If you have ever wondered how a great team can lose a title, Juve are an appropriate model to inspect. The Bianconeri have perfected a winning formula for dropping points, to ensure that Inter will, once again, be handed the championship on a plate. Juventus took on Fiorentina in a highly physical and frustrating match on Saturday in Turin and after dominating possession for much of the game, walked away with only a draw to leave them four points adrift of leaders Inter. It’s hard to criticise a man who was vital in winning so many trophies for the Old Lady as a player but unfortunately, whilst he may possess the winning mentality Claudio Ranieri lacked, Ciro Ferrara is missing the tactical know-how to take his team to the top. This was greatly demonstrated in the match on Saturday, as Ferrara simply didn’t understand the strengths of his team and once again insisted on opting for his preferred 4-3-1-2 formation.
Simply put, this formation doesn’t work and Ferrara seems unable to comprehend why. Here’s why Ciro – these tactics should be reserved for teams that have attack minded fullbacks, two clinical strikers, a wonderfully apt passer of the ball in midfield and a solid trequartista. The reason why this formation appeared to work in the beginning of the campaign was because Diego was in scintillating form and practically carried the team on his back. Furthermore, he had Claudio Marchisio just behind to ensure that the ball was sent his way. The fact of the matter is, when Juve lost Diego to injury against Lazio, they lost the vital ingredient in making this formation work and the fact that Ferrara has not yet realised this can only mean that he’s ill equipped to lead this team to victory. Why on earth would you choose a formation that would leave the likes of Sebastian Giovinco and Mauro Camoranesi on the bench? The latter has been simply magnificent so far this season for both his team and the Azzurri so leaving him on the bench was simply inexcusable. Instead, Ferrara opted to play Christian Poulsen alongside Momo Sissoko and Felipe Melo. By having so much muscle concentrated in one area, Diego was forced to go back and find the ball in order to feed it to the strikers. And in the absence of a deep lying midfielder at the back, the search for goals proved fruitless, as the midfield seemed intent only on pummelling the opposition. The delightful through ball that Poulsen sent Vincenzo Iaquinta’s way perfectly demonstrated his playmaking skills but placed alongside the tenacious duo in the middle, he seemed incapable of harnessing his skills.
As for Amauri and Iaquinta, where do we begin? It was abundantly clear that their partnership is a failure – any forward that leaves the fans missing their soon to be 35-year-old Captain poses a serious problem to the team. Simply put, neither possesses the slightest hint of ingenuity and relied heavily on Diego to feed them the ball. By fielding two static strikers who simply sat and waited in the box, meant Juve were essentially playing with ten men. Considering their inadequacies and lack of imagination, surely one should have been dropped to make way for an additional player to help Diego in his quest to find opportunities. Furthermore, if Ferrara was so insistent on playing with two strikers, then at least he should have selected two that know how to work together. When Amauri selfishly decided to go for goal in the first half and missed, Iaquinta was left livid and was seen screaming at his partner. The Italian was right, he was in a better position to score but the truth is, these two cannot work together.
On realising that Juve created most of their chances on the left-hand side of the pitch and that the Viola were visibly weak on the wings, Ferrara decided to consult his Coaching for Dummies textbook and changed to a 4-4-2 formation. Great move, most would say, except it wasn’t. A good Coach is one who can spot the weakness in the opposition but a great Coach is one who understands the strengths of his squad. Due to the long list of injuries, Juve did not possess the right players to make that formation work and it only restricted the talent of the squad that Ferrara had at his disposal. If Ciro was really looking to exploit Fiorentina’s weakness, then he should have changed to a 4-2-3-1 formation and bought on Paolo De Ceglie, Giovinco and Camoranesi. In doing so, Ferrara would not have only taken advantage of the ample space on the wings but would have introduced a burst of creativity in the middle. For some reason however, the Coach seems unwilling to experiment with this formation and after two dismal performances, coupled with a distasteful rant to the media, appears to have lost all faith in the Atomic Ant.
The Bianconeri will hope to end their winless streak when they play Maccabi Haifa on Wednesday at home. Unfortunately for them, this won’t be the walk in the park they might expect. Haifa are determined to collect points having lost their previous two matches in the group. Despite their heavy loss to Bayern, the Bavarian outfit’s Coach, Louis Van Gaal, still walked away impressed by the team’s style and lavished praise on their Coach. Meanwhile in their game against Bordeaux, the French were lucky to have managed a goal as in the first half and the Israelis only succumbed to the French Champions seven minutes from time. Much like Juve, their weakness lies in their inability to convert their chances but they more than make up for it with their ferocious counter attacks and considering the amount of times the Bianconeri’s defence has been left exposed, Haifa could pose a serious threat. If Ferrara wants to keep his job then it’s crucial he picks up all three points.
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