By Alton Costa
Those who will be last will be first and the first will be last. A biblical expression indeed, it can however be used to picture the unpredictable yet enticing Serie A season kick off. Flaring up dreams of the less accredited teams and exposing weak areas, while giving working material to the teams who will eventually fight for the first positions.
Today’s focus will be on the revolutionized Juventus. Will the ‘old lady’s’ face lift once again bring her shine in the Italian and European panorama?
Should one only look at what Juventus’s new management accomplished during this summer, one would say that this was a very active transfer season. The reality is totally opposite as the minimum was done, even by those teams such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Inter who are always very active in signing champions from one season to the other.
Going back to Juventus, after last disastrous season, there needed to be a strong sign from the team’s top men and this is exactly what happened. The radical change started from the top levels of the society. Consequently eleven new key players were signed up, while another twelve players left the club to seek success elsewhere.
A challenging but exciting task for new coach Gigi Del Neri who needs to assemble and fine tune the team’s mechanisms in the least possible time. The good news for this seasoned coach is that the new signings were specifically acquired to fit in the specific 4-4-2 model he adopts, with strong emphasis on the wings. Juventus also managed to successfully reduce the average age of the team. This means that this year would be the foundation season for a hopeful and bright future, something which other title contenders did not do and which would eventually give the Turin side a step ahead in the coming years.
The very first championship and European games highlighted the lack of team integration by losing 1 – 0 to Bari, tying 3 – 3 their second game home against Sampdoria and the last Europa League 2 – 2 against the Polish side Lech Poznan.
Even though the results and performance were not the best one could hope for, something which could be noticed is that this group has a lot of unexplored resources which will eventually be unveiled by time as the individual players will become a team.
An alarming bell which sounded clearly loud is coming from the left defensive side. After Juventus’ great but unsuccessful effort to sign the brazilian Bastos from Lione which would have settled the matter, they acquired the services of Armand Traore, a young and promising french left back. An injury forced the former Arsenal player to stay out in these first matches and therefore Del Neri gave the keys of that sector to Paolo De Ceglie who’s main strength is attacking and not defending. This was clearly shown as the major problems and rival counter attacks came from that side of the pitch.
Last Sunday’s 4 – 0 away win against Udinese was a fresh breath of air for the millions of Juventus of fans. Giving the first signs of great football and more stability in the defense. This time Del Neri inserted Grygera on the left defensive side giving more stability and equilibrium in defense. Very encouraging signs also came from new signings Milos Krasic (assist man) and Fabio Quariarella (2nd Goal in 3 games). Also positive was the centre midfield as we could appreciate the couple Marchisio and Melo foddering a great mix of talent and strength. Positive signs indeed. Now Juventus have to prove themselves in the coming games, the first one being around the corner as the coming Thursday, they will be battling against a result hungry Palermo.
What Juventus experienced this summer can be compared to an earthquake which shook the foundations of the society and the very first few games were its after shocks. However after watching the team’s performance against Udinese, one could appreciate real potential which gives the Juventus fans something to cling to and hope for a future in line with their successful history.
© Alton Costa 2010