A shock defeat saw Bari, intent on winning prior to the game, pick up all three points at home as Juventus fell prey to poor tactics, lack of creativity and good old injuries. Many have been quick to point out the reasons behind Juve’s failure in their first league fixture. Some have suggested that, although millions have been invested to revolutionise the squad, industrious players have been preferred to real talent making the difference when it matters. Others have expressed their annoyance at the inability to secure a solid left-back, especially considering Paolo De Ceglie’s shoddy displays week in, week out.
More importantly still, however, Juventus’ young Agnelli President is probably right in calling attention to the great number of new faces in the squad, presumably still very much caught up in the process of adapting to new surroundings and different styles of play. While fatigue as well as the sale of fan favourite Diego may have contributed to a lacklustre performance, there is little doubt some critics will point the finger at Luigi Del Neri, whose management might now come under fire.
The most worrying aspect of the game and one that could potentially disturb the remainder of the season is Del Neri’s tactical inflexibility. That the Coach has an obvious predilection for the 4-4-2 formation must be clear to all by now but when one considers what players were actually available on Sunday night, perhaps a different approach should have been attempted. Del Neri’s formation is heavily reliant on the crosses that come in from the rear. However, as long as forwards are only employed as second strikers, the Old Lady cannot help but display a lamentable want of penetration offensively. For this reason, Juve’s attack was left starved for ideas as more and more balls were being delivered to a non-existent presence upfront. What the Coach badly needed was a Plan B and yet even the sobering realisation that the strategy adopted was clearly foundering was not sufficient to change tack and the only substitutions occurred just a few minutes into the game. This probably explains why the ageing Alessandro Del Piero and the injured Jorge Rodriguez had to stay on the pitch till the end.
It seems as though lack of creativity in midfield is the problem to be tackled as soon as possible and Management should really be ruing the sale of Diego now. The midfielders simply did not push, were unable to drive the team forward and were useless in breaking up play or filling in the gaps left at the back. Bari won everything aerially and Juventus required steel and a creative presence to counterattack Bari’s domination. Unfortunately, Alberto Aquilani was unavailable to provide a more inventive support and the team was left without an alternative as they await the return of Claudio Marchisio’s talent. Felipe Melo, however, was quite impressive and some were left disappointed when he was substituted off – indeed, a decision that puzzled many – since Marchisio was obviously struggling to neutralise former Bianconero, Sergio Almiron.
As for the defence, it lacked both in experience and playmaking to allow for defensive solidity. Del Neri observed: ‘We started a little afraid of keeping our defence high up the field especially with the pace of the Bari forwards on the counter.’ Nonetheless, they succumbed to the pace and sheer seamlessness of the home side’s attack. The Bianconeri defence was constantly at risk from attacks coming through the flanks, the full-backs struggled to get back in time to catch-up with the Bari forwards and all four defenders were apt to suffer momentary lapses of concentration. With lack of ingenuity in attack, Juventus must concentrate on bolstering the defence in order to increase its chances of earning crucial points.
Next week will provide another test for Del Neri and hopefully the team will achieve their first points but before any of that, we would like to spend a few words on a true legend and master of goal scoring, David Trezeguet. In the course of a 10-year tenure, with an average of 17 goals per season, the innate goal-scoring Frenchman literally made history alongside Del Piero, and was one half of the world’s most feared striking partnerships as he helped the Old Lady reach the summit of European football. Together, they won scudetti, reached the finals of the Champions League and got Juve promoted back into Serie A after the Calciopoli scandal. A poacher, a beast of centre-forward and a player capable of scoring with any body part and from any angle – no goal was too hard for King David. No encomiastic celebration, written or otherwise, will ever truly express the legendary status the player now enjoys nor will it ever convey the immense adoration, love and respect he commands from every Juventino around the world. We can only join them in wishing such a phenomenal striker – who once famously remarked that “life is goals” – the very best in his new adventure.