconeri finished the game showed a lot of maturity, and Chievo never truly threatened Buffon's goal. But the pattern of Juventus conceding at a time they looked to be in control is all too familiar, and it seems to be rearing its ugly head once again.
And while that might not be much of a problem against an average team like Chievo, it might prove to be deadly against bitter rivals Fiorentina.
The Viola have yet to win a game in 2013, but the team simply has too much quality to be overlooked. Coach Vincenzo Montella has his team playing some excellent football and the January transfer window saw Fiorentina bring in a host of reinforcements. Amongst those new arrivals is Giuseppe Rossi, who was also targeted by Juventus.
The American-born Italian will not be playing due to injury, and neither will Mohamed Sissoko. The former Bianconeri will finish the season on loan at Fiorentina, but he's currently representing Mali at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Scoring early will be the key for Juventus in this game, as Fiorentina's defense can be very solid against pressure. With Leonardo Bonucci out due to suspension and Giorgio Chiellini still battling an injury, containing Stevan Jovetic will be the primary focus for Juve's makeshift defense.
Latest Transfer News
The transfer deadline came and went without the Bianconeri making a last-minute signing, but that should surprise no one. Antonio Conte hates the winter transfer window, and the team's activity this year actually comes as a surprise.
Still, many fans wished for more reinforcements, particularly in the offensive compartment.
Here is the list of all the new arrivals:
*Jose Francisco Cevallos
*Fernando Llorente (June)
On top of those three names, Juventus have also announced they are very close to signing Brazilian defender Doria (as reported last week), even though Sky Sports are reporting a deal has already been made (per Football-italia.net). Andrea Poli is also on his way to Turin, per Football-italia.net.
What Are They Saying?
Fernando Llorente: “It is not easy for me at the moment. Many people here are with me and love me – but another part of me just wants to leave as quickly as possible.
I had offers from many teams. But I really liked the Juve project. They have invested heavily in me from the start and have always been clear of their intentions. I've always enjoyed the competitive spirit of Italian teams, and for me, Juve are the biggest. The club are also trying to win the Champions League, which, for me, is the title that is the most exciting.
They are a winning team, with the ambition to keep on winning. It excites me a lot.” (per AS.com, via Football-italia.net).
Antonio Conte: The Juve coach is not concerned with the team's current run of results, citing the team's position on the Serie A table and their qualification for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League as reasons not to worry (via eatsleepsport.com).
Mino Raiola: Everyone's least favourite agents claims that his client Zlatan Ibrahimovic could possibly return to Juventus in an interview with Radio Radio.
Then again, this is the same guy that claimed Edinson Cavani would leave Napoli, even though he doesn't represent the Uruguayan.
What Are You Saying?
Congratulations to Puffin Stuff for doing little more than stating his opinion!
Seriously, though, nice work. This week's commenter elaborated on Platini's player profile and gave his view on the legendary nr10 jersey:
I think the #10 Jersey should beheld onto for a bit. I'm not so sure anyone on this current roster has truly earned the right to wear it yet. If anyone, I'd like Marchisio for it because he is a local Turin boy and has black and white running through his veins. But he seems locked in with his #8 for personal reasons. Giovinco is good, but not good enough for the #10 in my opinion.
Whoever has that shirt has to be born and raised Juve and a team leader. As of now, I don't see Seba as a team leader. Give it time, a true #10 will come along sooner or later
Injury Update: Claudio Marchisio
Goal.com is reporting Claudio Marchisio's muscular problem will sideline him for at least a week.
The Italy international was hurt in Juve's Coppa Italia loss to Lazio and was unavailable for the team's match against Chievo.
The report is good news for Antonio Conte, however, as it was initially thought the injury would be much more severe. Marchisio has been hobbled by several minor injuries during these past few weeks, but he should be available for Juve's UCL clash with Celtic.
Andrea Pirlo made his return to the starting lineup against Chievo after being out for a handful of games with a training injury. He was subbed into the game against Lazio.
Player Profile: Alessandro Del Piero
Name: Alessandro Del Piero
Position: Forward (Trequarista)
Kit number: 10
Appearances: 705 games
Years at Juventus: 19
For those of you who have been keeping up with my writing (Adrian), you will know that I make no secret of my adoration of Alessandro Del Piero. Il Pinturicchio, Il Capitano, Ale, Alex, ADP…whatever you call him, there is no doubting the impact Del Piero has had on World Football.
Both on and off the pitch, Del Piero has proved instrumental for Juventus. I mean, his individual credentials alone are enough to make the mouth water.
His individual credentials include the Serie A golden boot (2007-08), Champions League top scorer (1995-96, 1997-98), Italian footballer of the year (1998, 2008), Sportsman of the Year (2010) and inclusions on the FIFA 100 list of greatest living footballers and the UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll.
He went on to become practically synonymous with Juventus: winning the UEFA Champions League in 1995-96, eight Scudetti (two revoked due to Calciopoli), UEFA Super Cup and Coppa Italia.
During the Calciopoli scandals and amidst Juventus' relegation to Serie B, the free-kick specialist remained loyal to the Old Lady. Big-money offers from top European clubs around the world were compounded by the walking out of a number of his teammates. Del Piero claimed that, as captain, the thought of leaving Turin didn't even cross his mind.
Renowned for his superb control and brilliant set-pieces, Del Piero, although no longer a Bianconero, still takes to the field at the tender age of 38 for Sydney FC. Although he may be getting on in his career, Del Piero still shows why he will always be remembered as one of the best-ever footballers to step foot on a pitch.
If you would like a specific player looked at, let us know in the comments below.
Flashback File: UEFA Champions League 2003 (Juventus 3-2 Deportivo La Coruna)
With Juventus struggling through their second-round group stage and Manchester United already qualified in the group, it was between Juventus and Deportivo for the final qualifying spot. Anything less than a win would see the Bianconeri knocked out of the competition.
Cue Igor Tudor.
The big Croatian centre-back nailed a volley from the edge of the area deep into stoppage time to put Juventus up 3-2. Ultimately his goal would see Juventus qualify on head to head out of the group. That year, Juventus made it all the way to the final of the competition only to bow out on penalties to rivals AC Milan.
It is by no means one of Juventus’ best performances, but it certainly ranks as one of their best in terms of the excitement the match generated. Even today, watching the highlights, Tudor’s volley still sends shivers down any Juventus supporter’s spine.