It was hardly surprising that Juventus managed to keep that elusive clean sheet upon the return of both Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini to the side for the team’s 1-0 win over Cagliari on Sunday. The Bianconeri also managed to hold on to a lead, something that has been a struggle for the Turin side all season, but it wasn’t because they dazzled, rather that they came up against a team in the shape of the Rossoblu that was more woeful in front of goal than those in the black and white jersey.
It will be a match that Massimiliano Allegri will want to forget quickly and, considering Cagliari’s recent form, Juventus should not be celebrating the slim victory they did manage too enthusiastically. If this is the team that will take on Inter on Friday then it is safe to say that a defeat is to be expected and that a lot of pressure will be on Chiellini to perform if Juve is going to try to avoid a humiliation, especially as it appears the team cannot rely on Alberto Zaccheroni’s tactics or Coaching abilities to get them through.
The Coach decided to field a 4-4-2 with little creative outlet in the team except for an aggressive Mauro Camoranesi who seemed more intent on causing harm to his opponents than anything else. In addition to the lack of creativity within the squad, two static strikers were preferred to David Trezeguet and Alessandro Del Piero who would have at least provided an additional spark in attack. Whether the pair are being rested for the big game on Friday or whether Zac actually preferred his chosen strikers remains to be seen, but what is yet to be fully appreciated is the little understanding this Coach has of his team.
The only positive aspects this team can boast are a selection of ball-winning defensive midfielders and creative attacking midfielders. As such, it seems absurd that the system being deployed is not one which fulfils these roles on the pitch. It has been discussed hundreds of times in these pages before and yet Zac is still to test the 4-2-3-1 formation. By fielding two defensive midfielders behind three creative attacking players, Amauri may just get the service he needs to rediscover his form. Failing that, the team could rely on three midfielders who would all be capable of finding the back of the net in lieu of the static forward upfront.
Antonio Candreva proved in the match against Siena that he can add flair to the attack when played as a trequarista and can surely cover capably in Diego’s absence. When Sebastian Giovinco came on in the second half he was, alongside Camoranesi, the only player who attempted a strike at goal without passing the ball endlessly around the box. Vincenzo Iaquinta is yet to shake off his injury and was a poor against Cagliari, in fact his absence only served to cancel out Chiellini’s disallowed second goal as opposed to scoring any on his own. In time one would hope he will regain his form, but in the meantime his place should be awarded to another attacking midfielder who could make the difference on the pitch.
With such minimal creativity on the pitch, the home fans were once again forced to watch the frequent long ball ploy from Fabio Grosso who seemed disinterested in helping the team build play. Zac finally seemed to have realised that Claudio Marchisio is better played in the centre as opposed to the left wing and it was evident how much the youngster thrived being played in his usual role against the Isolani. One is yet to really know whether the Coach actually realised Marchisio’s true position independently or whether he was only played there because of Momo Sissoko’s absence. As for Giovinco, it seems that whilst Grosso and Paolo De Ceglie attempt to rediscover their defensive form, the risk cannot be taken to play the youngster from the start for fear of exposing the left flank even further.
Nonetheless, three points were gained to afford the Old Lady the luxury of leapfrogging Napoli in the table. Despite the uninspiring performance, Juve did manage to hold on to the lead and, as Zaccheroni said, for once the squad did not collapse in the second half as they so often have done under his stewardship. What was interesting however, were the banners being held up by the Juve fans in the Stadio Olimpico. Whilst some held signs that spoke of the Morattipoli – a play on words regarding the Calciopoli scandal – others mentioned how Jean-Claude Blanc was in France whilst Luciano Moggi was in court defending Juventus. The latter is difficult to dismiss. After a recent letter written by Moggi to John Elkann, it is easy to understand why the name of Andrea Agnelli can be found on so many banners in the Olimpico. Whilst Management relax on the shores of the Cote d’Azur and Presidents make tardy enquires as to why Juve were vilified in 2006, the real Juve is yet to be found on and off the pitch.