It is a bitter pill to swallow for the Old Lady. Buoyed from her win against despised Inter, she was not allowed to enjoy her moment. In a European game where only a draw would have seen her through to the next stage, she was humiliatingly defeated by Bayern Munich who were on the brink of a total meltdown.
This is a hard piece to write – and a tough one to read – but Juventus did not deserve to go through and something must be done to change things otherwise the fans should get used to referring to their beloved team as merely a club that once was, recounting tales of how Juve used to be legendary. The truth of the matter is no member of Juventus, from the management down to the players, feared defeat on Tuesday night. Losses are now accepted and the loser mentality, once a notion greatly affiliated with the hated Tinkerman, is now a disease that has infiltrated the Turin giants. So let us run though where it all went wrong.
First and foremost the Bianconeri conceded four goals, something unheard of when you’re talking about Italian teams. Great teams are built from the back and that feeble defence, in which the collective age of three of their defenders came to 101, can no longer remain. Giorgio Chiellini was clearly missed and without him Juve did not have the grit or energy to cope with the onslaught of Bayern’s quick and tough attacks. Considering the ages of the centre-backs, it’s bizarre that Ferrara did not think of moving Martin Caceres to the middle and perhaps playing Zdenek Grygera as right-back. Furthermore, in light of Fabio Cannavaro’s obvious difficulty in playing two matches in one week and Nicola Legrottaglie’s ineptitude in defence, why has Ferrara not looked at introducing Lorenzo Ariaudo into the back four this campaign as he awaits the opening of the transfer market? The Old lady needs an injection of pace and youth into her back line and the pensioners need to go. A right-back is essential but frankly, Ciro’s main concern should be finding a speedy centre-back.
Secondly there’s Diego. Whilst he deserved much of the criticism he received on Tuesday due to his inability to hold the ball, the player is still magical and one who most Juve fans want to see included in the line-up, but his talents are not being effectively exploited. He is playing with a horrendous defence who often require his contribution to block the opposition’s offensive play. He is playing neither with a registra, who would allow him to remain in position, nor fast strikers who could latch on to his through balls. And to round it all off, most of Juve’s attacks have come through the wings despite playing a 4-3-1-2 formation that usually requires the ball to be played down the middle, limiting Diego’s contribution. It’s been said before, Diego wasn’t a necessary purchase but since he’s here, they need to make the most of his skills.
This brings us nicely to the third point – Juventus should have reverted to the 4-2-3-1 formation for this game. Considering the fact Alessandro Del Piero is failing to recapture his form and that the defence is ageing, a solid midfield is all Ferrara had and he did not use it to his advantage. Against Inter, a team that is more aggressive than it is speedy, the age of Juve’s attack and defence won’t matter as much and the Bianconeri could grind out a result, but in Europe, when facing a squad that is exceptionally offensive, incredibly quick and desperate to win, you simply do not start a match playing a 4-3-1-2 formation. Juventus needed to attack from the get-go and Ferrara should have sacrificed a few positions to make way for attacking players in the middle. Bearing in mind that Juve initiated most of their attacks on the flanks, Sebastian Giovinco’s pace and Mauro Camoranesi’s technical skills would have perhaps made the difference on the night.
It is also become increasingly hard to defend Ferrara when he is seemingly damaging the little shred of dignity the Old Lady still has. He got his tactics incredibly wrong and admitted so after the match. None of the players seem to understand what is expected of them and all look to pass to Diego when they recover the ball, even if he is surrounded by four defenders. There are many problems the ex-stalwart defender needs to work on, from the obvious such as the dire handling of set-pieces and the lack of chemistry in-between the players, to the difficult such as teaching the team how to switch from offence to defence and then back to offence in an instant. Nonetheless firing the man would be harsh. The players hardly made his job easy on the night as barely any of them played with heart or even tried to win the match for the club. Furthermore, the Management should be made to live with their silly decision to appoint him in the first place. It’s astonishing that a club who so willingly splurged €50m on two signings effectively scrimped when it came to hiring a famous and experienced Coach.
For his own sake, Ferrara needs to learn how to discipline his squad, effectively showing them whose boss and not be scared to bench those who do not perform. This will send a clear message to the squad – defeats will not be tolerated. He should also look to bring in the youth players he so marvellously led in the past. Claudio Marchisio and Giovinco know how to make the difference, perhaps the rest of their young colleagues should be allowed their time to shine. Once Ciro regains a complete squad willing to bleed for the team, then he can concentrate on communicating his tactics to the side. Only then can he begin to make up for his past mistakes.
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
Humiliation is the beginning of sanctification or so they say – December 11, 2009