A dismal performance, a deplorable act from the supporters and a season now effectively well and truly over – this is the current state of Juventus today.
As most of have already read, the Juve team bus was pelted with eggs by angry fans as they protested against the ridiculous season the club has had this year. Never has a side who has spent so much money in the summer and been touted as the potential winners of the league, fall from grace in such spectacular fashion. Yet despite the obvious anguish of the fans, the fact that Jonathan Zebina was slapped as he boarded the coach was neither acceptable nor easy to watch and the fans should be ashamed of the way they handled this protest.
What most of these fans often forget is that these footballers are humans with emotions and families, and off days. No human should be subjected to physical confrontation and it should never be in the name of sport. Zebina made a mistake when he foolishly insulted the travelling supporters in Craven Cottage but very few people can withstand the pressure of such an intense atmosphere when it seems everything is falling apart. As a professional he should have been fined by the club and he should have made a public apology. The fans however, should not have taken the matter into their own hands and watching Zebina receive abuse as he continued to head towards the coach, pretending not to have taken notice, is an act many Italians should want to forget.
With Liverpool barely able to get past relegation battling teams in the English Premier League, their fans still turn up, they still cheer on and they still respect the name of the club. What is great about Italian football fans is their undying passion and their inability to stay calm when watching their team play. Loving your team too much is one thing but when your actions only serve to add further humiliation to a squad that has already plunged the club into new depths of mediocrity is quite another. Alongside the racist chants of the Lazio fans, Sunday once again proved why it will take years before Calcio will go back to enjoying the kind of respect that it once received.
As usual, the Bianconeri put on another uninspiring performance and one that certainly does not merit them achieving fourth place. Yet individual moments of brilliance sealed all three points to keep them in the hunt. Alessandro Del Piero proved that although he may no longer have the legs to carry him through, he still has the magic to score skilfully from set pieces. Alberto Zaccheroni actually made logical substitutions for once and did his utmost to keep his side in the game despite the loss of Diego. In fact the loss of the trequarista allowed those fans that did show up the pleasure of watching their starlet, Sebastian Giovinco, come on in his place. What is amazing is that despite the countless injuries he has suffered, the length of time he has been made to watch from the bench and the knock to his confidence bestowed upon him by his Coaches, Seba still came on and troubled the opposition. His pace and his ability to work the wings was exactly what the Old Lady needed to attempt a way through. He is yet to be the player Diego is as he still gets thrown off the ball a little too easily but the fight he has in him to recover possession makes him a valuable asset to the team and a player that could well ease the pressure of Diego on the field should they have the chance to play together.
With Giovinco on the pitch and Del Piero tracking back, it was a wise move to bring on Felipe Melo as the Bianconeri needed to impose themselves in central midfield in order to gain possession. Despite the fact that it may have looked like a defensive substitution, it seemed to be a clever idea as Juventus went back to dominating control. Nonetheless, the winning goal was still not down to team work but to Felipe Melo’s incredible header and Zaccheroni must concentrate on a way of getting this squad to function together as a cohesive unit. As for the Brazilian, the goal was deserved and his kind gesture to the fans will go some way into repairing the rift.
With a management that seems inept at realising their weaknesses, most supporters are now hoping for a complete collapse in order to shock them into rebuilding from scratch. John Elkann admitted he was bitter with the way in which the Bianconeri have crashed this season but he should realise that unless he intervenes his summer, Juventus will never awake from this nightmare and he better have started planning already.