Football Italiano’s 500@five – Requiem for Juventus

Juventus’ downward spiral continued last night as the team plummeted out of European competition after a shocking 4-1 loss to Fulham.

It seems as if people have been talking about it forever, but Juventus’ season just keeps getting more and more desperate each week. After managing to squander a 3-0 lead to Siena at home, the Old Lady sentenced its fans to further misery after a humiliating defeat at the hands of Fulham. The demise of this once great side has been exaggerated by many in the media, but last night for the first time it looked like the coup de grace had been delivered.

As the players walked back to the dressing rooms, a hail of abuse was hurled by the traveling fans. Alessandro Del Piero cut a sorry figure for the second time in as many games as he struggled once more to explain the Bianconeri’s capitulation. A visibly distraught Del Piero said:“It’s a disaster…one of the worst moments of my Juve career”.

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“Vattene Blanc e Secco” rained down from the away section at Craven Cottage last night as increasingly desperate fans demanded the resignations of President Jean Claude Blanc and transfer director Alessio Secco, but to point fingers at individuals is really of no help to the Juve cause at this stage. The fear which used to strike teams when they visited the Delle Alpi or when the Old Lady came visiting has been destroyed, the club trapped in a defeatist mentality. Qualification for next year’s Champions League is looking more and more unlikely and, if Italy loses its fourth qualification spot, appearances at Europe’s top level may become a rarity.

However, the players in the Juve squad are not as bad as results may suggest with the majority of the squad, the ageing Fabio Cannavaro and Alessandro Del Piero aside, showing potential for the coming seasons. The pool of young talent may not be as extensive at Vinovo as it once was, but there is enough of it to prove useful. It is high time the Bianconeri starts to tap into their youthful resources and freshen up what has become a beleaguered first team.

Although youth is useful in some situations, a veteran defender alongside Giorgio Chiellini would go a long way towards solving the club’s defensive issues. The world’s top players may shy away from Turin because of the club’s recent form, but surely players such as Gabriel Heinze or Per Kroldrup would be attainable. There have been reports that the Bianconeri are thinking of recalling Raffaele Palladino in exchange for the full ownership rights of Domenico Criscito with Genoa. This may not be such a wise move, as Juve’s primary concern remains the porous defence which has conceded three or more goals on six different occasions this season.

With a disastrous season fast coming to a close, the Juve faithful will be hoping that the team can, at the very least, qualify for the Champions League. If that target is not achieved there will surely be a clamour for the resignations of many of the club’s senior decision-makers.

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