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A game pitting two of European footballs true aristocracy against each other should by rights be a title decider as it was in 2005 or even, as was the case two years prior to that, a Champions League Final, but that was never the case as Juventus prepared for their latest clash with Milan. In a match many believe to be the true ‘derby d’Italia’, both teams struggled to create much attacking spark but this was really just a glamorous prologue for the Bianconeri and their under-fire coach Gigi Delneri.

it was clear he accepts a large portion of the responsibility and is willing to change from the opening minutes here against the Rossoneri. Firstly the experiment of Giorgio Chiellini at fullback was abandoned as he returned to his usual role in central defence with Leonardo Bonucci making was as Armand Traoré came into a back-line also containing Frederik Sørensen and Andrea Barzagli. The greatest shift however was the scrapping of Delneri’s favoured zonal marking system and the team matched Milan man-for-man at all times.

Making this switch allowed Chiellini to shadow Zlatan Ibrahimovic across the pitch, nullifying the oppositions greatest threat and leaving a Milan side already shorn of the injured Alexandre Pato struggling to create many opportunities. Antonio Cassano was selected to start over Robinho and was at the heart of the good attacking play they did manage to sporadically display. Often pulling out wide left he looked to exploit Sørensen who is Juve’s slowest defender.

Forty-five minutes came and went almost without event, the two teams cancelling each other out as Jorge Martinez joined Felipe Melo - who tracked Kevin-Prince Boateng closely - and Claudio Marchisio centrally to ensure it was three against three in the central area. Milan’s workman-like midfield was deployed to stop Juve’s more potent mix but the game became extremely narrow and neither side had the quality at fullback to make a difference.

The second half introductions of Robinho, Alessandro Del Piero and Vincezo Iaquinta did little to alter the match and that the goal came from perhaps the most unlikely source imaginable says much about the creativity of both sides. Gennaro Gattuso’s left foot would, the two goalkeepers aside, be the last place anyone would expect the goal to come from, but that is exactly what happened here, breaking the stalemate after 68 minutes.

It seems strange to say it but the next two fixtures - away to Cesena then at home to Brescia - will have far more influence and consequences for the clubs immediate and indeed long term future. The coach must recover the cohesive group he had built before the winter break, displaying the effort and grinta synonymous not only with Juventus but also with Delneri’s teams. Failure to achieve this will see not only his sacking but most likely a greater number of personnel changes than necessary.

Before continuing it is important to remember a number of irrefutable facts without which an open and frank discussion cannot prosper. Firstly a number of myths need to be dispelled and foremost of these is that Luciano Moggi will never return. Yes he may eventually attend a number of games but EXOR have made their position abundantly clear.

Next is the question of a lack of champions, which has never really been the Juventus style in the transfer market. Setting aside the summers of 1957, 2001 and 2004 the club has never bought ready made players. Zinedine Zidane was less well known than Milos Krasic prior to joining Juve, Edgar Davids was unwanted and the side was filled with men comparable to Leonardo Bonucci and Simone Pepe today - think Mark Iuliano and Angelo Di Livio.

At the heart of what made them great was the coach, a coach who came from a provincial side, bringing with him that small team mentality and work ethic. Carlo Ancelotti came after securing Champions League football for Parma, Marcello Lippi from taking Napoli to sixth place and neither man inherited a Juventus team with as many problems as the one that Delneri found upon his arrival last May. While seeing the team lose to Bologna and Lecce is not what anyone with any affection for the club wishes to witness there is more to this situation than the results on the field.

The three years under Alessio Secco’s stewardship were basically wasted, a lost period that can never be recaptured. For all intents and purposes the restructuring, revitalising and rejuvenating of the squad were long overdue and Beppe Marotta has arguably done two seasons work in a single summer. This means there are twelve players who must learn the consequences of losing at a big club that - while acceptable at Udinese and Catania - losing for Juventus carries a heavy price.

All of which brings us back to Delneri, a man who last season took a far less talented Sampdoria to the top four. The team was much more cohesive and organised than the Juventus he inherited and the work done this season perhaps puts the team on a par with the team he found when arriving in Genoa in the summer of 2009. Yes that is a sad statement of fact but it remains the truth and shows how far the club had fallen under the previous regime.

Even if the club should fail in its stated aim of finishing this season in the Champions League berths Delneri should remain. He has another year on his contract and should see out that commitment. With the permanent additions of the quality loanees (Pepe, Alberto Aquilani, Fabio Quagliarella and Ale Matri) as well as three or four more signings the team will be complete. A strong starting right back, a couple of reserve midfielders and perhaps a left back will round out a well equipped squad that then must undoubtedly flourish.

12 Responses so far.

  1. On losing to Milan, surely before the game, this was always a possibility and the resulting situation is one of the result dictating the narrative. The next two games against Brescia and Cesena are very important (While the joy of winning against rivals shouldn’t be denied, MUFC won the league 2 years back by gaining 58 pts of possible 60 from bottom 10 clubs in EPL I think). If Juventus do not win those games, the pressure on Delneri might be unimaginable. But before being labelled a “Sampdoria” coach, some of these players wouldn’t make that Sampdoria side. Give him and Marotta 2 years and see the result. It’s not that success is assured with any other person and Marotta being the reasonable man he is and Delneri being the good coach he is should be assessed after the Quality not Quantity Mercato and after the season working with with more quality players respectively.

  2. Shravan says:

    Adam, I have fast becoming a fan of your writing and this blog in general. Thanks so much.

    - a fan from India.

  3. Damir says:

    Unbelievable. Truly is unbelievable.

    What must happen for you to loose this optimism? What will it take for you to admit - they are useless, and unworhty of the shirt they are wearing?

    What? Please, tell me… What?

  4. Ted says:

    All I heard at the beginning of the season, was how great Juve were. How they drew with Inter, and beat Milan, how after the Lazio game, they weer Scudetto challengers. How Krasic was a World Class player..etc,etc,etc..

    Funny how things change in Football.Juve are a complete disaster. They’ve spent more cash then ANY team in Italy, yet they continue to fail…lol.

  5. Ted says:

    A lot of people criticized Diego last season, many called him a FLOP. Yet, how his Krasic escaping these criticisms, Adam? He hasn’t had a good game, since Lazio. and that was around Christmas, nearly 3 months ago. I’m stunned that he only has 4 goals…with the hype around him, I thought he had around 10..

    • Adam Digby says:

      Krasic is simply tired after starting his season last March. The Diego criticisms were largely unfounded as his struggles were more the fault of having no regista, perhaps fans learning not to be so judgemental? Giving Krasic time to show and prove?

    • Ted says:

      Fair enough. I also think another factor is his demise, is the fact that he’s been ” found out “..every team is double marking him. Krasic’s reputation as a diver, isn’t helping him either..he has to literally be thumped in order to get a foul, in his favor. I still think Juve can qualify for Europe, unfortunately it might have to be the Europa League. At the end of the day, at least it’s something.

      Adam, have your feelings change towards Del Neri. I reckon he’s a bit stubborn, and some of his decisions are strange…I know you fully support the man, just wondering, if you’ve changed your opinion?

    • Damir says:

      No, Adam, criticisms directed at Diego were all founded. And they were to mild, ’cause they should have been more harsh.

      He was a flop. Reasons for him floping were many, but him being a flop is beyond a shred of a doubt.

      Krasić, on the other hand, wasn’t anounced as the “saviour” or as the finest, best, most superlative player ever (as Diego was), and also, Krasić isn’t moaingn and winding about formations, tactics etc. as Diego was.

      Krasić has entered a phase of low-form. it happens. That’s all.

  6. Ted says:

    Milan were absolutely dreadful this game. No creativity in midfield. Maybe that will change when Pirlo returns…

  7. Bassel says:

    Roberto Baggio, Gianluca Vialli, Ian Rush… i could name a good list of big spendings on some established players which didnt happen in 57, 01, 04, i frankly dont agree on this idea that everyone mentions, i say that this became the case once Juventus became operating as a real company and when it became self reliant. Zidane was pretty much know to European football followers by 96, with some top class performances with Beurdeux in the Uefa Cup a year before,but it’s true, it’s us who made him the best player in the world.

    • Adam Digby says:

      Yes of course Juve bought some established players, but my point is those summers aside they haven’t spent huge amounts of money on groups of players, just one or two additions which isn’t what people are demanding right now. Zidane cost Juventus £3.6m which, however well known he was, is no major investment for a club like Juventus. Thank you for taking time to read & for commenting, both very much appreciated.

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