Club Focus – Juventus – The decline and fall of the Roman Empire

All hail the Brazilian legend, the master of Turin and the King of Serie A, Diego! The Brazilian import guided his team to the top and ensured a perfect start to their hopeful campaign.

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Juventus travelled to Roma knowing that only a win would suffice should they look to snatch the fifth consecutive league title away from a formidable Inter. The Nerazzurri may have had a hesitant start to the campaign, having only managed a draw against newly promoted Bari but their sensational form against the Rossoneri on Saturday certainly silenced, if not out rightly stifled any whispers from the critics. Having slotted in four thrilling goals past a frustrated and unorganised Milan, Inter are beaming with pride and arrogance as they labeled the infamous Derby a mere practice match to prepare them for the game against Barcelona in the Champions League. A game they now think will be a breeze considering the balance and strength of their newly constructed squad.

Juventus fans were trembling as they saw Leonardo standing on the side scratching his head as his Milan got pummeled. Were they going to experience a similar fate with their very own rookie Coach? And so Juve headed to the Stadio Olimpico to face a side that had slotted seven past Kosice in the Europa league on Thursday night and a side desperate to prove that they can still challenge for a top four place this year. Unfortunately for I Lupi, they had lost several players due to injury but were happy to have Philippe Mexès back from suspension and a strike force led by their icon Francesco Totti. Meanwhile Juve were without much loved Momo Sissoko and their very own icon, Alessandro Del Piero, who was benched in favour of Vincenzo Iaquinta.

Perhaps it was fair to say that both teams looked threatening at the start of the game. However, within 21 minutes, Juve came inches away from taking the lead had it not been for a brilliant save by Roma’s goalkeeper, Julio Sergio. Needless to say, an atrocious error by Marco Cassetti meant that Diego was able to pinch the ball, surge forwards, holding off John Arne Riise in the process, to brilliantly slip the ball into the net and award his side the lead in the 25th minute.
The spectacle was not over as Roma found their response in spectacular fashion less than ten minutes later, when Juventus conceded a free kick. Whilst the Bianconeri players were still arguing the referee’s decision, Daniele De Rossi struck an absolute screamer from 35 yards back straight into the top corner of the net to leave Gianluigi Buffon stunned and the home fans overjoyed. Amauri was unlucky not to have scored after Diego passed him a delightful ball that he struck meticulously only to see it bounce off the post. Likewise, Totti saw his beautiful effort saved at the other end.

After half time, Juventus wasted countless opportunities and Julio Sergio made some outstanding saves. Nonetheless, Diego once again managed to find some space and thanks to a pass from Iaquinta, he slotted in Juve’s second to restore the lead. The Giallorossi tried to react but began to tire and their fatigue was so evident that they allowed Felipe Melo to burst through the centre and fire an unstoppable goal into the bottom corner of the net, allowing the Old Lady their second win to ensure a perfect start.

It is impossible to talk about the Bianconeri’s win without praising the little Brazilian who reminded us all of a little Argentinean who once took Italy and the world by storm. Diego was, undoubtedly, the man who saved Juve and the man who conquered Rome. If anyone was ever apprehensive about his move to one of the top leagues in the world, then his performance on Sunday was certainly proof enough of his capabilities and Ciro Ferrara simply couldn’t disguise his admiration for the little gem. “He has the ability to produce the goods in attack and also give a huge hand at the back in phases of non-possession.” In a word, the lauded Trequarista was simply magnificent. He had the physical strength to hold off Riise, the creativity to create opportunities, the flexibility to aid in defence and a lethal strike to stun the opposition.

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Whilst Diego has been the shining star for Juventus, most fans sincerely hope that his Italian counterpart, Sebastian Giovinco, will also feature for this samba style Juventus. Giovinco also boasts the ability to terrorize the opposition and possesses the same deadly strikes on target, but it is vital that he watches the way in which Diego contributes to Juve’s defence, making the Brazilian an absolute necessity to the team. If the atomic ant can master the Italian art of defence whilst he is recovering from injury, then the Azzurri will have found themselves their very own Italian trequarista to rival any Brazilian import.

On an end note, this excitement that every Juventus fan is feeling this season, the sheer joy of watching their team begin to ascend to the top of the rankings and the genuine belief in their ability to win it all has to be credited to a certain ‘new kid on the block’ Coach. “The battlefield is a scene of constant chaos. The winner will be the one who controls that chaos, both his own and the enemies.” Napoleon Bonaparte once noted. Ferrara is indeed that winner. He has been sublime as a tactician and demonstrated his tactical astuteness by taking off Paolo De Ceglie, moving Giorgio Chiellini to the left and introducing Nicola Legrottaglie as a centre back. Furthermore, unlike his predecessor, he is completely aware of the strengths and limitations of his squad and has chosen and persisted with a great formation built around the little Brazilian to dominate possession. Most importantly, he plays to win and despite the outstanding victory on Sunday, he is still displeased that his team conceded a goal. Now that’s what we call a winning mentality.

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