Coming into the season, many people felt that the one thing that would hold Juventus back from seriously challenging Inter for the Scudetto would be the performance of the defense.
Through two games, there hasn't been much to complain about. The team's biggest concern, Fabio Cannavaro, has been the best of the bunch by putting in two very good performances. The worries over possible chemistry issues carrying over from the pre-season between Cannavaro and Giorgio Chiellini seem to be thrown out the window.
On Monday, Juve's defense got a whole lot better when Juventus reached an agreement with Olympique Lyonnais to bring 31-year-old Italian left back Fabio Grosso back to Italy.
People were wondering when Juventus sporting director Alessio Secco would spend some money to improve his team's defense during the summer transfer window. His only two moves of the summer involving the questionable backline were to bring in Cannavaro on a free transfer and Martin Caceres on loan from Barcelona.
It's certainly a stark contrast when you consider that Secco spent around €45 million to bring in Brazilian midfielders Felipe Melo and Diego.
However, that all changed when Secco pulled the trigger on the move for Grosso that only cost the Old Lady all of €2 million (€3 million depending on if certain individual and team performances are met), but will have a very large impact on the Old Lady's success this season.
The performance from the left backs then-coach Claudio Ranieri had to chose from his two seasons in Turin. Domenico Criscito, who has since flourished as a left back with Genoa, was shipped out on loan in January 2007. Fellow youngster Paolo De Ceglie was in-and-out of the lineup due to various injuries and never established himself as a key player.
That meant the Cristian Molinaro, who still isn't anywhere close to being a consistent contributor offensively, was Ranieri's No. 1 choice to start at left back.
And now with Grosso onboard, Juventus' defense has improved without a doubt.
Not only is Grosso sound defensively, he is also very potent on the offensive side of things. His crosses will instantly become some of the best in Serie A and the overall contributions he makes on offense makes him a quality signing.
With the current three-man midfield that Ferrara employs, having fullbacks that can contribute offensively is crucial to the attack. So far this season, the addition that they have added hasn’t been anything to brag about in two great showings by the team as a whole.
You’ve got to think that now changes with Grosso set to be a regular starter.
How many times have we seen Grosso spinning in crosses from the left corner in an Italy jersey? And most of them were quality crosses. Amauri, Alessandro Del Piero, Vincenzo Iaquinta, and David Trezeguet must be licking their chops.
For two years Juve had a left back whose offensive game was just that—offensive. Now things are a little different.
Maybe Secco does know what he's doing after all.
Because he is 31 years old, Grosso is by no means the long-term solution on the left side of Juve's defense. He may have signed a three-year deal on Monday, but it doesn’t mean he is going to be a starter for every one of those. Criscito, who is now co-owned by Juve and Genoa, is viewed by most people as the Old Lady's long-term answer on the left side of the defense if he does end up coming back after this season.
As Juve competes on all fronts for the second consecutive season, Ferrara will be looking to keep his players fresh. Even though he will likely see the bulk of the time on the left, Grosso can also play on the left wing in the midfield and that gives Ferrara one more option of how he wants to play things as the fixture list gets busier just a few short weeks after the international break.
Much like Cannavaro, Grosso brings a good amount of experience on the highest level of competition and can share that knowledge with the younger players who are on the roster. Surely he will mentor De Ceglie and Molinaro as the season goes on.
You can’t get much better experience wise when you were one of the heroes for Italy at the World Cup in Germany three years.
Don't look now, but Juventus now have four-fifths of Marcello Lippi's starting defense heading into South Africa.
It's a great sight to see coming from Italy's most-storied club.