Whilst she has yet to take off in Serie A, she carries an air of confidence and prestige about her that seems to have been missing these last few years. Andrea Agnelli has embraced the club with open arms and seems intent on taking it back to former glory. True to his word, the Bianconeri are publicly seeking the return of their stripped Scudetti, are confidently retorting to the snide comments from the ‘innocent’ and are packing the Board full of men who are staunch supporters and football connoisseurs such as the highly adored Pavel Nedved. And additionally, they are financially healthy and compliant with the UEFA financial fair-play regulations. Agnelli has a plan and it shows.
On Sunday afternoon Juventus will take on Lecce, at home. Unlike the other newly-promoted sides this season, the club have been struggling despite the fact they have accrued as many points as Juve this season. However, with the squad at hand, it seems they really cannot make the impact one would have hoped for from last season’s Serie B Champions as they seem more intent on stifling the opponent as opposed to playing their own game. So far this season they have managed to concede eight goals, one less than the Bianconeri but on the other hand have only managed five goals. As their defensive line-up is almost entirely new and deprived of a secure and reliable goalkeeper, it seems feasible that they will struggle to cope with the potent attack of the Bianconeri that has scored the highest number of goals this season.
Coach Del Neri is aware that due to International duty, the players may have lost a little bit of that drive and momentum needed to maintain the club’s good form. Just before the international break, Juventus endured a tough week of fixtures and managed to walk away with a point from each game despite the sheer amount of talent boasted by both opponents. In order to resume the fight domestically the Coach has been giving the players sterns tests in training and has forced them to train with high intensity – so much so that Felipe Melo and Momo Sissoko got carried away by their passion and ended up in an altercation.
This is perhaps the best thing a Coach can do, assuming that this type of training does tire out the players. With each match you notice a more eager and determined Juventus who despite having only accrued eight points in six games carry with them a potential that could well exceed even their own expectations. Del Neri should be praised for the work he has managed so far and should be especially lauded for the impact he has had on the Bianconeri’s psychological conditions. He has somehow managed to turn Melo into a warrior in midfield as the Brazilian has not only vastly improved from last year but now seems to carry with him a deep rooted love for the stripes he wears.
You can also see little improvements in players such as Paolo De Ceglie, the full-back often referred to as non Juve material. The left-back has struggled with his defensive duties and in the start of the campaign many felt that his position would be the team’s Achilles heel. However, in the last two matches and in spite of carrying a slight injury, the defender has put in improved performances and especially shone when faced with the giants of Inter. Unfortunately, the player has yet to prove his reliability in that position and one can already see that with a little more investment, this squad can certainly fight for the top position.
As for the tactically inflexible Del Neri, he seems desperate to rid himself of the label as he toys with fielding a 4-5-1 formation against Lecce on Sunday. Due to the number of injured forwards and the good performance of Sissoko in training, the Coach feels that the formation is perfect considering the players available to him. As Lecce are likely to field a 4-3-3 formation, Juventus’ packed midfield should hold the advantage as they will look to hinder the opponent’s passing game and overwhelm them with quick and short passes in hopes of penetrating their weak defence. Like Alberto Zaccheroni mentioned: “No one in Serie A has three strong central midfielders like Aquilani, Marchisio and Melo.” He is right, throw in the aggressive Sissoko and Juventus have a perfect group in the middle capable of winning the ball back, securing the defence, providing accurate passes and venturing forward in support of attack. It will be interesting to see how this formation fares on Sunday as they have the potential to soar.