Following Edinson Cavani’s tremendous hat-trick of headers on Sunday against Juventus, in front of the passionate and baying San Paolo crowd in Naples, Juventus manager Gigi del Neri looked bemused at this team which has continued where they left off from last season, under managers Ciro Ferrara and Alberto Zaccheroni.
Certainly, losing to Napoli is no embarrassing matter, nor is conceding to one of the hottest strikers in Europe, however the manner in which Juventus performed left a lot to be desired. Currently, Juve lie nine points off leaders AC Milan and their problems have been compounded further following the long term injury to the inspirational Fabio Quagliarella. Though known previously for a scorer of tremendous goals, Quagliarella has added something different; the ability to poach and buzz around the centre-backs in true striker fashion. Rather than looking to replace like for like or perhaps looking to the past and bringing Antonio Cassano back to the club, the club went totally left field and in need of goals, Luca Toni – three in fifteen at Genoa – has been brought in, perfectly illustrating Juve’s lack of ability in the transfer market, unlike what Luciano Moggi possessed.
Though, Juventus’ plight however can’t be pinned on Calciopoli. They were initially relegated to Serie B and then bounced straight back up and finished second under Claudio Ranieri in the following season. However, Juventus have since been unable to maintain order and a direction in how they are going to challenge successfully for the Scudetto. Del Neri is the fourth manager in three years at the club and whilst Juventus will feel they deserve to be in the Champions League spots, the last two performances has garnered only one goal and seven conceded. Definitely not top four team form.
This will prove to be a testing period for Juventus, who like at this time last season, have been knocked out of Europe and supporters yet again will sought solace in the league. Unlike last season, however, the team is playing with reasonable organisation and technically attractive football but the defence does somewhat leave a lot to be desired.
Capturing the signature of talented defender Leonardo Bonucci was inspired from Beppe Moratta however his displays in 2011 with the usually reliable Giorgio Chiellini, will unnerve many supporters for the coming games of not only the Bianconeri but too of the Azzurri, as this partnership is regarded as the best in the country. With many of the defenders such as Fabio Grosso, Zdenek Grygera and Nicola Legrottagllie expecting to face the cull as Moratta is looking to reshape and freshen the squad with younger talent, perhaps the experience of Andrea Barzagli will be called upon more so than ever as the team requires some much needed street-smart stability to get the team through this mire form.
Likewise, the attacking side could also be refreshed. Amauri, Alessandro del Piero and Luca Toni don’t really have the pace to trouble the opposition nor the goals and especially in del Piero’s case, the fitness. Talk of Atletico Madrid striker Diego Forlan joining could help galvanize the attacking side though one would think he may not be enough for the team.
January will prove to be a vital month for results on and off the pitch. Juventus have to act swiftly otherwise it could be another season without Champions League football.