Juventus: This Week In Black and White
Due to the International break there was only one game this week for a tired and out of form Bianconeri. Palermo were the hosts as Juve visited Sicily and were found wanting. A 2-0 reverse handing Ciro Ferrara his first defeat and, with no fixture for two weeks, he will have plenty of time to reflect on the mistakes. Fans of la Vecchia Signora will hope he uses the time wisely and finds solutions to some glaring problems.
Fabrizio Miccoli was Juve's tormentor-in-chief, providing Palermo with all the qualities missing from his former club—guile, creativity, pace, and a genuine goal-threat almost every time he had possession. He left what is basically the National Team's defence in tatters as he captained his club to a famous victory.
Gigi Buffon was his usual self in goal, making two vital saves, and was largely the reason the scoreline wasn't more embarrassing for Juventus. He was assisted by Grosso and Chiellini who both played well, mostly covering the errors of not only the other defenders but a midfield that was simply overrun.
Zebina and Legrottaglie both looked as poor, neither one making any case for continued selection. The return of Cannavaro from Real Madrid should have inspired Legrottaglie to improve, but on this showing the Italy Captain will walk straight back into a starting slot in both teams upon his return to fitness.
Zebina has two players vying for his slot. Grygera has also performed poorly when given the chance. The answer here seems to be Martin Caceres, on loan from Barcelona. After his impressive goal-scoring debut against Lazio he was dropped, seemingly without cause, but he must now be given opportunity to show he is the one to solve the right back problem.
In midfield, Melo gave his worst performance so far in a Juve shirt but—after a stellar start—one poor game can be forgiven. The same can be said of Diego, who played better than in his last appearance, showing that once his fitness is back, he will be the same player who stole the show in the first few games. Iaquinta is another who falls into this group. His form has been good and he has carried the goalscoring load in recent weeks, perhaps this was just a game too far.
Four players definitely out of sorts were Poulsen, Camoranesi, Trezeguet, and Amauri. Both strikers will have the two week break to find their scoring touch, which they need to quickly. The two midfielders will struggle to start the next few games, the rested Marchisio and the return from injury of Momo Sissoko coming at the right time for Ferrara.
Perhaps while the forwards are so off form, a slight change of formation is the solution. Adding an extra midfield player would not only prevent such problems as Palermo caused on Sunday, but would allow Diego even more freedom and the chance to play higher up the pitch. Melo and Marchisio are automatic choices, with Tiago probably the best blend, but while he remains injured Sissoko would add defensive cover, and some much needed height at set piece situations.
This would leave Iaquinta to lead the attack, which he is more than capable of doing, especially if he continues the hot streak he has been on in front of goal. The return of Del Piero cannot come soon enough, as the lift he provides as captain, as well as his creativity, has been greatly missed over the past few weeks.
Ferrara may consider giving Giovinco a run of games as a striker while il Capitano recuperates. While he struggled under the responsibility that comes with the Trequartista position in this formation, being pushed into the attack might finally see him give the kind of performance we all know him capable of.
Although the loss this week was a blow to Juventus and Ferrara, it must be seen as a chance to prove both the clubs title credentials and the coaches ability. Learning from defeat is a vital ingredient at any club, even more so at one so big as Juventus. All Bianconeri must hope Ferrara shows he is capable of changing when necessary, of inspiring the team, of coaxing the best from individuals, of being a manager.
With Fiorentina providing a stern test immediately after the international fixtures there is no let up for Juventus in their pursuit of glory, and victory against such a rival would see all these issues fade into the background. Two weeks then to rectify the problems, to plan and to improve, then we shall see if Florence can inspire another great renaissance.
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