2008/09 – A dramatic season for the Bianconeri saw them start well, mounting a challenge for the Scudetto. Amauri, the hotly anticipated signing, had a phenomenal start to the campaign and Juventus were on fire as they thrashed Real Madrid in the Champions League. This was followed up with a courageous effort against Chelsea that saw them undeservedly knocked out. A massive dip in form instigated the dismissal of Claudio Ranieri and Juventus dropped in the league jeopardising automatic qualification to the Champions League. Ciro Ferrara was brought in as caretaker Coach and managed to achieve second position. Overall, a disappointing season for the demanding fans but still an improvement on 3rd place.
2009/10 – Alessio Secco and Jean-Claude Blanc promised great signings, but with many fans blaming management for the Old Lady’s dismal performances over the last two years, few believed they would pull off a good transfer campaign. Alas, they have stunned the world and impressed footballing pundits alike by employing a fan favourite and legendary icon, Ciro Ferrara as Coach, who will look to bring in an attacking style of play to win trophies and thrill the crowds. Expectations are running high for the Bianconeri and the league title is their main objective especially as the Italian backbone of the Azzurri is now infused with the magnetism of the Seleçao.
Transfer campaign – They may have achieved second place through a scramble but considerable reinforcements had to be made if the Bianconeri were to be considered serious challengers for the league title this year. Management have achieved the unthinkable and brought on quality signings whilst still managing to balance the books. Even as Roma and Milan are selling for the sake of their accounts, Juventus have learnt from previous mistakes and splashed the cash on a handful of crucial players as opposed to several average players.
With Diego as protagonist, Ferrara has ensured that the midfield has been well reinforced to support the star and he has worked on reigniting the dulling spark in both Tiago Mendes and David Trezeguet. Defensively, the back line has received a slight boost with the return of Fabio Cannavaro and arrival of Martin Caceres, but a quality left back would still have been an essential addition that could have been made had the surplus to requirements players agreed to leave.
Diego – Werder Bremen – €24.5m + €2.5m Bonus
Felipe Melo – Fiorentina – €25m
Fabio Cannavaro – Real Madrid – Bosman free transfer
Jose Martin Caceres – Barcelona – loan
Raffaele Bianco – Bari – end of loan
Sergio Almiron – Fiorentina – end of loan
Michele Paolucci – Catania – end of loan
Oussama Essabr – Vicenza – end of loan
Mario Kirev – Grasshopper-Club Zurich – end of loan
Riccardo Maniero – Lumezzane – end of loan
Rubén Olivera – Genoa – end of loan
Andrea Pisani – Pro Patria – end of loan
Dario Venitucci – Avellino – end of loan
Alessandro Vono – Livorno – end of loan
Pavel Nedved – Retired
Cristiano Zanetti – Fiorentina – €2m + €0.5m bonus
Olof Mellberg – Olympiakos – €2.5m + €0.5m bonus
Alessandro Vono – Catanzaro – Undisclosed
Domenico Criscito – Genoa – Co-ownership deal – €5.5m
Marco Marchionni – Fiorentina – €4.5m
Dario Knezevic – Livorno – end of loan
Raffaele Bianco – Modena – Loan
Albin Ekdal – Siena – Loan
Rey Volpato – Bari – Co-ownership deal – Undisclosed
Michele Paolucci – Siena – Co-ownership deal – Undisclosed
Matteo Cavagna – Ravenna – Co-ownership deal – Undisclosed
Lorenzo Del Prete – Siena – Co-ownership deal – Undisclosed
Tomas Guzman – Piacenza – Co-ownership deal – Undisclosed
Giuseppe Rizza – Livorno – Co-ownership deal – Undisclosed
Andre Cuneaz – Mantova – Renewed co-ownership
Raffaele Palladino – Genoa – Renewed co-ownership
David Lanzafame – Palermo – Renewed co-ownership
Antonio Mirante – Sampdoria – Renewed co-ownership
Francesco Volpe – Livorno – Renewed co-ownership
Marcelo Zalayeta – Napoli – Renewed co-ownership
First XI – On paper, Juventus are a well constructed team, with a defence consisting of Azzurri back three Gianluigi Buffon, Cannavaro and Giorgio Chiellini. With Melo and Sissoko also helping out with defensive duties, Claudio Marchisio should have the freedom to initiate attacking moves and link up with Diego. With outstanding creative skills and matching pace, the Brazilian fantasista will be the link from the midfield to the strikers who are famed for their finishing abilities. However, there are several new faces in the team and it will take time before the squad learn to adapt to each other. Provided that Cristian Molinaro and Jonathan Zebina cope on the flanks, this samba infused squad have certainly closed the gap on Inter.
5 Zebina – 5 Cannavaro – 3 Chiellini – 19 Molinaro
8 Marchisio – 22 Sissoko – 4 Melo
11 Amauri – 10 Del Piero
The Coach – “Milan have taken a chance with Leonardo, while for us, Ferrara is a certainty.” Stated President Giovanni Cobolli Gigli. After taking over as caretaker Coach and managing to achieve second place for the Bianconeri by convincingly winning the last two games of the previous campaign, Ferrara was offered the position of Coach permanently. A rookie Coach and a former Bianconeri legend, the fans are ecstatic and Marcello Lippi has given his blessings.
Despite his defensive capabilities, Ciro is looking to introduce a more attacking formation, taking advantage of the newly reinforced Juventus midfield. Having spent time learning form the ex-Juventus maestro, Ferrara possesses the right training and winning mentality to boost morale, encourage teamwork and bring glory back to the Old Lady. Having played with a number of current stars coupled with his time with the youth sector, Ferrara is the ideal candidate to combine explosive young starlets with experienced icons.
Team/reliable player – Giorgio Chiellini is a man in love with his shirt and his game. The defender brings a certain passion to the squad, proven when he recovered remarkably quickly in the beginning of last season. With a disastrous Juventus backline last term, Chiellini was credited with carrying the defence on his shoulders. An aggressive tackler who has a knack for sensing danger, he’s perfect for doing the dirty work at the back. What he lacks in pace, he makes up with excellent aerial ability thanks to his height, and his tenacity ensures that the opposition falter in front of goal.
Creative force – Immense pressure lies on Diego’s shoulders as he has a team built around him. The Brazilian is notorious for his ability to win the ball from the midfield, in the gap behind the strikers, and surge forward perplexing the opposing defence with his dazzling pace and notable dribbling skills. He should be the strikers’ most valuable player as he will look to provide through-balls and necessary crosses for them. Diego’s fantastic range of passing means he has the ability to either chip in tight crosses or hit long balls forward whilst he can further strike at goal himself with either foot. A player both unpredictable and impossible to mark, his low centre of gravity gifts him excellent ball control.
Youth prospect – Abdoulaye Bamba – This is the youngster’s eighth season with Juventus’ youth team and the right-back has truly blossomed into a formidable defender. Bamba is best known for his ability to progress forward as well as his quick sprints. His pace makes him fully capable of monitoring the wings and would be a valuable addition to the Bianconeri’s shaky defence.
He’s made impressive performances for the Bianconeri in recent friendly games, most notably against Nancy and Cisco Roma. Considering that, for the moment, Juventus are relying on the average Zebina and Zdenek Grygera, the fans are desperate for Bamba to be promoted to the first team.
The fixtures – Barring their second and third matches being played away against the capital clubs at the Stadio Olimpico, the fixtures have been kind to the Bianconeri. Most of the opening tough games are well spaced out in the first half of the season, as the Old Lady take on one giant a month, mainly at home – Roma in August, Genoa in September, Fiorentina in October, Inter in December and Milan in January – which gives the squad time to understand each other’s method of play. The second half of the campaign is a little tougher as the opposing fixtures will be played away but padded out by easier games allowing the players the chance to re-energise themselves for the Champions League fixtures.
Home grown players – Renowned for always providing the backbone of the Azzurri, out of the starting line-up mentioned above, five of them are included in the national team, whether it be in the senior or the under-21 team and six of them are Italian – Amauri will nearly make it seven! As for the first team squad, 13 out of the 26 players are Italian. 50% of the squad are foreigners, surprising for a team renowned for sticking to their roots.
Predictions – Pressure will be enormous and many have predicted Juventus to be the only club to seriously threaten Inter’s position at the top. Whilst Ferrara possesses great skills, he lacks experience when it comes to coaching a club, especially one as big as Juventus and one may doubt his ability to handle the pressure.
Their recent from in pre-season friendlies and active transfer campaign has given them a major boost, but they are still relying on their players to get through an entire season without injuries. Their replacements are poor and with a packed schedule, it is inevitable that the Bianconeri will face big fixtures with a mediocre side. The strength in depth of the defence is still rather abysmal despite minor alterations and could be their Achilles heel that will lose them the coveted 28th (or 30th to some fans) Scudetto. Inter’s desperation to win in Europe could mean that Juventus will take advantage domestically but anything other than first place will be considered a major failure. Prediction – 1st