The black-and-white boys finally rediscovered their self-esteem, remembered exactly who they were and reclaimed the pride that has gone missing for the past few years on Saturday. It wasn’t the phenomenal Juve we saw against Sampdoria but it certainly was ‘The Real Juve’ Tuttosport described. The boys played with heart and with guile, honoured to be donning the Bianconeri colours as they took on their most hated rivals in Turin in a spectacular match that not only reopened the race for the Scudetto but allowed Serie A to remain competitive. This wasn’t only a victory for Juventus – it was a victory for Calcio lovers.
Most of the predications came true. Jose Mourinho went crazy, both teams were furious with the referee at some stage of the match, Juventus conceded a thousand or so corners which they went on to defend poorly, one team was forced down to 10 men and the infamous symbol of fair play, Mario Balotelli was jeered by the crowd. Despite his petulant behaviour, you forget that Balotelli is still a teenager and certain Juventinis felt a little sorry for him when the crowd bust into rapturous cheering as he slipped and fell when taking a free-kick. But before they reached for their Kleenexes, the Nerazzurro performed a fabulous piece of theatre when he fell to the floor clutching his face proving exactly why he’s the most hated man-child in Serie A. Inter’s childish antics that included hair pulling and shoves in the back probably allowed the Gods to look down kindly at Juventus but the home side were certainly a little lucky. Conceding nine corners to a team that is aerially gifted is one thing but to leave strikers unmarked is simply embarrassing. Esteban Cambiasso missed a glorious chance to equalise with a header in the 69th minute from a corner and having already conceded a fine goal due to the defence’s humiliating attempt at marking corners, you would have thought Juventus would have polished their act. Ciro Ferrara must improve his side’s astonishing weakness in set-pieces or risk further humiliations.
Claudio Marchisio was nothing short of a hero on Saturday. He scored an absolute gem of a goal before heading straight back to make a goal-line clearance only a few minutes later to preserve his squad’s lead. So how did this boy turn into the impeccable player he is today? He says it’s thanks to all the training he received during his time at Juventus’ youth team: “I learned to never give up.” Marchisio commented to la Gazzetta dello Sport which brings us nicely to the next point. There was something different about the way the Bianconeri played on Saturday. They took to the pitch with confidence and played with determination. They seem to have found their ambition to succeed and were desperate to get the required result by remaining focused even after Marchisio scored. Ferrara said it perfectly when he noted: “Juve have to rediscover their characteristics, like that of also being a workmanlike team.”
That is the exact cause of Juve’s inconsistency. It’s not about tactics or formations – it’s about hunger, determination and hard work, three characteristics that have been missing recently. According to Alexandre Pato, Milan’s thrilling form is down to the family-like atmosphere in the dressing room. Marcello Lippi won the World Cup because he knew exactly how to form a united team with the ambition to succeed and Mourinho is a connoisseur when it comes to creating an us-versus-them atmosphere. Ferrara needs to unite his squad and create the kind of harmonious ambience necessary to win coupled with the burning desire to perform – the exact attitude the Old Lady was renowned for. Ferrara seems to only instil this kind of winning mentality when faced with the prospect of playing against a big team or when his job is on the line. As such, Juventus only seem to perform against strong sides and not because of good tactics but because he sent out a hungry squad desperate to avoid defeat. If Ferrara forces his side to treat each game like a final, he may have answered Juve’s consistency problems.
Determination to succeed will separate the two teams tonight and the fact that Juve only need one point could serve to harm their chances of winning. If at any stage of the match the Old Lady decides to take her foot of the accelerator then the Bavarians will punish her. In Bayern’s match against Borussia Monchengladbach on Friday, the home side opened the scoring but the visitors replied soon after. Having levelled the score at half-time, M’gladbach made their biggest mistake when they decided a draw was enough and sat back in the Allianz Arena. The Coach cleverly decided to bring on the heavy artillery – Arjen Robben – and the winning goal was found moments later and the giants claimed their third consecutive win. It’s abundantly clear that Louis van Gaal will encourage his troops to remain calm in the first half on Tuesday, lulling the Bianconeri into a false sense of security. Once Juventus begin to believe in their one point, the Bavarians will come alive and push for a goal to send the Old Lady crashing out in the final stages of the match with absolutely no time to equalise. As such, it is vital Juve make the most of their home advantage and come on to the pitch with guns blazing. Scoring in the early stages of the match will force the Bavarians into chasing the game allowing Juve complete control of the situation.
Bayern may have begun to win again but before every pundit clamours to applaud their return to glory, it would be wise to note that the Bavarians collected their first win at home against Maccabi Haifa. The following wins were against two teams that currently occupy the 11th and 12th spot of the Bundesliga. They are doing better but by no means have they defied the odds to sensationally defeat winning sides. History is also on Juventus’ side on Tuesday as Bayern have suffered a defeat in their last two trips to Turin whilst Juventus have remained undefeated in their past 16 home matches in Europe. Can the Bianconeri hold on for one more point to knock the German giants out of the Champions League and prove the power of Calcio?
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
Del Piero returns as subordinate players give encouraging displays – November 24, 2009
Failure reverberates throughout the club – November 24, 2009
Is it all over? – December 1, 2009
Oh Lord, make our enemies ridiculous – December 4, 2009
Destroy Bayern and we will really start to believe – December 8, 2009