It is astonishing what difference a few months can make but since Andrea Agnelli arrived at Juventus, one can honestly say his devotion to the team has resurrected ‘lo stile Juve’. On Sunday night, we witnessed an unpretentious Juventus who proved that they are a match for any team with their strength, determination and heart. This brand new shiny management has instilled the Juve ethos of discipline, love for the shirt and team unity into their players as they aim to fight for a spot in the Champions League.
It is impressive to think how only weeks ago, the defence was struggling to contain Lech Poznan and now they seemed at ease as they worked in unison to limit the chances of two-time treble winning forward Samuel Eto’o and the equally destructive Diego Milito. Recent performances prove that la Vecchia Signora is a perfect model for continual development as her players have learnt to work for each other as a tight organised unit. Certain players who were deemed ineffective or inept last season are turning out to be revelations this year as they put their faith into their Coach and their heart into their performances.
Paolo De Ceglie played the game of his life as he darted back into position, kept his eye on the ball and covered for the central defenders who were struggling to cope at times. On the other flank we had the usually criticised Zdenek Grygera who did a good job at limiting the impact of the youthful Coutinho and maintained the solidity of the back-line. The strength of the squad appears to lie in midfield as Juve now possess the technically gifted Alberto Aquilani who aptly distributed the ball and initiated important attacks, and the burly Felipe Melo who is slowly morphing into a beast in central midfield. The Brazilian put in a powerful performance as he made vital interceptions, maintained possession and secured the back-line.
However, one cannot help but wonder that, if in an effort to remain humble, Juventus are perhaps limiting themselves from achieving the absolute best. Understandably, a point against the European Champions is brilliant, especially for a side that is at the start of a new project and can only boast average players. However how often does one get to face a depleted Inter squad bereft of attacking power and without their charismatic Captain?
This Inter, coached by a man who seems overwhelmed by the astuteness of Italian tactics is not what is used to be and internal tension is becoming more and more apparent each match day. The calm attitude of the game, that allowed for it to be labelled a fair match, is largely down to a Nerazzurri squad that longer seems nasty. Under Jose Mourinho, the players were callous, determined to beat the opposition and proudly showcased a war like approach to matches. They quickly sniffed out the frailties of the opposition and punished every little mistake and yet on Sunday night, the Nerazzurri seemed satisfied with a point and hardly troubled a Juve defence that has shipped nine goals in five domestic games.
On the night Juventus were more organised, created better chances and came the closest to scoring a goal. However, they failed to take advantage of the home side’s lack of fighting power and instead played like a typical away side. Perhaps for most, it was one positive point but to the fans, a little gamble could have earned them a much needed win.
Prior to the match, Luigi Del Neri assured his audience that Juventus will not play for a draw: “I have never in my career been happy beforehand with the idea of a point and I never will.” Yet the aim of the game seemed to be focused around stifling Inter’s attack as opposed to beating the opponent. This was easily deduced by the players chosen by the Coach to start the game. Rather than playing a left creative winger who could have exposed Maicon’s dwindling form in recent months, Del Neri opted for a central midfielder to stifle the right-back’s marauding runs down the flank leaving the Bianconeri attack Krasic-dependent yet again. Del Neri did bring on Alessandro Del Piero to add a new dimension to the attack but without a left attacking winger, it was always going to be difficult to pierce the Inter back wall.
Del Neri has done a fine job so far as he has somehow managed to turn this impotent attack into one of the most feared in Serie A, whilst simultaneously addressing the side’s defensive frailties. If the club bring in key players, such as a real centre forward along with two full-backs in the winter market, there is no reason why Juventus cannot aim for the stars this season. Humility is essential but not if it stops a side from achieving their potential so next time, it might be worth taking a gamble.