mandag den 24. august 2009

Serie A 2009/10 preview part IV (Juventus)


For the first time since rejoining Serie A Juventus has a realistic chance of the scudetto.

But a lot of things have to go right and very things wrong.

The transfer campaign has been promising. Brazilian star playmaker Diego has joined and he instantly becomes one of the best players in the league.

One who was that last year was his compatriot Felipe Melo. Joining from Fiorentina he is a great physical talent with a smooth passing game who with his arrival potentially makes a full strenght Juventus midfield the strongest in the league.
In the back Fabio Cannavaro is back from Real Madrid. Even if he won't be great anymore (from accounts I've read he actually WAS in his debut last night) he should still be able to form one of the better partnerships around with Giorgio Chiellini.

Also brought in from Barcelona is versatile defender Martin Caceres, but it's unclear how much playing time he will recieve. Personally I would think he should get a chance to prove himself as a fullback while at the same time be a good fourth option for the central defense behind Legrottaglie.

The fullback positions is once again where a lot of Juventus fans place their worries.

On the right side Grygera can still make good contributions forward but defensively there is always a mistake just waiting to happen it seems.
Zebina also has some talent going forward but has lost some pace and is often injured. He is definitely not a number one option for a team searching for greatness. Let's just say that.

On the left we have everyone's favorite Cristian Molinaro. The good thing is that you always know what you're gonna get with Molinaro. The bad thing is that it's never really good.
He just isn't particulary talented and what he does best he does just okay, and especially against good teams he can really fall through.
Unless it's on backup salary his recent 5 year contract extension is a little strange.

His main rival for the job is young leftsided player Paolo De Ceglie.
I suppose out of desperation to see someone, anyone, else than Molinaro play, a lot of Juventus fans really wants De Ceglie to succeed.
I think certainly forward he has a lot more potential than Molinaro but as a defender and even technically, like his passing skills, he still has some ways to go before being a starter on a top team.
His stamina, at least when in a 4-4-2 last year where he had to cover large distances also seemed lacking.

In the first game yesterday Ferrara actualy went with versatile veteran Salihamidzic there. Not exactly a vote of confidence.

So there is no doubt the fullbacks are a weakness. The question is just how much influence they'll have in new coach Ciro Ferrara's more flexible systems compared to Ranieri's 4-4-2 where fullbacks played quite a significant role providing in width.
Certainly in Ferrara's recent 4-3-1-2 a key challenge is defending the flanks and that alone could mean seeing less of the fullbacks going forward.
That then raises the question of the attacking width.

Three of the four striker options all have their main strenghts in the penalty area, so taking out crossing would not seem logical.

On the left undoubtedly the most talented performer is the "atomic ant" Sebastian Giovinco.
Very small in stature he is one of the most exciting attacking talents in the world. Few are faster with the ball at their feet and his low center of gravity makes him quite a nightmare to deal with.
On top of that he has dynamite in his boots resulting in great crosses and explosive shots on goal.
But where to play him?
It's hard to see him on a three-man midfield having to do a lot of two-way play and of course Diego occupy the attacking midfielder spot behind the strikers.

One option would be two defensive midfielders + Diego and then a three forward line up front where Giovinco theoretically could take a place on either side.

Another option would simply be the role I'm sure we'll see Del Piero play a lot. Alongside one of the big strikers and mainly operating from the left, still with Diego behind.
I think Del Piero still has a lot to offer from there. In and around the penalty area from where he can really make use of his magic right foot, but I really hope whenever he isn't a 100 percent, and at his age that's far from all the time, that Giovinco will be the one replacing him most of the time.
If he can be first choice backup for both Diego and Del Piero, and Alex won't automatically still play when he is 80 percent or whatever, then maybe just maybe, there is a chance he'll get the games his talent definitely deserves.

On the right side there are even less options and if fullbacks are going to participate anywhere I guess it's there.
Of midfielders, there really only is Camoranesi to provide any quality width from there and in some ways he is facing the same obstacles Giovinco is on the left.
They're different though and unlike Giovinco it's not that hard to imagine Camoranesi, if in top condition, take a right-central midfielder spot on a three man midfield.

No the real strength of this team looks to be central: Diego with great passing and dribbling ability.
Melo's secure passing and strong tackling and then young Italian midfielder Marchisio, something of everything. With an upside.

Then there is also perhaps the best Juventus player last season
Mohamed Sissoko. While still not a good passer, he has supreme physical tools that makes him a really good two-way player. Whether it's crushing tackles while doing defensive work or being an immovable object while making Patrik Vieira style powerful runs forward.
He has had some injury problems recently but if you're into powerful physical midfield displays, watching him and Melo eventually playing together on the Juventus midfield should be great to watch.

Christian Poulsen, despite attempts to force him out is also still with the team.
He's been one of the better defensive midfielders in Europe for teams such as Schalke and especially Sevilla. And last season he really wasn't any worse. And certainly not as bad as popular opinion will have you believe, but on a club with lofty ambitions used to always winning but just not good enough to do so yet again, he was seen as such.
Personally I like the depth that Poulsen provides. And even if Cristiano Zanetti did a lot of good for Juve in what were tough times, Poulsen is the younger and stronger. Health is a skill too.

Up front Amauri and Iaquinta have quite a lot in common. Including at this point being better strikers than David Trezeguet (for more on that see my "more football entry" on the Berlusconi Tropy game) but how much I like seeing them both play together at the same time with Diego, I'm not really sure.
I think I prefer one of Del Piero/Giovinco getting playing time in a second-striker role together with just one of them, instead of seeing them both kind of do the same things.
Like hinted earlier I'm not sure there is enough crossing for both of them either, and there will also be situations where it's one of them placed out wide providing width, when that would be so much better if it's Alex or Giovinco.
I think Amauri is the better of the two but Iaquinta has turned into a good striker himself and should get games too of course.

I also think all of Del Piero, Giovinco and Amauri are better at complementing, what will be so new on this team, the quality passing down the middle from the Brazilians, Melo and of course first and foremost playmaker Diego.

Who by the way has a frequently updated youtube-channel!

Worth watching: Giorgio Chiellini: In his prime right now, he has all it takes to cement his status as the best current Italian defender.
When it comes to defending he really does everything well, but in my eyes "just" has to take one final mature step away from Materazzi-like reckless, sometimes dirty, tendencies and into great defender territory.
It will be interesting to watch if he will do that this year.

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