Juventus played a wonderful and collective game against Bari on Sunday that has many wondering what might have been had they started the season with a decent Coach and collected fewer injuries throughout their campaign.
The prize for most outstanding performance belongs to Vincenzo Iaquinta who proved his worth to Juventus. His movement upfront and willingness to search for open spaces was a blessing for Diego who has been cursed with having to play with two static strikers for the majority of his first year in Turin. Together, they exploited each other’s strengths and understood how to intricately pass the ball to one another whilst maintaining movement. Iaquinta is the type of striker that the Old Lady has been desperate for all season and one may go as far as to say that had he not suffered his injury then Juventus would probably have been assured a place in the top four. He loves to spring the offside trap, always gets himself into an ideal position and – most importantly – moves in-between the defence. When comparing him to Amauri and David Trezeguet, both who prefer waiting to be handed the ball, Iaquinta certainly makes for a nice change and allows the fans to watch a more attractive spectacle.
Alberto Zaccheroni’s substitutions in the second half proved to be a masterstroke from the interim Coach and he has to be credited for finally having the courage to make early substitutions. Antonio Candreva has proved to be a vital addition to the squad as not only has he developed his vision but he understands his team’s need for width in attack. By going wide, he pulled markers off Diego and allowed the Brazilian the necessary room to create his magic. Added to that, he is capable of contributing vital assists and has an eye for picking out the forwards. For a youngster that just moved to Turin in January, he has settled in splendidly and definitely warrants a permanent stay.
Owing to a depleted midfield, Christian Poulsen was awarded a starting place and he made sure that no one missed the absentees. Whilst Europe has adopted a type of play that utilizes two burly midfielders to stifle play and retain possession, Barcelona and Spain have evolved enough to recognise that those who know how to keep the ball moving as well as passing the ball effectively means that they can live without the muscle and even come out on top. Poulsen did exactly what the fans have wanted the other two players to do – he kept it simple and neat. He slotted in at the back if one of the defenders surged ahead, he passed the ball accurately, he double marked when he was required to do so, he allowed his fellow midfielders the freedom to attack and he kept his anger in check. For someone who was told he was surplus to requirements at the start of the season, he has transformed himself into a valuable component of the squad and has slowly won the affections of Juventini by working hard to prove his worth. The absence of the muscular duo proved to be a blessing as Poulsen, alongside Claudio Marchisio, the midfield prodigy, helped to keep the ball moving, gave the team an aura of pace and maintained possession.
It has been a while since Juventus played so assuredly and seemed untroubled by the opposition. They were collected, united and motivated throughout the match. Therefore it was especially sad to see their old guard somewhat ruining the match by their petulant childlike behaviour. Mauro Camoranesi was caught barging into the linesman when a decision did not go his way and Alessandro Del Piero seemingly confirmed prior theories that he in fact runs Juventus by screaming at Zac when the Coach was about to substitute him off. Admittedly, the Captain was right as Marchisio had just collapsed in pain and looked like he needed to be taken off but Del Piero was annoyed with the decision even before he spotted an injured Marchisio. He did not want to be taken off and seemed irritated at Zac’s decision even though his lazy touch and indifferent attitude after the whole debacle perhaps justified Zaccheroni’s initial decision. What the icon seems to forget is that he is more than a Captain and more than a player – he is a legend that should always act like one and never be caught shouting at his Coach in a manner typical of Mario Balotelli. One almost felt a little sorry for Zaccheroni before wondering just how much control Del Piero enjoys at Juventus.