Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

James Dielhenn On September - 20 - 2010

The Rise Of Juve And The Pain Of Inter

So far this season, Serie A has been unpredictable.  Whether the smaller teams have improved, or the big teams are performing below-par, the gap has definitely got smaller between the top and the bottom of the league.

Inter, the all-conquering Scudetto winners and European Champions of last season, are seemingly suffering from a lack of motivation to reproduce their achievements.  Jose Mourinho has gone, leaving a near-impossible job for Rafa Benitez.  Inter’s short-comings were first seen in the European Super Cup against Atletico Madrid, where Benitez’s men were lacklustre and lethargic.

Benitez made it clear that he wanted to revamp his already impressive squad to give them fresh hunger for the forthcoming campaign.  Javier Mascherano and Dirk Kuyt seemed the most likely additions from Benitez’s former club Liverpool.  Strangely, Massimo Moratti was clearly reluctant to dip his hand into his pocket, and thus Mascherano moved to Barcelona and Kuyt reaffirmed his commitment to Liverpool.  After years of spending to bring success, Moratti maybe feels the time is right to leave things as they are.

However, the predominantly unchanged Inter squad has performed well below expectations so far this season.  Diego Milito, who scored goals in all competitions for fun under Mourinho, has still yet to open this season’s account, and is going through his longest goal drought since he came to Italy.  Cracks may be appearing, as Milito was seen criticising Bentiez’s decision to substitute him last weekend, as Inter had to rely on Samuel Eto’o's brace to undeservedly beat Palermo.

If anyone is going to take Inter’s crown after years of dominating Serie A, it may well be Juventus.  They too have a change in manager, with Luigi Del Neri handed the reigns to what seemed like a sinking ship.  Beppe Marrotta was brought in to oversee an extensive squad overhaul that had fans drooling, but in the end, his acquisitions were met with scepticism.  Italy internationals Fabio Quagliarella, Leonardo Bonucci and Simone Pepe were shrewdly brought in, alongside the hot prospect Milos Krasic.

But Juve didn’t click immediately.  It seemed Marrotta had brought in a group of average players for big price-tags, and Juve wouldn’t come any closer to challenging for honours than they did last season.  There were even whispers that Marrotta had been quoted saying that Juve didn’t have enough champions to win the Scudetto this year.

But on Sunday, things seemingly changed.  Juve, playing an Udinese side who are a lot better than their two previous defeats suggested, were a cohesive unit.  New signings Bonucci and Quagliarella scored, and Claudio Marchisio and Vincenzo Iaquinta completed a 4-0 win.  Four Italian internationals, no less.

Inter, conversely, have a much more talented team than Juve’s, but are lacking in desire and confidence.  Maybe the lack of pressure on Juve after an apparently disappointing transfer campaign means they can mount a Scudetto challenge without the spotlight.  We have all expected Inter to replicate last season’s dominance, which is seeming like a weight on their shoulders.  Benitez may soon find himself under pressure unless performances pick up, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Juventus reclaim the prize that has eluded them since the Calciopoli scandal that destroyed their strangehold over Serie A.

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