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Adam Digby On January - 7 - 2011

Juventus: There’s No Place Like…Away

Much improved from last season, Juventus are playing brilliantly on their travels but, as the game against Parma proved, they are struggling to replicate that form at home. Adam Digby looks at this odd problem, and struggles to answer why. Enjoy the journey…

During the 1995 NBA Western Conference Finals, San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Bob Hill booked his team into a hotel in preparation for the pivotal game five, a match to be played in their own Alamodome arena. Why? Because up to that point neither they nor their opponents the Houston Rockets had won at home in any of the first four games. In failing to win in their own building the Spurs had made the series tough to win and Hill attempted to recreate the feeling of playing ‘away’ in their own stadium. It is perhaps an understandable ploy given the results (2-2 at that stage) and one Gigi Delneri may well look to emulate in the coming weeks.

Much like those basketball clubs, Juventus are beginning to ruin their chances of earning anything from this season with a series of inept displays at home. Thursday lunchtime saw yet another example of this as the team imploded and collapsed to a 4-1 defeat to a Parma outfit struggling to make any impression in Serie A at the moment. It was their second loss in nine matches at Turin’s Stadio Olimpico which, along with three draws means the Bianconeri have dropped twelve points already, even half of which would leave the league table looking vastly different.

The side has also conceded sixteen goals, the worst home record in the entire division. The trend also continued in the Europa League where Salzburg held Juve to a 0-0 draw and Lech Poznan earned an incredible 3-3 draw, two results which effectively ended the hope of any further European involvement for la vecchia Signora. Away from home the performances could not be in more stark contrast as their nine trips have seen them lose only once - on the opening day in Bari - and have only allowed five goals. That Bari loss was also understandable given the hastily assembled nature of the team and how many of the players had only recently arrived.

Most of the more impressive results have come away from Turin with wins against Milan, Genoa and Catania, as well as a brilliant performance in the 0-0 draw with Inter. The reasons for this are tough to accurately assess. The team sets up the same way, plays the same style and tempo with the same personnel, and to blame it on bad luck is just ridiculous. There are some mitigating circumstances of course, such as Felipe Melo’s idiotic red card against Parma, but most worryingly it is the team looking so frustrated when they should in fact be dominating at home. The games against Sampdoria and Palermo were simply shocking performances, repeats of which must be quickly eradicated at all costs. 

Of course the tactics of opponents visiting Turin play a role in making the games different, but even that is almost an excuse. You would expect visiting teams to be well organised and tactically aware, forcing Juve to find ways to score and generally looking to snatch a goal on the break in the ‘park-the-bus’ mentality so often associated with Serie A. Yet that would not account for the marked increase in opposition goals already discussed, a worrying trend that is directly opposed to the general approach of Delneri.

It seems this whole situation is merely a mental issue, one the club, the coach and the players must address as soon as possible. With Inter, Napoli and Milan still to visit Turin the results could yet get much worse. Copying the example of San Antonio may be one way to solve the problem, (although the Spurs did actually get beaten then too!) but whatever happens Juventus must bring their best performances home quickly.

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