Del Piero 50
Totti (pen) 67, Riise 93
Roma smashed and grabbed the three points yesterday evening in what was, in all honesty, an awful game of football. ESPN’s free weekend must have hoped for a better spectacle than what was put on display by two of Serie A’s biggest clubs, but for the neutral the game did little to persuade anyone who was not a subscriber to part with their hard earned cash.
For those of us who did tune in, and had maybe not watched much Italian football since the exhilarating days of James Richardson and Channel 4, they must be scratching their heads and asking one thing – just what has happened to Juventus? The Old Lady of Turin was anything but special and looking down at the 11 names on the team-sheet even before the game had begun, it clearly showed the state of the problem for the Bianconeri and its beleaguered Coach Ciro Ferrara.
This once great majestic team is in the palatial gutter. The word Juventus itself does not sound Italian. It conjures up thoughts of Olympus and of a bygone mythical era. Juventus is the team of the Gods, not a club of mere mortals but of supreme beings. If Zeus and Hercules were watching this match, they most certainly will have had black and white scarves draped around their necks. That image though, has all but evaporated into the mists of time. There was once a team that fielded the world’s greatest players, people like Michel Platini, Roberto Baggio, Zinedine Zidane, Claudio Gentile, Marco Tardelli, Zibi Boniek and Michael Laudrup to name just a few. Yet on Saturday, those that stepped on to the pitch to face Roma, were anything but from another planet. A team of ‘nobodies’ (save Gigi Buffon) whose performance was as instantly forgettable as Ciro Ferrara’s soon-to-be ended Juventus coaching career.
Claudio Ranieri’s team was no picture of perfection either, but they were certainly more organised as a collective. They went a goal down but did not become desperate, and managed to reverse the result. A Juventus team coached by Marcello Lippi or Giovanni Trapattoni would never have afforded Roma such an opportunity, especially playing at home. But then, those two men didn’t have a squad stocked with players either past their best or that should never really be anywhere near a Juve shirt. Would it be disrespectful to name them? Possibly, but we will name them none the less. Nicola Legrottaglie, Hasan Salihamidzic, Zdenek Grygera, Momo Sissoko and Amauri. How have these players (and it is important to differentiate between these players and past greats in major decline, such as Fabio Cannavaro, Fabio Grosso and Alessandro Del Piero) managed to secure a contract, playing football for one of the most historically powerful and successful clubs in world football? That surely is the reaction that many of us watching the game would have had. Juventus – perhaps more the ‘Fat Lady’ than the ‘Old Lady’, because it truly is over.