International week is over and it’s back to reality for the Bianconeri who welcome Udinese in the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday. Fortunately, for Juve, the man who donned the Captain’s armband for the Azzurri in their win against Sweden, Antonio Di Natale, will be suspended for the match. Despite their long list of absentees, including the injured Simone Pepe, the Zebrette will be determined to collect some points and a certain Gaetano D’Agostino will be eager to showcase his skills in hopes of evoking regret from Juventus for their decision not to sign him. Meanwhile the Old Lady will be excited to welcome back a host of players from injuries, including Alessandro Del Piero and Claudio Marchisio.
Even though Ferrara will undoubtedly be happy with the mass exodus of the Bianconeri from the treatment room, the amount of able and willing players at his disposal will prove to be a problem, even if it is of a good kind. There is no formation that will allow Juve’s best 11 players to combine to create the team’s best XI, and the amount of injuries suffered, coupled with a complete shift from historic tactics, have provided the Old Lady with ample excuses for their inconsistencies. Philipp Lahm said it perfectly when he blamed Bayern Munich’s recent woes on the club’s lack of direction: “Clubs like Manchester United or Barcelona have a system, and then you hire personnel who fit this system. We hired Arjen Robben because he is very good and an international player. But we didn’t hire him because we said, ‘We will play 4-3-3 from now on.’ No one in Barcelona would ever play 4-4-2. Barcelona play 4-3-3 – that is a fact.” Unfortunately for Juve, their footballing philosophy has been ditched in favour of ushering in a new and exciting team that can adapt to all kinds of opponents and formations. And whilst this has provided some thrilling displays such as the one against Sampdoria, they have also baffled their audiences with shambolic performances and it’s this very lack of direction that continues to produce an inconsistent Juventus.
With the eagerly anticipated return of both Ale and Marchisio, it would be interesting to see what formation the Coach will opt for on Sunday night. La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Juve will most likely remain faithful to their new and exciting 4-2-3-1 formation with Marchisio playing alongside Felipe Melo, and Del Piero playing in place of Sebastian Giovinco. Meanwhile Turin based Tuttosport is convinced that those returning from injuries will find themselves benched and that Ferrara will choose to field the same trident including Mauro Camoranesi and Giovinco behind David Trezeguet. It’s more likely that Ferrara will opt for Tuttosport’s version of the line-up as the newly recovered players will struggle to play the full 90 minutes, despite the fact that Del Piero has reiterated, to every single Italian publication, his desire to play.
Meanwhile, the nominations for the ‘Golden Bin’ awards have been announced and practically the entire Juventus midfield has been nominated. Both Christian Poulsen and Tiago Mendes find themselves in the list yet again, alongside an in-form Melo who played marvellously in the match against Atalanta. Tiago may possibly be the only player on that list who deserves his place but it’s simply an outrage to see Melo featured alongside names such as Ricardo Quaresma. Unfortunately for the Brazilian, he is battling against his own legacy. At Fiorentina, he was considered a phenomenon simply because he was almost unheard of prior to his arrival in Italy and exploded on the scene in Cesare Prandelli’s 3-5-2 formation last season. But now critics continue to compare Diego’s ease in settling in to Felipe’s tumultuous transition into Juve’s midfield and it’s simply an unjust comparison. The pintsized trequartista arrived in Turin following a relaxing holiday on a yacht with his girlfriend and faced a Bianconeri hierarchy that were willing to change their entire system, formation and philosophy in order to ease him into the team. Conversely, Melo was hardly allowed the luxury of a holiday – his thrilling displays in helping Fiorentina gain a place in the Champions League earned him a starting role for his country in the Confederations Cup, a tournament Brazil won. He was then immediately thrown into a new formation built to please one ex-Werder Breman star and into a role that would see him having to practically carry the Bianconeri’s ailing defence.
Yet, despite his fatigue, the media’s criticism and his tough new surroundings, the player has performed and continues to be one of the first names on the Coach’s teamsheet. He has obviously made silly mistakes but he has also put in fine displays that fully justify his purchase – his performances against Roma and Atalanta, for instance. And for a player that continues to travel home in order to play important roles for his country, he always comes back and tries to deliver in Juve’s endless matches. In time, he will hopefully justify the expense and he can begin on Sunday when he’s faced with D’Agostino, the man who would love nothing more than to prove Juve wrong.
Juventus Club Focus 2009/10
Great expectations – August 21, 2009
When in Rome – August 28, 2009
The decline and fall of the Roman Empire – September 1, 2009
World Champions – One in, one out, one remembered – September 4, 2009
International week (Georgia-Italy, Italy-Bulgaria)
Children should be seen, not heard – September 7, 2009
Diego lost to injury in victorious Roman repeat – September 15, 2009
The reserves exposed – September 18, 2009
Transforming the formation – September 23, 2009
The cruel blow of lady injustice – September 25, 2009
Haunted by the ghost of last year’s defence – September 29, 2009
We’re meant to be happy with one point? – October 2, 2009
Is it now time to be negative? – October 6, 2009
Ferrara: public enemy #1 – October 9, 2009
Bad or just misunderstood? – October 13, 2009
Let the bitterness commence – October 16, 2009
Oh Ferrara, will you ever learn? – October 20, 2009
Ferrara, thank you for listening – October 23, 2009
Sampdoria will provide the real test – October 27, 2009
Introducing the real Juve – October 30, 2009
Why are we not surprised? – November 3, 2009
The many faces of Juve – November 6, 2009
A team of hyperboles – November 10, 2009
And we’re back – November 20, 2009