Selecting the Worst Juventus XI of All Time

Adam Digby@@Adz77Featured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2016

Juventus midfielder Tiago of Portugal kicks the ball during a Serie A soccer match between Juventus and Catania at the Olympic stadium in Turin, Italy, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009. (AP Photo/Alberto Ramella)
ALBERTO RAMELLA/Associated Press

There is little doubt that Juventus can boast some of the finest players of all time, with the likes of Michel Platini, Gaetano Scirea and Gigi Buffon among those to have worn the famous black and white shirts in years past.

As discussed in this previous post, even looking at only the men to have worn the club’s coveted No. 10 shirt is enough, with the likes of Omar Sivori, Roberto Baggio, Liam Brady and Alessandro Del Piero joining Platini as former owners of that iconic jersey.

Yet the Bianconeri have also been home to some truly dire players, with some well-known names having flopped during their time in Turin. Thierry Henry is an Arsenal legend and one of the Premier League’s deadliest-ever strikers, but his 19 appearances for Juventus were largely forgettable.

What follows is not a look at those heroes to have represented the Old Lady, it is instead a recollection of the failures, the mistakes and the simply unfortunate as we select Juve’s worst-ever XI.

Edwin Van Der Sar
Edwin Van Der SarHERIBERT PROEPPER/Associated Press/Associated Press

 

Goalkeeper

Edwin van der Sar is most likely to be remembered for his UEFA Champions League triumphs at either Ajax or Manchester United, and perhaps even his brief but impressive stint at Fulham sticks in the memory. In Italy, however, he is undoubtedly linked to two of Juve’s most surprising failures.

The Netherlands international arrived in Turin in 1999 after winning everything he possibly could in Amsterdam. The Bianconeri were reeling from Marcello Lippi’s sudden move to Inter Milan, with Carlo Ancelotti arriving to replace the coach. It would be a disaster.

Despite a squad laden with talent—the likes of Edgar Davids, Del Piero, Zinedine Zidane and Henry—the team could only manage two second-place finishes, with Van der Sar proving hugely responsible for both.

Indeed, while this previous post discussed some of the club’s best-ever goalkeepers, the man from Voorhout will never make an appearance on such a list. A major blunder in a loss to Lazio saw Juve let one title slip. The error in the video above was enough to see him moved on after just two seasons.

 

Defence

Long seen as a hallmark of Juve’s greatness, the likes of Scirea, Lilian Thuram and Leonardo Bonucci would shudder at the prospect of playing alongside some of the names on this list.

At right-back, Jonathan Zebina was a disaster from day one. Arriving on a free transfer from AS Roma at the request of Fabio Capello in 2004, the Frenchman somehow lasted six years in Turin.

His 98 appearances for the club involved some calamitous mistakes, he then sealed his fate when gesturing at Juventus fans during a poor run of results and slapping a cameraman as he left the field following a red card.

Joining Zebina in Juve’s team of shame is his compatriot Jean-Alain Boumsong, signed from Newcastle United as the club was relegated to Serie B in 2006. He began as he meant to continue, allowing lowly Rimini to score on his debut and was quickly shipped out following the team's return to the top flight.

While the first two names in this woeful back four were terrible, Jorge Andrade can perhaps consider himself unfortunate to warrant inclusion. The likes of Dario Knezevic or Leandro Rinaudo could just have easily taken his place, but Juve spending a substantial amount on the Portugal international seals his spot.

Jorge Andrade
Jorge AndradeRICCARDO DE LUCA/Associated Press

In 2007, the club paid €10 million for Andrade, according to the official UEFA website. However, he broke his kneecap that September and suffered a repeat of that injury in pre-season the following year to miss the entire 2008/09 campaign. He went on to make a grand total of five appearances for the club.

Finally at left-back is a man Juventus supporters wish played so infrequently, but somehow Cristian Molinaro amassed 81 appearances for the Old Lady. He was never good enough and now struggles to hold down a regular spot with cross-town rivals Torino, much to the amusement of his former fans.

 

Midfield

At regular intervals, Juventus were forced to trot out a midfield of Felipe Melo, Tiago Mendes and Christian Poulsen. Even recalling those dark days now when the team is once again dominating Serie A is enough to cause distress to those who love the Bianconeri and with good reason.

All three were desperately poor. Their presence in Turin undoubtedly slowed the early progress of Claudio Marchisio, who fortunately was not contaminated by the sea of mediocrity which surrounded him in those formative years.

Melo was unable to pass, continually fouled and was generally terrible, while Tiago takes a place alongside him for arguably even worse behaviour. He locked then-club president Giovanni Cobolli Gigli in a bathroom during contract negotiations.

 

Attack

Thierry Henry was fielded wide on the left by Carlo Ancelotti, meaning this team really has no place for him, while even Diego—the subject of this previous post—cannot find a spot among the worst XI of all time.

Another who narrowly missed the cut was Juan Esnaider, an Argentinian striker signed by former director Luciano Moggi back in 1999. No goals in 16 appearances see the £4.5 million man reviled by many, but worse is yet to come.

Jorge Martinez
Jorge MartinezAlberto Ramella/Associated Press

Remember Jorge Martinez? A Uruguayan midfielder who played quite well for Catania was inexplicably signed by Juventus in 2010 at a staggering cost of €12 million. A grand total of 20 appearances followed, and he remained attached to the club until this summer when his contract was dissolved.

Alongside him in this team comes another South American, Fabian O'Neil who was signed as a back-up to Zidane but rarely showed anything like the form that had been expected of him.

The same is true of Marcelo Salas. Selected to this team ahead of Esnaider, the Chilean striker arrived in 2001 after being an essential part of Lazio’s previous success under Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Having won six trophies in a three-year stint there, he moved to Juventus where he would endure the worst moments of his career. Hampered by injuries, he played just 14 games and scored two goals, missing a penalty in a derby with Torino by skying the spot-kick high over the crossbar.

Salas’ career would peter out, but Juventus somehow managed to find an even worse player, with Amauri arriving in the summer of 2008. Costing the club €22.8 million, he netted just 17 goals, never looking like living up to his ridiculous price tag before moving on.

His career was discussed in this previous post, and he takes the final spot in Juve’s all-time worst XI.

Final Juventus XI (4-2-3-1): Van der Sar; Zebina, Boumsong, Andrade, Molinaro; Melo, Tiago; Martinez, O'Neil, Salas; Amauri