This past week Juventus faced two very different teams, with extremely different agendas for the season, yet somehow the Bianconeri managed to record the same result. Drawing against Bologna and Bayern Munchen carries very different pressures, Adamo Digby takes a look at what went right and wrong for Ciro Ferrara's men.
The Bologna game in Turin came at a difficult time for the new coach. Sandwiched between more important games against Genoa and Bayern made balancing the team selection a very difficult challenge. Trying to rest players, bring others up to match fitness while trying to maintain some continuity would test even the most experienced of managers.
In trying to do the best for as many players as he could, Ferrara effectively made both games more difficult than they already were. A team such as Bologna will always raise its game for a trip to Turin. Seeing Zebina, Molinaro, an unfit Diego and a badly misfiring Amauri on the team sheet gave them even more reason to believe they had a chance to cause an upset.
In addition to these choices, Juventus also were still without Cannavaro, who's organisatonal skills at the back should not be underestimated. Another error may have been the continued selection of Marchisio in midfield.
A thoroughly committed Turin-native, he never gives less than his all, and has done so for every match this season, for club and country, for nearly 90 minutes every time. This seemed to affect him in this game, and even more so in the Bayern game.
Trezeguet was again on the scoresheet, giving Bianconeri fans at least one piece of good news. They were boosted even more in seeing il Capitano, Alessandro Del Piero make his first appearance of the year.
This piece of good news was short-lived however, with him picking up an injury on Thursday morning that sees him ruled out for yet another spell.
A late equaliser for Bologna left a tired looking Juventus one point behind surprise leaders Sampdoria. If the result was disappointing, the reaction of the manager will have encouraged fans to keep the faith.
Ciro Ferrara gave as honest a press conference as you could hope for. He took the blame, citing his own mistakes in both selection and tactics as reason for the dropped points.
Taking this lesson into the Bayern game, the only changes were returns for Grosso and Iaquinta, both rested from the weekend off. The striker almost repaid his managers faith, having Juve's two best chances. The draw was a fair result in the end, although a wonderful run and chip from Ribery would have been a fitting winner for Munchen.
Impressive in both games was the defending of Chiellini and Legrotaglie, the centre backs finding the form that made them one of the best pairs in Serie A last term. Diego was struggling for fitness during both games after his layoff, and Juve have sorely missed his magic. Bufffon was solid, if not as spectacular as recent weeks, as was Grosso.
The right back slot is causing the coach his biggest headache at the moment. Grygera offers nothing in attack, Zebina is a defensive liability while Caceres is inexperienced. If none these three step up soon, expect the club to move for a replacement in January, probably at the expense of Molinaro and either Zebina or Grygera.
Despite what seems a bad week, there are reasons to remain optimistic of a great season. Even with two of the four strikers unfit and one badly off form, and the defensive problem I mentioned previously, a truly gifted midfield and goalkeeper has earned two Champions League draws and kept a point behind the leaders domestically.
If one—or both—of the other units can find similar form, Europe and Italy had best beware of one amazing, classy and determined Old Lady.