The goal Bordeaux scored was offside, the rain hindered their performance and both Claudio Marchisio and Christian Poulsen squandered magnificent chances at goal but was it simply a case of bad luck when Juventus played Bordeaux in the Champions League? Going into their first match at home, the team and Coach Ciro Ferrara knew that it would not be easy. Bordeaux are, by all means, a formidable team and are at the helm of Ligue 1, having remained unbeaten in their last 17 games. “We know we’re facing a great team, which is the case for every game in the Champions League”, Nicola Legrottaglie noted prior to the game and Ferrara was right to have informed his team of the need to respect their French opponents. However, they might have respected their challengers a little too much as the squad seemed nervous and struggled from the get go. Had they entered the pitch with their heads held high, perhaps a tad more arrogant and aware that they were facing a team of a lower pedigree, they might have not allowed the French champions so much ball possession.
Instead, this Juve team played with trepidation, surged hesitantly and allowed the French champions a great game. Unfortunately, the Old Lady faced her first group match with a long list of injuries. Diego had not yet recovered from the thigh strain suffered in the match against Lazio and joined Alessandro Del Piero, Momo Sissoko, Zdeněk Grygera and Hasan Salihamidžić in the treatment room. In addition to the injuries, Giorgio Chiellini was suspended for the game, allowing for Legrottaglie to start alongside Fabio Cannavaro. Meanwhile, opposition Coach Laurent Blanc had a full squad to choose from without any injuries or suspensions to contend with. And so the Old Lady, brimming with confidence after her match against Lazio, took to the pitch and as the whistle blew, immediately began to struggle.
Only three minutes into the game and Gianluigi Buffon was called into action when Fernando Menegazzo came bursting through with a clear shot on target. Juventus had some chances for goal soon after but could not find the back of the net as Bordeaux did well to keep the ball. However, as far as creativity goes, the Old Lady was missing the Diego touch. When the second half started, Juventus were only marginally better. Legrottaglie had to block a shock almost immediately from left winger Wendel and Yoann Gourcuff saw his shot punched away by the Bianconeri goalkeeper.
The Old Lady finally had her chance when a free kick taken by Tiago unleashed Vincenzo Iaquinta on the counter, only to see his efforts denied by Cedric Carrasso. The goalkeeper had to be replaced after the incident and made way for the substitute, Ulrich Ramé. Eventually, the Italian forward finally broke the deadlock and allowed Ferrara to breathe a sigh of relief. Fabio Cannavaro superbly threaded the ball through for the Bianconeri striker who powerfully struck the ball inside the near post.
The subsequent few moments saw beautiful saves from both goalkeepers as once again Buffon was forced to make a one handed save to prevent Fernando an equaliser, meanwhile Ramé flicked off Amauri’s effort from the line. Nevertheless, Bordeaux eventually found the controversial equaliser, even though many thought it to be offside when Jaroslav Plašil lobbed the ball into the back post after a free kick. Juve attempted to find the winner but both Poulsen and Marchisio missed outstanding opportunities to take away maximum points.
“I saw [the match]. They are a team of great players, but not one that can win big things at the European level”, Luciano Moggi, the ex Juve sporting director said after the match. Ferrara will be hoping to prove him wrong but is this Juve capable of winning the Champions League? Probably not. There are numerous reasons why the Bianconeri failed in the Stadio Olimpico di Torino. Firstly the weather meant that the midfield was stifled when it came to passing the ball along the ground. Secondly, there was the issue of injuries. This was said before and it will be said again – Juve’s first team is superb but their reserves leave a lot to be desired. The winner of the Champions League is the team that is able to succeed despite injuries, suspensions and fatigue. Without the greats such as Buffon, Diego, Del Piero, Melo, and Chiellini, the club is left with a squad that is more fitting to the Europa League. Poulsen demonstrated his mediocrity once again, Giovinco requires time to develop and Martin Cáceres has yet to demonstrate true defensive capabilities.
Without injuries, Juventus most definitely can succeed but with a long season, it truly is the survival of the fittest. Management has stated that the Juve project is a long one and it will take time before the entire team is packed full of stars who can lift the coveted trophy. One thing is for certain, they need a speedy and aggressive striker. Once again, Amauri was unable to find a goal and was seen throwing his hands in the air over and over again to rue his missed chances. And despite having a career reviving goal on the weekend, David Trezeguet was benched to make way for the Iaquinta and Amauri partnership.
Nevertheless, the Bianconeri were very unlucky to have conceded an offside goal and to have missed such sublime chances for goal. But football is very much a game of luck and refereeing mistakes have come to be the norm. Expectations are riding high for this new look Juve, but Ferrara should really look to take the Old Lady back to her place at the top of the domestic league before tackling the champions of Europe. Besides the Scudetto is always Juventus’ first objective.
Bordeaux will now have to be forgotten as Juve take on Livorno at home this Saturday and yet again the nurse’s office will be packed with an even longer list of injured players. Felipe Melo, Cannavaro and Tiago are all wounded and likely to be excluded from the upcoming match. Luckily, the Old Lady will be facing a side that is low on morale and one that has yet to win a game. Two goalless draws along with a loss at Napoli have perhaps left Livorno low on self esteem, coupled with a history of losses to the Bianconeri means that the opposition might just extend their perfect start.
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