It was an ugly win but it was a win nonetheless. Juve secured the vital three points against Maccabi Haifa to ensure their fate remains in their hands. Yes, it wasn’t a vintage performance, nor did this team play like they even deserved a place in this prestigious Championship but what every critic seems to forget is that these small European minnows make it impossible for a good team to play. They either use their full resources to stifle play or they will play dirty tactics to leave half the opposition in the emergency treatment room. You only have to see how Barcelona struggled against the likes of Rubin Kazan and how Liverpool suffered to get the one goal over Debrecen as proof. In the group stage, it’s the small teams that one should worry about the most. Much like last year, Real Madrid was a breeze, but BATE Borisov – Juve could not overcome them. The fact that Juventus managed to achieve full points is surely a victory worth celebrating.
However, what the Bianconeri are missing, and have missed for some time now, are two things – a real master of the pitch and the hunger to play. Without a real captain or a strong figure to dictate play then the squad seems to be in disarray. Tiago looked lost for words, leaving Diego to constantly go back and find the ball, Felipe Melo lost too many vital balls in the middle and Fabio Grosso and Nicola Legrottaglie were virtually anonymous. Ferrara was going crazy on the sidelines shouting over valid instructions but the Coach has no representation on the pitch and these are the times you miss the old guard. The likes of Alessandro Del Piero and Pavel Nedved would be whipping the boys into shape but without a master on the pitch, the squad seems to lack discipline and a leader to depend on. Furthermore, the players seemed highly uninterested in playing and were once again caught napping in the final stages of the game and this time, only the Israeli’s poor finishing allowed the visitors a win. But the victory belongs to Diego, Mauro Camoranesi and Martin Caceres, the only players that night who were eager to carry the name of Juve.
Ferrara stuck with his new favourite 4-2-3-1, which is still the better formation to use especially considering that with all the injuries, he can only afford to put one striker on the pitch. Caceres was simply marvellous as a right back and certainly played in a manner that ensured he received Ferrara’s recognition. Perhaps if he continues then he may just solve the Old Lady’s right back problem. Christian Poulsen put in an excellent performance so that the fans were not left yearning for their Momo Sissoko. As for Diego, he carried the team on his back despite having to work alongside the incompetent Tiago but this formation allows him more freedom to create, although he was, at times, forced to go deep to help the defence. The only thing that was really missing was of course the miniscule Sebastian Giovinco as he suffered muscle fatigue. When your muscles are so tiny, it appears they tire a lot quicker but in hindsight his absence proved a blessing. Considering Haifa’s bullish approach to the game, one has to be glad that Giovinco was spared any blinding attack that would see Tiago having to play that role for the next six months. One match is tolerable but Ferrara is fast realising just how talented this little ant is.
What became apparent with the use of this formation, though, is that should Gio or Camoranesi be unavailable to play, then Juve do not possess the right substitutes to slip into their positions. Paolo De Ceglie did enough to keep the boat afloat but considering the problem the Old Lady has with her full back positions, the boy should be trained as a left back. And then of course there’s Tiago, who, despite his early improvements, will almost always heavily disappoint at some stage to earn the hatred of the Juventinis. No wonder Luciano Moggi doesn’t want to get started on the subject of Tiago but what the ex-sporting director did previously express was his astonishment at Juve’s failure to purchase any wingers. As was so clearly demonstrated in both the game against Napoli and in the one against Haifa, without those two wingers, the team suffers. In their absence, the formation will have to change back to the unimaginative 4-3-1-2 but hopefully by then il Capitano will be back along with Claudio Marchisio to ease the pressure off Diego with quick passes and flashes of ingenuity.
With Bordeaux winning against Bayern Munich, Juve are guaranteed entry into the next round if they win in France. Should they fail, then they will have to prepare for a do or die match on the last day against a Bavarian side that will be desperate to avoid humiliation. Meanwhile, at home, it’s the present Coach vs. what might have been, as the Old Lady square up to Antonio Conte’s Atalanta away on Saturday and should they fail to pick up a victory then, they can kiss the league title goodbye. Conte will be eager to win and prove himself so that the Juve hierarchy will look at him as the future man for their club. In the meantime Ferrara should really look to prove why he is the better man for the job. Let’s be honest, we have a schizophrenic Juventus on our hand and as Claudio Ranieri said, had he been in charge then he would’ve been sacked by now. Yes he surely would have. But what he fails to forget is that winning is not in his blood nor is he afforded the luxury of a learner’s plate. Under him, it was unforgivable to lose considering his vast wealth of knowledge and expertise. As for Ferrara, he is learning with every game and whether he succeeds or not, he will forever be remembered as a Juve legend. Besides, dear Ranieri, surely the results achieved at Roma speak for themselves with regards to your ‘expertise’.
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