Oh, how things have changed in just a few short weeks.
After a disappointing 2-1 loss to Napoli on Sept. 18 and less-than stellar results in the Champions League so far, the Juventus Roundtable feared that the season may be in serious trouble.
However, with four wins in just over a week’s time, Juve are now flying high and enter Wednesday’s return leg of their heavyweight battle with Real Madrid overflowing with confidence.
So, with these results, the roundtable discusses whether the crisis is actually over.
It seemed as though the Real Madrid win was the perfect medicine for the struggling Bianconeri as they have now taken the confidence from that win and translated it into Serie A.
As Zahi Sahli will go into greater detail about in his section, I think that part of the crisis had to do with the not only the media’s expectations, but also those of the fans. Juve’s squad is obviously not the strongest in Serie A, but because they are the most successful team in the history of Italian football, they are expected to be the best every year.
But with the team and manager Claudio Ranieri on the rumored hot seat, Alessandro Del Piero, who has not had the season people had hoped for after last year’s scoring festival, has stepped up and led Juve out of the so-called crisis and the bigger the game, the bigger the mark left on the game by the inspirational 33-year-old captain.
However, while one crisis may be coming to an end, there is still the large number of regulars out injured, but getting close to being back to normal.
Ranieri said himself after Saturday's 2-0 win over Roma that he is "starting to see some rays of sunshine."
Obviously Gianluigi Buffon is still out for another month, but Alexander Manninger has done a formidable job filling in for Juve’s regular No. 1 keeper. Striker David Trezeguet is still out until the New Year, but with Amauri amongst the leading scorers in Serie A, how many people have thought about what it will be like when the Frenchman returns?
"It will finally be real daylight only when I get all my players back from injury," Ranieri said.
And he is exactly right. When Buffon and Trezeguet return to the Stadio Olimpico field in December and January, respectively, things will officially be back to normal.
So now Juve head into the return match in Madrid against Real seeking a spot in the knockout rounds. However, things don't get any easier in Serie A, with the Nov. 22 match against Inter Milan just a few weeks from now.
With their last four wins, including their wins over Real Madrid and Roma, Juventus have silenced all those speaking of a crisis in Turin.
The crisis was obviously their bad form; but I am against those who are extremely optimistic, for I see the real crisis in the board and fans' demand that Juventus challenge for the Serie A title when the quality of their squad is nowhere near Inter's quality or even Milan's.
If the crisis was the number of injuries the team is suffering from, then things are on their way to getting back to normal. If the crisis was the bad form or the bad luck, then things are great in Turin.
But the issue is that Juve's history, records, and their trophy case put a lot of pressure on manager Claudio Ranieri and his squad to win and find quick success, something that they are apparently not capable of doing at the moment.
Juventus now have four consecutive wins, three in Serie A and obviously the win against Real Madrid in the Champions League.
The win over Real Madrid was the turning point for Juventus, and with another three wins it’s easy for the papers to remove all tags of crisis in the club. Juventus are in the right direction—no longer is it crisis, but neither top form.
Juventus had an unmistakable flow last season and probably thought that things would continue on the same path. With the new arrivals it has taken some time for the players to understand what movements needs to be taken in order to tighten up areas and work as a unit.
Pavel Nedved was simply outstanding against Bologna as he bagged a double and grabbed maximum points for his side, and Alex Del Piero’s stunner against Roma speaks for itself.
The wins against Real, Torino, and Bologna were somewhat narrow and at times unconvincing seeing that the team had obvious difficulties in holding on to their leads. The game against Roma showed that the players are developing. No doubt that Juventus deserved the points though, but they have yet to play their true potential.
I think that the worst part is over, but there is plenty of room for improvement. The players seem to get better for each game, gaining both confidence and consistency—two major factors to continue on their recent good run.
One aspect that has played a fundamental part in the Bianconeri’s turnaround is that there seem to be full reconciliation between manager Claudio Ranieri and the “Old Guard” now. No matter what was confirmed or denied before, there were obvious signs of unrest between players and coach.
The Bianconeri are only four points behind Serie A leaders AC Milan. Acceptable? One has to take into consideration that this year’s edition of Serie A is without a doubt one of the most exciting and competitive seasons lately.