Juventus at the International Break: A Progress Report
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Well, we've currently reached the second international break of the European season, this weekend has been jam packed with Euro 2012 qualifiers and friendlies between other non-European nations. It seems that now is as good a time as ever to review the Juventus season so far.
Juventus started off the season by defeating both Shamrock and Strum Graz in Europa League qualifying, although to be honest, that team is a bit different then the Juventus that just played Inter. Most notably is the fact that Diego is gone, and also Juve's new No. 1 weapon, Milos Krasic, was still at CSKA Moscow during those ties.
After a promising summer, Juve fell flat on her face in the first game of the Serie A season, losing to Bari 1-0. The offense was disappointing, leading this columnist to remark that, "If Juventus want to be able to truly compete for a top-three spot, or maybe even for the Scudetto, it needs to sign a true dominant, No. 1 forward." Well, it looks like I was wrong, in a way at least. What I should have said was that we needed a dominant attacking player, not a dominant forward, although it looks like Juventus may be getting one next summer in Edin Dzeko, imagine he and Krasic together!
Over the next few games that dominating attacking player began to emerge; it was not Amauri, it was not Del Piero, nor was it Iaquinta. It was Krasic. Milos Krasic, by far the transfer of the summer has become the engine of Juve's offense. With Krasic Juventus have a winger that can help on defense (although he has been slacking in that area), create chances, and score goals. And boy does he score goals. It looks like Krasic will continue to power Juve forward, but it also seems like the forwards are starting to roll into form as well.
In the next game, Juventus tied Sampdoria 3-3 in a firecracker of a match. The offense was superb, but as evidenced by the scoreline, the defense was lackluster, although a good amount of the blame should be placed on the keeper Storari.
After the 3-3 draw with Samp, Juve drew Lech Poznan 3-3 in a Europa League group match. This game was different though, the defense was better, and if it wasn't for a late goal, Juve would have won.
The next two games were total opposites: In one game Juve manhandled Udinese 4-0, and in the other Juve was manhandled by Palermo, losing 3-1. Everything went wrong in the Palermo game; both defense and offense played badly, and Storari made a few costly mistakes as well.
It seems though that the Palermo game might have been a wake up call for Juventus. They have produced a string of impressive results lately, defeating Cagliari 4-2 off the back of a masterful performance by Krasic (his coming out party as a Juve player, really) and drawing with two top European teams.
In the Man City game Juve certainly impressed. While the game ended in a draw, they still played well, although so did Manchester City's Adam Johnson, who scored a goal and certainly impressed everyone who watched.
After the Manchester match Juventus had the first of two games in the Derby d'Italia for this season. To be honest, I was not expecting good things going into this game, seeing as how Inter are defending champions of Europe and have an immensely talented squad (not so much the coach though). To my surprise, Juventus were willing and able to deal with Inter, the match ended 0-0, but it was certainly an entertaining, even match.
Those two games (against Man City and Inter, respectively) showcased Juve's defense, which had been lacking in previous games. But, it appears now as if the team has gotten into a groove, scoring goals, and being responsible defensively, they have a legitimate weapon in Milos Krasic, and Felipe Melo has certainly improved in the midfield this season.
Looking forward, Juventus has a somewhat difficult schedule for the rest of October, starting off with Lecce (which is by far the easiest game they have for the rest of the month), but then going to Salzburg to play SV Salzburg in Europa League play, before flying back to Italy to play Genoa that Sunday the 24th. After what should be a tough match against Genoa, Juventus play Milan on Saturday the 30th. If Juve can produce some good results in this set of matches, then they can firmly cement themselves as Scudetto contenders, but only time will tell.
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