Transfer window countdown: Juventus in good shape

As the Christmas break fast approaches, Juventus Coach Luigi Del Neri and Sporting Director Beppe Motta have ample time to consider crucial improvements to their squad. With Inter stalling and Roma suffering a crisis of confidence, Juve have a genuine opportunity to push for the Scudetto – if they can upgrade a few key positions in the team.
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In defence, Juventus’s centre-backs are solid and dependable, and Leanardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini have finally started to gel. With the experienced Nicola Legrottaglie available for cover, le Zebre are well set down the middle. The full-back positions, however, are in urgent need of improvement.
Any frequent observer of Juventus will know that Fabio Grosso is in decline and fades after the hour mark, leaving the Bianconeri vulnerable when the game reaches crunch time. Recent performances have improved but his tendency to try and dribble his way out of trouble should serve as a warning, not helped by his defensive abilities being on the wane.
On the opposite flank, Marco Motta remains a weak link. Such a threat going forward, the youngster still lacks the discipline and positional sense needed at the highest level. Luckily, in 19-year-old Dane Frederick Sorensen, Juventus have uncovered a very sharp-looking prospect. Nevertheless, if Juve are serious about pushing for their first ‘legitimate’ title since 2003, they must surely be in the market for two solid and adventurous full-backs.
In midfield, Juventus are spoilt for choice. Alberto Aquilani, Milos Krasic and Felipe Melo have all delivered breathtaking performances this season. While it is fair to say Claudio Marchisio has not developed as quickly as expected, he is a hard worker in the mould of a young and passionate Simone Perrotta.
Elsewhere, players like Davide Lanzafame, Momo Sissoko and Hasan Salihamidzic are clearly second-string and should the injury-prone Aquilani once again find himself hobbled, Juventus will struggle for creativity. Perhaps Del Neri will have his eye on a schemer to pull the strings in midfield when the Liverpool loanee is either unavailable or feeling uninspired.
Simone Pepe deserves a paragraph of his own. Despite being arguably Juventus’ least technically gifted player, the former Udinese man is going through his best spell in the famous black and white shirt. That said, Del Neri has used him sparely and it would be a huge surprise if he is not seeking a replacement. The team’s attacking play would be vastly improved if they could secure the services of a right-winger with the composure and natural ability to deliver quality balls into danger areas.
In attack, the Bianconeri remain enigmatic, with Alessandro Del Piero and Fabio Quagliarella having quietly impressive seasons so far. As most Juventus followers must be aware, Vincenzo Iaquinta and Amauri score very rarely and it seems inconceivable that Marotta hasn’t already lined up a quality attacker to contribute his fair share of goals. The names thrown around by the press – Edin Dzeko, Emmanuel Adebayor – hint that the new arrival will be exactly what Juventus need right now: a powerful striker to get on the end of crosses and hold the ball for advancing players like Krasic and Marchisio.
Lastly, between the sticks, Juventus have no worries whatsoever. Marco Storari is having a great season, which should make Gigi Buffon’s inevitable re-introduction to the team much smoother.
Overall, despite their somewhat mercurial displays so far this season, Juve are only six points off the pace in Serie A. If they remain within touching distance in a month’s time and spend wisely, don’t write them off as title winners just yet.

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