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Marzia Hazra On February - 24 - 2010

Can Juventus Conquer Europe Once More?

Juventus ChartThere was little surprise when Juventus, on January 29, decided to give Ciro Ferrara his marching orders after a string of incredibly poor performances, which had seen the Old Lady fall out of the top four.

Alberto Zaccheroni was appointed interim coach and it was to be his duty to drag the Turin outfit back up to the spots generating a place in next season’s Champions League.

However, the expectations weren’t very high considering Juve’s new tactician had only worked approximately for six months in the past five years. Zaccheroni’s only real success had been the Scudetto he collected with AC Milan in 1999. On top of that his preferred system was a 3-4-1-2 formation that just didn’t seem to be compatible with squad he would soon have at his disposal.

Zaccheroni fielded his predecessor’s 4-3-1-2 in his first game in charge against Lazio which ended in 1-1 draw. The outcome was an improvement both in terms of result and performance as the Bianconeri showed more determination and mobility than had been seen during Ferrara’s tutelage.

In the following game against Livorno, the former Milan-tactician fielded his preferred 3-4-1-2 system after a week of intensive training sessions at the Vinovo.
The players were struggling in the new formation but nonetheless welcomed the changes the new coach was implanting on the squad. Zaccheroni were addresses the shortcomings in the team and the confidence among the players were starting to grow.

At least they weren’t losing anymore.

Juventus followed up the two draws with a long awaited victory against Genoa where
Amauri ended his four-month goal drought. Now it was time to enter the continental stage by taking the step into the Europa League where Ajax was patiently waiting.

The days before kick-off pundits around the Peninsula expressed their worries that the Old Lady of Turin might not take the Europe League with the seriousness that it needed. It was, after all, Europe’s second tier we were talking about. However, it was also the club’s only shot at silverware this season after falling behind in the league and crashing out of the Coppa Italia.

In spite of going down early due to Miralem Sulejmani’s goal, the Bianconeri fought back and showed both grit and determination as Amauri bagged a brace just days after ending his goal drought – very much thanks to some inspirational footwork by Alessandro Del Piero who was behind both goals.

Zaccheroni’s men were under siege during the final stages of the game, but Juve defended well and went on to collect an all important 2-1 win in Amsterdam – giving them a great advantage ahead of the return leg which is scheduled to be played on tomorrow evening.

Despite the board’s obvious shortcomings, the appointment of Zaccheroni’s has done Juventus a world of good. The shattered spirits in the team has been replaced with confidence and after Sunday’s second consecutive win against Bologna at the Stadio Dall’Ara, Juventus are once again back in fourth place.

Tomorrow night they’re set to tackle Ajax for the second time in seven days and this time it looks like the mighty Juventus actually have a good chance of progressing to the next stage of the tournament.

It’s time the Old Lady conquered Europe once again – even if it’s just the Europa League.

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