The general sentiment surrounding Juventus is that whilst they are performing at an impressive standard, they are still missing key players to truly challenge for the league title. Due to the vast amount of injuries suffered (despite a complete overhaul of staff) the club need to invest this winter and reinforcements must be made to strengthen the team.
The defence needs the most work and Juventus need hefty reinforcements for the sake of squad depth and to make up for player weaknesses. Ideally it would be great to purchase another two full-backs with perhaps one of them being versatile enough to play in the centre. Marco Motta has proved that despite his enjoyable forays into attack, his inability to keep his man-marking skills in check coupled with his poor positioning make him a liability in defence. Armand Traoré made his long awaited debut against Roma and despite showing some promising signs of energy and pace, does not seem to be very defensively sound. As for Frederik Sorensen, he has heavily impressed in defence but seems to be a better candidate for the role of centre back. Against Roma and as a right-back, the youngster seemed not at ease with the prospect of attacking the flank and benefitted greatly from the support of Simone Pepe.
As for the attack, Juventus need a winger. One especially apt at marauding the left wing, able to play between the lines and who can contribute as much as Milos Krasić can on the right. Luigi Del Neri is still not able to fully translate his ideas on to the pitch as he cannot play his preferred winged formation with only one effective winger. One cannot help but get excited at the prospect of seeing a 4-2-4 attack that will fully unleash the power of Krasić whilst simultaneously fulfilling Del Neri’s ambitions for the squad. Throw in a tall and physical bomber, who can make use of the crosses, hold the ball up and strike to a devastating effect and Milan will have a real challenger for the title.
It seems unlikely that the Old Lady can buy all that she requires over the winter but even if she did, can she maintain their fitness? Despite the changes Andrea Agnelli implemented in order to solve the problems of last year, including an overhaul of staff, Del Neri is still without a large portion of his first team. He assured the public that these traumas were suffered on the pitch and not because of his training methods but how is Juventus ever going to rid itself of this on-going problem?
Tuttosport ran an interview with Massimo Neri, the fitness and conditioning Coach working alongside Fabio Capello since his time at Roma. He was at Juventus between 2004 and 2006 and said that during his time, he could count on one hand the number of muscle injuries suffered by the team. Yet despite changing methods and the dismissal of the staff who worked successfully for years in the world of football, the Bianconeri continues to suffer from injuries and the Italian insists that Vinovo is the main reason behind it. ”From a climate perspective, it does not offer the ideal setting for work because it is wet and cold. That is reflected in the field.” He then goes on to describe how the pitches are ”too soft” and how due to the winter frost, it seems like the players are ice-skating rather than running when they train.
However, is it simply a case of the poor conditions at Vinovo or are the newly recruited staff unable to improve on the work of their predecessors? Italian teams have been known to be fiercely unlucky with injuries and many have quickly jumped to blame the after effects of the World Cup, the current heavy schedules and the lack of squad depths but do they sound like mere excuses? One is inclined to think so. Let us take José Mourinho’s treble winning Inter last season as an example. They more or less managed to maintain the spine of their team and suffered little by way of injuries and that came in spite of national team duty and the exhausting task of fixtures played. Ever since Mourinho left and took with him his highly respected fitness Coach, Inter have been suffering and Rafa Benítez is overwhelmed with the current injury crisis. You also need to note the example of Neri, who was credited for maintaining the strongest and fittest Real Madrid side in recent history and he did this in spite of multiple fixtures and an extraordinarily exhaustive method of attacking play.
These issues must be addressed so that Del Neri can count on a healthy squad filled with options. Maybe then the club can look at quality before quantity and invest in those individual champions who can make the difference. What’s more, they can buy out Alberto Aquilani’s contract and finally revel in his presence without fearing his absence.