It was supposed to be the one. Juventus would finally get a trophy after this dark, dark period in the club's history. The Coppa Italia 2010-2011 belonged to La Vechia Signora. Or.....maybe not.
After an impressive showing against Catania, where Il Capitano Del Piero really stood out, Juventus advanced to the Coppa Italia quarterfinals, where they were up against a Roma squad that has been slowly pushing its way up the Serie A table. The teams had met once before, and will do so again, but that game ended in a 1-1 draw. To be honest, I expected Juventus to beat Roma, at least until I saw the lineups. But first, a digression.
The Coppa Italia is a tournament that has been very kind to Juve historically. The Juventus faithful can count nine Coppa Italia championships amongst their trophy collection, with several other appearances as runner-up.
However, the Aughts weren't very fruitful for the Bianconeri in this regard. Yes, Juventus made the final in 2003 and 2004, but they did not win either of those games. In fact, Juventus hasn't won the Coppa Italia in over 15 years.
The new boss, Andrea Agnelli, had made it pretty clear that he thought this cup competition was an integral part of Juve's future success. He even referred to it "“a competition which has been missing from our trophy cabinet for a long time" and so we can assume that he had made it somewhat of a priority.
With the recent dip in league form making a first-place finish basically impossible, and having already been eliminated from the Europa League, the Coppa Italia really was Juve's last chance at a trophy this year.
That being said, the Roma game was a winnable one. Like I said earlier, I had expected Juve to win until I saw the line-ups (although I am a homer.)
You see, there were a few glaring problems with the lineup. First off, Amauri was playing. A fun fact about Amauri is, he's awful. This is the guy who pledged to score twenty goals this season, to 'repay' Juve fans for his fitness problems, but has yet to score any goals. Let me reiterate that, he said he would score twenty goals, a very hard thing to do, and hasn't scored a single goal yet.
But, according to ESPN Soccernet, he has 17 shots. So, good for you Amauri, you're really trying hard.
Another problem with the lineup, Marco Motta was playing. In a way, Motta is like the defensive equivalent of Amauri, meaning he's terrible. This is a man who should probably get some form of recognition for being out of position so often. I understand that there's a huge hole to fill at the leftback position for Juve, but, Motta is not even worthy of holding that place until a new player can be brought in. Fabio Grosso plays better than Motta, and I'm sure some of the Primavera players might too.
The fullback situation may contend with the striker situation for the team's biggest 'hole.' The striker crisis nullifies the team's attack threat, but the fullbacks playing badly has a negative effect on the entire midfield. Krasic and Pepe cannot play as effectively if the fullbacks behind them aren't playing and defending well.
Back to the Roma game, the third problem I had with the lineup wasn't as severe as the first two. In fact, I didn't really have a problem with this selection at first. I'm talking about Mohammed Sissoko, who had been slotted in midfield yesterday. He had played well recently, specifically in the Bari game where he surprised many viewers (including me) with his newfound ball-playing ability. Plus, Aquilani was being rested for the game against Udinese this weekend, I presume.
Sissoko had a bad game, but one cannot fault Delneri for playing him, as he had played well recently. But, hindsight is 20/20, and so I will say that Delneri should have played Marchisio, or even Aquilani.
Yes, Alberto was being rested, but his presence really takes the team to the next level. Juventus with Alberto Aquilani is worlds ahead of Juventus without him.
Despite these lineup flubs, the game was pretty tight. It wasn't until the 65th minute that Roma broke the 0-0 monotony, courtesy of a Mirko Vucinic strike. Then, Rodrigo Taddei scored towards the end of the game, to put the final score at 2-0.
This Coppa Italia failure is disappointing, no way around that. I thought Juventus had a pretty good shot, then again I though Juventus would win the Scudetto until the Parma game. Now, Juventus must struggle to qualify for the Champions League.
The struggle will continue on Sunday with a game against Udinese, who are also fighting for Champions League glory. Also, though I am not 100 percent sure of this, I believe Felipe Melo will return from his three game suspension this Sunday, assuming he is fit after playing yesterday.
This should (assuming Melo's head is in the right place, a risky assumption) provide a boost to the squad, and hopefully someone (whether it be Milos, or Pepe, or anyone really) can fill the scoring hole left by Quagliarella's injury. I fear that, with the transfer window's close dawning, that the striker situation will remain unresolved this summer, especially since Giampaolo Pazzini (one of the few strikers I feel that Juventus would have considered buying in January) has just agreed to a transfer to Inter.
Inter, by the way, have been playing much better since His Incompetence, Rafa Benitez, left. Leonardo has returned to Mourinho's proven system and the results have started to turn back in Inter's favor. This is bad news for Juventus, as now they have one more talented team to contend with.