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Juventus 1 – 0 Bologna

20 Apr

Approaching this match, knowing that two wins in our next two league fixtures would send us to Rome needing only a draw to clinch our third straight scudetto, there was reason to be both excited and nervous. Especially after our rivals earned a valuable 0-1 away victory in Florence, reducing the gap between us back to five points.

Tevez and Vidal were named on the bench, both players still nursing slight injuries with Bonucci and Lichstiner suspended.

In place of the suspended Bonucci, Ogbonna put in another solid showing.

To the surprise of nobody, Conte lined up with our trademark 3-5-2, offering Giovinco a chance to continue his recent spurt of fine form in attack alongside Llorente. Behind him, Pirlo took up the position of fulcrum, flanked by Pogba on his right and Marchisio on the opposite side of the trident. Out wide in the wing-back areas, Asamoah matched up with Isla (who came in for the suspecneded Lichsteiner). It was Ogbonna who took up the Bonucci role, which at times can seem closer to libero than pure stopper.

We emerged from the traps at a decent pace. Immediately pushing forward and applying pressure to the Bologna blockade. Our opponent’s plan to defend in large numbers, keep 9 men behind the ball at all times and show zero interest in scoring was evident from the first whistle. Even when they were given the chance to counter, we invariably had 2-3 defenders to clean up at the back masterfully.

Pogba was looking lively. Pirlo in fine fettle. Asamoah strangely subdued, although he was faced with a wall of opponents whenever attempting to make in-roads into the final third. On the opposite flank, Isla was seeing much more of the ball, largely due to the dominating physical presence and wonderful technique of the nearby Frenchman.

Most of the first half was taken up with the same slow, deliberate build-up passing game we so often adopt against smaller teams whose prime objective is to hold firm defensively and cut off our supply routes on the wings and through the middle. Llorente found a few useful positions, as did Giovinco, but the two of them are yet to find any harmony as a pair, with both operating on different wavelengths at crucial moments when a chance could have been created and finished.

No changes were made by Conte in the interval. Clearly his thinking was that we would win the war of attrition, continue our laboured, obvious passing game, wear them down, hope for a moment of magic, or a mistake for us to capitalize upon.

Pogba – Possibly the greatest midfield talent on the planet.

It took until the 64th minute for us to finally break the dead-lock. And what a beautiful goal it was, arriving from the explosive feet of Pogba. Picking the ball up in the inner right channel from Isla, the youngster brought the ball down and smashed an unstoppable drive past the keeper from just outside the box. Just reward for an overall performance which stood out for its power, precision and skill. A true rifle-shot of a strike.

The goal caused a momentary wave of added confidence in our ranks and confusion in the Bologna rearguard yet soon enough the status quo reappeared and we reverted to the calm pressure routine whilst keeping things tidy at the back.

Padoin made a late appearance and did absolutely nothing and it was pleasing to see Vidal make a brief cameo in the dying moments. What was somewhat discouraging was the manner in which we spent the final minutes growing increasingly concerned and inviting Bologna onto us. For the first time in the whole match our opponents seemed to believe they could get something from the game and we were on the back-foot until the ref blew the final whistle. Immense relief washed through the ranks and stadium as a whole, with passionate embraces all round between manager and players symbolizing how much this victory meant to the club.

Stand out performers were few and far between since we were hardly tested defensively. And had a mountain to climb offensively due to the stifling, smothering tactics employed by Ballardini in the enemy dug-out.

Pogba was the most potent player on the field. More capable than any other of not only retaining possession when faced with an opponent, but also carving out space. Only fellow beasts can match him physically and his skill-set on the ball is slowly but surely maturing. Less fancy tricks, more successful dribbles. His shooting has never been in question, especially from long range.

At this rate, the 21 year old will soon be regarded as not only a world class talent in the making, but as one of the best midfielders in the world, such is his progress this season. There seems no major weakness to his game. Perhaps the most important transfer of the close season will be a non-transfer, keeping Paul at the club for at least another season, hopefully more.

Barzagli was average on his return to first team action, lacking match-sharpness as to be expected, but our fortunes are greatly improved by his calm presence in the first XI. The quicker he regains form the better our chances of success. Ogbonna was strong in the tackle, decisive and error-free, attempting to replicate Bonucci’s distribution responsibilities in a muted fashion.

I was interested to see Isla. He produced an assist for Pogba, worked very hard on the touchline and was noticeably more involved in the game than his counter-part on the left. The Chilean could have scored himself, after cutting in beautifully and launching the ball goalwards with his left boot. Has he done enough to warrant completing his purchase over the Summer??? For me, not in the slightest. Best to renew the co-ownership or attempt to recoup the 9m initial outlay for the 50% stake. Asmoah looks good value for the 18m we paid. To spend as much on former Udinese pal Isla would be criminal.

Up top, Llorente was useful for flick-ons and lay-offs, but rarely came close to a clear cut opening. His strike partner, Giovinco, won plenty of free-kicks, caused a steady nuisance and created a couple of good chances for other players. However, neither player impressed.

A mention should be made of Marchisio, who – as always – stuck to his task diligently, put his health on the line on a few occasions when blocking or intercepting the ball, found himself kicked, scythed, pole-axed and shoved all over the place. He is truly a great servant to the club.

Bologna were very robust in their approach to the game. Our strike force of the spaniard and imp was too weak to break through the brutal attention of Sorensen in particular, but also Antonsson, who pummelled the flimsy front men repeatedly throughout the match. This is one of the main problems with Giovinco; his complete lack of physicality. As for Llorente…I expect better of him, but it will take time to adjust fully to the sharp differences in defending between la liga and Serie A.

Freddy ‘the ice-man’ Sorensen showing off his pretty ear necklace…

It was a very encouraging performance by 22 year old Freddy Sorensen. A player I have admired since he first broke into our line-up in late 2010, merely months after joining our primavera in the Summer. His natural strength and intelligent reading of the game marked him out back then as a player of serious potential and I am glad to see him more than hold his own around far more seasoned professionals. If we are in the market for a centre-back, Conte and Beppe would be wise to consider the Dane. His contract runs until 2016 and I hope we renew the co-ownership deal in the Summer. Whilst his value continues to rise, prudence suggests we maintain the present situation.

The victory was welcome and deserved but our inability to break down a resilient opponent once again highlighted what I see as a lack of malleability or reactivity in Conte’s tactical thinking. He rarely seems to have any Plan B, nor appears particularly well prepared to take advantage of an opponent’s weaknesses. Conte’s method is to stick with the 3-5-2, pass the ball as much as possible, left, then right, then left, then right, slow paced build-up. Its all so predictable. And without the muscle, hustle and class of Tevez in the final third, and swash-buckling Vidal forcing mistakes and driving forward at every opportunity we are fairly easily contained.

Still much to learn, but at 44 years of age, Conte is already well on the road to becoming a Juve legend in the dug-out. His third scudetto in three seasons at the club will be a tremendous achievement. But what of Europe??

Conte needs to work on systems which draw such stubborn opposition out of their fortress. Laying siege works most of the time, but as we saw with Copenhagen, our lack of Plan B or C can truly be our downfall. We win by attrition in such circumstances or via a moment of magic as we saw from Pogba last night.

Instead of Padoin, why not bring on Vucinic?? Instead of Vidal, why not send Quagliarella into the fray?? Protecting a 1-0 lead at home to Bologna is understandable at this delicate stage of the campaign, though a step removed from a team confident of their superiority. Substitutions are another area in which as time wears on, I find Conte lacking.

When was the last time we saw him turn a game with a master stroke from the bench?? When was the last time he outfoxed a wily opposing manager through exploiting a weakness in a team we faced??

Its not only the playing staff which needs to improve, collectively, if we are to strive onwards and make moves to return to greatness on the European stage. It is also the management.

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United’s woes…

11 Apr

Any manager who presided over such a terrible season, huge drop in form, many of the very worst performances seen at Old Trafford in the living memory of many fans, both neutrals and die-hard United supporters, deserves to be criticized strongly. It is not solely the abject failure of this term to consider but also the knock-on effects for the future.

A team, even of United’s stature, will now find some difficulty in attracting top talent to the club without any champions league football to offer prospective signings. The allure is further soiled and reduced by the reputation Moyes has forged of failure, and also, by the lengthy gap between the front runners for the title and United of Today.

An over-reliance on RVP makes sense, but what does it say of Moyes ability to get the best out of other world class talent such as Mata and Rooney??? The Spaniard clearly needs time to settle, but the early signs are worrisome, for a player of his top drawer quality should shine wherever he goes. Can Moyes manage the true greats??? He has generally looked a cruel shadow of his Chelsea character.

Fellaini has been a terrible waste of 27m. Yes, he can improve, but under Moyes????

Vidic, Ferdinand and Evra are all departing. Who is ready to step into their shoes???Any hopes of signing Baines will have evaporated if Everton gain champions league qualification, and even without that success, why would he join a team seemingly on the decline when his side are progressing beautifully under Martinez?? With Chelsea and potentially other top clubs interested in Luke Shaw, will Moyes have any hope there??

The situation isn’t completely grim. Their history is rich, the fan-base huge and the brand globally recognized. Players will still want to play with Rooney, RVP and Mata, but the cream of the crop will be seeing United as a back-up option this Summer, with clubs offering champions league football proving more attractive.

It seems odd to all but guarantee a top four finish next season. Chelsea and City will strengthen further, both have considerably stronger squads and stronger managers (especially Chelsea). Liverpool are not a one season wonder. Their team is growing under Rodgers and who would suggest they will not improve further still, attract better talent over the close season and challenge for the title again next term??

Which leaves Man United, at best, challenging for 4th spot. With Arsenal. It will be a revival of the old battles between the former greats, except rather than 1st and 2nd, they will be jousting over 4th and 5th.

It isn’t just great clubs and great opportunities which attract players, it’s also great managers. Man United have only the first on that list.

Israel targeting Palestinian footballers…

13 Mar

Over the weekend two US senators wrote an open letter to FIFA demanding action against Russia, namely the removal of the hosting of the 2018 world cup and also expulsion of the Russian team from the world cup in Brazil soon to commence this year.

In their letter to the Fifa chairman, Sepp Blatter, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Dan Coates of Indiana, both Republicans, cite the exclusion of Yugoslavia from the 1992 European Championship and 1994 World Cup and say: “Since Russia has similarly displayed a brazen disrespect for fundamental principles of Fifa and international law, [we] hope you will agree that it doesn’t deserve the honour of either hosting the World Cup or participating in one.
“We ask that a more deserving World Cup 2018 bid should be re-considered instead.”

(http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/m … -world-cup)

Whilst it remains to be seen how a western supported, military coup of the Ukrainian parliament, legal placing of troops in the autonomous Crimea region (where Russia are allowed 25000 troops) and the invitation from the democratically elected Crimean government openly asking Russia for protection alongside holding a referendum on becoming part of the Russian Federation relates to the bloody troubles in the former Yugoslavia, there are other issues to ponder.

Firstly, by adopting the warped logic of Kirk and Coates, should the US itself not be removed from this year’s world cup? Illegal invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya seem to have flown under the radars of the venerable senators. Unfortunately the same cannot be said to the three countries which have suffered huge death counts engineered by US foreign policy.

The Russians must surely be congratulated on their efficiency, for their alleged ‘invasion’ and ‘occupation’ has a body count presently of 0. Its questionable that a shot has been fired by Russian forces. But lets stick to the football angle…assuming, of course, that the US are exempt from the very laws they see fit to demand others adhere to.

As far as we know, Russia have yet to target Ukrainian footballers. Which would surely – we must assume – be the hook to bring in the involvement of FIFA. The fact that Russia have yet to target anyone is a matter for a different debate. However, there is a country which targets footballers from a foreign country. A country which just happens to be an intimate ally of the US.
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From the stadium to the hospital, Jawhar Nasser Jawhar,19, former palestinian footballer.

Whilst returning home from a training session at the Faisal al-Husseini Stadium on January 31st of this year, two young Palestinian footballers, Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17 approached a checkpoint in the West Bank. They were fired upon many times, mauled by dogs then beaten. Adam was shot once in each foot. Jawhar fared much worse, receiving ten bullets in his feet.

Suffice to say, neither of the wounded will ever set foot on a football pitch again. Other than to limp and maintain a keen eye overhead for Israeli war-planes.

The border patrol police explained the situation as follows-
‘“During operational activity, a group of individuals was seen just seconds before throwing bombs at security forces. When they saw the Border Policemen, the group attempted to run away and tried again to throw bombs at the policemen. The policemen initiated the protocol for opening fire in order to neutralize the threat. The suspects were apprehended, and a bomb was found on them, which has been deactivated.”

Well that clears up all loose ends then!

That is, if you believe that two kids, known for their football, returning from a football stadium, decided on a whim to throw bombs at soldiers on their way home.

When a regime has countless accusations levelled at it, not just by the victims, but by respected bodies on the international stage as well as major players in the international community, revolving around persecution, torture, wrongful imprisonment and land theft of another country, the explanations given for shooting two footballers in the feet, gives rise to suspicion. (When I talk of the ‘international community’ I am not referring to the same ‘international community’ as President Obama, for the hype man for Murder Inc means ‘The US and its allies’, whereas I mean ‘country states of the world’.)

And what of Mahmoud Sarsak?? A member of the Palestinian National Football team who was arrested at a checkpoint whilst en-route to a national football competition in July 2009. Held without trial or charges. Deemed an ‘illegal combatant’. His family, friends, lawyers prohibited from visiting him. After embarking, out of desperation, upon a hunger strike in early 2012 and gathering widespread support for his liberation, he was finally released in July of that year after 3 years of prison.
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Mahmoud Sarsak, his talents on the field couldn’t save him from the IDF.

Whilst in jail, and I cannot help but continue to repeat, with no charges or trial a possibility, Sarsak’s cause was picked up by campaigners in London who staged several protests, as well as Celtic FC’s Green Brigade. In June of 2012, FifPro (which represents professional footballers globally) called for his immediate release. Joining the chorus of demand for justice was none other than Eric Cantona, Freddy Kanoute, Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter. Renowned dissident and linguist, in my opinion one of the most aware and just campaigners on the planet, Noam Chomsky, voiced his own demands for Sarsak’s release the same year.

Amnesty International also got in on the act accusing Israel of ‘inhuman and degrading treatment’.
After his release, the footballer has this to say…
First I have to say that sport carries many values. Sport is about tolerance, about humanity. Sport means love and peace. That is the message. Like all peoples of the world, we in Palestine, we want to play sports, especially football.
Israel is a country of discrimination and apartheid. It does not stop at the destruction of homes and trees, but it also wants to break human beings, including athletes.
I am Palestinian and I have a Palestinian passport just like Omar Abu Rouis and Muhammad Nimr who have also been imprisoned. And there is Zakaria Issa, who was also a footballer and was detained. He died of cancer in prison because of lack of care.
You should know that during the war against Gaza in 2008-2009 all sport facilities were destroyed. Several great athletes from Gaza were killed and the building of the Paralympic committee in Gaza was bombed. Mohammed Al Araby here is a witness.
Not only the Palestinian National Stadium in Gaza was bombed, but also that of the city of Rafah.
I will speak on behalf of all Palestinian athletes who live in the West Bank, in Gaza, in Jerusalem or those inside Israel who also suffer from apartheid. We want to use the opportunity of our visit to France to send a message to Michel Platini, to the president of FIFA Joseph Blatter and their employees, to withdraw the organization Israel from the world Cup under 20 years’

In 2009 three members of the Palestinian team were killed during a bombing campaign which also took out the HQ of the Palestinian Football Authority as well as their national stadium.

Then there was the story of Palestinian Olympic goalkeeper, Omar Abu Rwayyis. Arrested when an IDF vehicle was damaged during a visit to a refugee camp near the West Bank village of Ramallah. 
Israeli government mouthpiece, Haaretz, reported the incident as follows-
‘Thirteen residents of the Amari refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah were arrested recently for alleged involvement in an attempted attack on Israel Defense Forces soldiers two months ago, the Shin Bet security service said Monday.

The suspects include employees of the Palestinian Red Crescent, a member of the Palestinian Olympic soccer team and an officer in the Palestinian General Intelligence Service.
The incident in question occurred on January 20, when shots were fired at IDF forces operating in Ramallah. No one was wounded in the attack, but one IDF vehicle sustained damage.
The suspects named in the attack included Salah Barael, 23, who works as a guard for the Red Crescent and Omar Abu Rwayyis, also 23, who also works for the Red Crescent. According to the Shin Bet, Abu Rwayyis is affiliated with Hamas and is also a goalkeeper on the Palestinian Olympic soccer team.

According to the Shin Bet, the suspects shot at IDF forces using Kalashnikovs, then hid the weapons in an abandoned building. Later, Abu Rwayyis allegedly handed off the guns to another resident of the camp, Ahmed Hattab, who is also employed by the Red Crescent.

After Abu Rwayyis was arrested, Hattab gave the guns to another man, Mansour Abbas, who serves as an officer in the Palestinian General Intelligence Service in Ramallah and is responsible for the guards at the Red Crescent. The Shin Bet also suspects Hattab of dealing in arms.

No evidence was found or reported. I will leave you to make your own minds up about an arrest for shooting at vehicles, in which no weapons were found, but somehow it is known that the guns in question were first hidden, then handed over to friends, then handed over to other friends…all of whom are terrorists. 
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I see kids enjoying themselves with a football, yet how do they look through a snipers sights???

Its wretched enough that Israel are allowed to place their domestic and international teams within European competition. Wretched, not solely due to the obvious geographical issues, but because Israel have a history of crimes against humanity tantamount to genocide. But there I go again, allowing my eagerness to condemn what appears, time and time again, one of the most clear cut cases of what FIFA refers to as 
‘‘discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of ethnic origin, gender, language, religion, politics or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.’”

A score of UN resolutions have been passed against Israel, the majority of which have been vetoed by…the US government. 

Should we be surprised that Murder Inc aka the US political establishment, avoid any mention of their own crimes against humanity, and those of their allies, then have the gall to demand Russia are punished for targeting and killing ZERO people in Ukraine.

Further Reading
http://www.ifamericansknew.org/stat/neff-un.html
http://www.thenation.com/blog/167827/wh … cer-player
http://mondoweiss.net/2013/06/committee … rture.html
http://www.ifamericansknew.org/stat/un.html
http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali … ined-reach

 

Juventus 1 – 0 Fiorentina

9 Mar

Juventus 1-0 Fiorentina

Scrappy. Is probably the best way to describe what I just endured. A game lacking quality on the part of our visitors and energy in our own ranks. Decided by a moment of world class magic by Asamoah…

We were in the ascendancy for most of the first half. Tevez was finding good positions. Lichsteiner, who had a very poor game overall, should have done much better when finding the ball at his feet in the 18 yard box and the goal to aim at. He spooned the chance horridly. There was also a clear cut opening for Pogba, who brought the ball down with his knee, then struck at it wildly, the resulting shot more likely to kill a bird than find the net.

The goal…was a thing of rare beauty. Found by Chiellini on the edge of the 18 yard box, Asamoah had four defenders in close attendance. Working the ball through his quick feet, he made a yard out of nothing and smashed an unstoppable missile of a shot into the far top corner. Absolutely outstanding.

Scoring just before half-time, when we had certainly been the dominant, more attacking side, seemed reasonable. However, after the break, we slumped woefully..

The clock was reaching the 63rd minute before I even saw Vidal. Pogba was tiring fast, making the odd error, but far more effective and involved than his two midfield partners. Our opponents were increasingly all over us, pushing for the equalizer.

A goal was struck off for offside, Gomez was given a free header which thankfully flew wide and before the final whistle came, the visitors hit the bar after a well worked series of headers.

Conte’s substitutions were somewhat bothersome, if not bemusing. Lichsteiner had been in need of removal since the first whistle. It loosely made sense to bring on Caceres. Removing Tevez for Isla, was less reasonable. It moved us to a 4-5-1, set us out to sit deep when a team was attacking us constantly. To make matters even worse, Conte then went on to swap Marchiso for Padoin.

The dying moments summed up the game as a whole when after winning a free-kick in a useful position deep on the left wing, we resorted to time wasting. Which is far removed from the natural instincts and tendencies of true champions, when winning a game 1-0 in their own stadium.

A hard fought, less than satisfying victory.

Player Ratings

Buffon-

Mainly a spectator for the first half but had to be alert constantly in the second period. Showed his class and value to the club when racing out to act as a libero, chesting the ball down outside his area then clearing to safety. Solid. 7/10.

Chiellini-

Wonderful to have him back. A little rusty, but made several key interceptions, won his aerial battles. Just needs Bonucci back in place of the still fragile at times Ogbonna. 6/10.

Barzagli-

Still working his way back to match sharpness after a few weeks off the pitch injured. Another slip, but his blushes were saved by Buffon. I’m happy he is back, but Andrea needs to regain his composure. 6/10.

Ogbonna-

We missed Bonucci’s ability to put his foot on the ball and pick out a pass. Angelo was hesitant often when in possession, opting to play the most simple safe pass rather than attempting to pick someone out further up the field. Still finding his feet in the team. 6/10.

Lichsteiner-

A wretched showing from our Swiss dynamo. Whined whenever he lost the ball, missed a brilliant chance to at least test the keeper from close range and simply never looked comfortable. Should have been subbed off sooner, for Isla, if not shot. 4/10.

Asamoah-

A contender for goal of the season…for goal of any season. Such was the quality of his wonder strike which won us the game. He doesn’t score many but when he does, they are invariably screamers. Both defensively and offensively he was in fine fettle. 9/10.

Vidal-

One of his least effective performances in a Juve shirt this season. Seemed fatigued and lethargic. Rarely involved in the play. 5/10.

Marchisio –

Looked useful in the first half, helping to keep the ball moving, but rarely attempted the killer pass that Pirlo looks for every-time the ball finds his feet. Had a dismal time after the break. A ghost on the field, muscled out of tackles and headers like an infant. If we are to stick with this formation we need a natural regista to challenge/ back up Pirlo. 5/10.

Pogba-

Still lacking energy but his age and youthful exuberance propel him towards the action whenever possible. Was more consistently involved than his fellow central midfielders. Made a few mistakes, but always trying to make something positive happen. And in the period late on, when we were abysmal in all areas, I was roaring for someone to win the ball in defence, and take it out at their feet rather than hoove it vaguely to a white shirt; the only player capable of this was Paul. Central midfielders must be as involved as possible, and on this score, Pogba had a solid game. Needs a break and some support from more than solely Asamoah. 6/10.

Tevez-

Well marshalled. Wriggled into a few good opportunities but ultimately unlucky in all he attempted. 6/10.

Llorente-

Won his lion share of headers, but was never truly threatening. A wasted opportunity to cement his starting place. Such a shame we didn’t have Osvaldo on the bench…5/10.

The positives were few.

Other than Asamoah’s galactic class goal all I was pleased with was the resoluteness of the defence in the first 45 minutes. Chiellini is 10 times the player Caceres will ever be, when it comes to the CB position. The trio was more secure (until the break) than I have seen them for several games. I suspect our form in general will begin to rise in potency once the starting trio are reunited, fit and match sharp. They were very busy in the second half, in no small part courtesy of the invisibility impression of Marchisio, anaemic output of Vidal and constant errors of Lichsteiner.

I was hoping that our strike force would be ultra fresh, given their lack of international duty. Carlos was spritely and Llorente’s game is largely built on connecting with forward running midfielders, which were simply absent too often in the channels he occupies.

Yet again we have played poorly and won a game exclusively due to individual brilliance rather than a solid team effort. We have yet to escape the slump which began in Chievo.

Does Co-Ownership work???

9 Mar

Domenico Berardi. Co-Owned to Glory or Doom???

It was not so long ago that many were talking of Berardi as the new superstar of Italian football. When he was playing brilliantly, the stake we had in him felt great (he was one of ours!) and a very sound investment. It still does for me…Sassuolo is not solely a stage for new stars to use to debut in the top flight. Their core aim as a club is survival. When a side is struggling, often the first changes made are tactical. If these don’t work after yet more misery, the next stage is to change the coach. Malesani has been brought in to steady the ship, to grind out some results and most importantly to stop the rot before it sets into the foundations of their Serie A campaign and sends them back to Serie B, which would be disastrous financially.

When buying youngsters, the top clubs have two choices…

  1. Loan or co-own the player to a team where it is hoped he will gain decent coaching as well as be given plenty of first team experience which is probably not available at the parent club.
  2. Keep him at the parent club, hope that the high class of coaching, facilities and also through rubbing shoulders with established stars, will all lead to solid development of the player.

Let’s continue with Berardi as the focus…I suspect some would have preferred for us to sign him and bring him into our first team squad?? How many games would he have played, bearing in mind the competition for one of the two positions we have where Berardi could deployed in attack??(we are not going to alter our formation for a star of Serie B).

I cannot imagine he would dislodge Tevez in any situation when both were fit. Nor Llorente for that matter, for Conte clearly likes the spaniard’s work rate and wonderful ability to bring others into play in the final third. Then there are Mirko, Seba and Fabio to consider. And now Osvaldo. Its early days, but I do consider Osvaldo to be an established player at a high level, and when added to our first choice, it would mean, in present conditions, Berardi would be at best 3rd choice. Perhaps its fair to say that he could challenge Giovinco for the vice tevez role, but so would Mirko when fit.

I like the co-ownership routine. It allows us to invest in players, at a risk…a risk which is shared by the other club involved in the registration. Certainly preferable to a loan given the other club has a financial investment in the development of the player.

Given the purchasing power and allure to youngsters of the top clubs, like ourselves, it is also good business sense for smaller clubs to create solid relationships with us. For example…

A starlet appears in Lega Pro. Big clubs come sniffing around. Little Lanciano want the player, but they know in a bidding war they have no chance, they hear that Juve are interested. Have a little chat with Beppe, lets see what we can do.

The smaller clubs need money. Selling off half of one of their starlets to Juve, means they get cash in hand, continue to develop him in the hope of increasing the value of the player even more, and keep him in their squad winning them games.

Daniele Rugani – Future Captain of Juve???

A player rarely talked off, whom we co-own, is Daniele Rugani; a player I strongly feel is destined for greatness, for Juve and Italy…He is developing brilliantly. Scored for the Italy U21s last week in Ireland. First choice centre-back for his club after his strong showing in our primavera the previous term. Definitely one for the future. Will we pay more for him when we sign him outright than we paid initially for his 50%??? Of course we will…but we won’t be getting the same player we originally signed. We will be getting a better, matured, developed player. A former regular for the Italy U20s and now at 19, making headway into the first XI of the Italy U21 side. Is it in Empoli’s interest to attempt to hold us to ransom?? Not in the slightest, for if they can earn a few million for developing a player, it makes sense for them to maintain happy ties with the top tier clubs.

It seems like another shrewd piece of business on our part. Now a player like Rugani, just 19, how many games would he get at Juve?? with our present squad, I would say ZERO. Especially given we paid 13m for another CB last Summer who rarely features…A Uruguyan international only gets playing time when one of three starting Cbs are injured or suspended. Rugani would logically be behind Ogbonna and Caceres. What good would it do him, at this age, to train with the first team squad, but never play???

The differences between a loan and co-own are obvious – both clubs have the same interest in raising the value of the player through developing him. With a normal loan, there is far less interest in developing the player for the loan club.

Giorgio Chiellini…Co-owned into the Juve and Italy first XI

In terms of la nazionale…the following players have been involved in co-ownerships at some stage of their career-

Balotelli, Osvaldo, Giovinco, Cerci, Immobile, Chiellini, Barzagli, Bonucci, Maggio, Criscito, Abate, Astori, Montolivo, Marchisio, Giaccherini, Gilardino, Destro.

Which suggests that the co-ownership scheme has certainly done those players no harm at all. You could even say that it works well and helps to produce international class players for Italy. On the other hand, you could say that its a rite of passage more than a potent tool of development.

(In some cases, the co-ownership routine is employed to spread payments over time. Asamoah and Isla for example. As well as to not just raise the value, but put in the ship window a player not wanted by the parent club or who has failed and needs a new start to kick-start his career e.g. Almiron)

Clearly its a system entrenched in the culture of italian football. Also operating in some South American countries. For me its a better option than a simple loan, and considerably more football focused than the involvement of third party ownership which is rife in Brazil and nearby regions of latin america.

I’d rather be dealing with Empoli than Kia Joorabchian. For reasons, this article is already too verbose to delve into.

Ideally, Italy would adopt a system similar to the German model. I am aware that the spaniards adopt a comparable system. The bundesliga sides have a second team made up (predominantly) of U23 players which plays in the lower leagues. These teams are not allowed to move higher than 3 Liga (the third tier of German football) and the professional side cannot play in the same league as its ‘amateur U23 team’. The second clubs have ‘II’ added to their club title.

If Frankfurt II rose to 3 Liga and Frankfurt were relegated to 3 Liga, the ‘amateur’ side, Frankfurt II would not make it to 3 Liga.

A quick peek at Bayern’s ‘amateur’ team, Bayern II, unsurprisingly finds them sitting pretty at the top of Regionaliga Bayern (the regional league which includes Munich). In that league, presently, 6 of the top 8 sides are ‘amateur’ sides.

I have the interest, not the time, to delve more deeply to research how this affects promotion and possibly relegation issues. For what happens if Bayern II reach 3 Liga and win the championship?? Is the second team in the league awarded the title???

Its not perfect, but its preferable to a reserve league, when focusing on the development of youth players.

Considering the steady progression of classy youngsters coming through the german ranks, its a system which I would hope, the FIGC are considering implementing. But how would such a thing be introduced??? Expansion of the lower leagues would be the only fair method.

Which brings us back to this recent pondering of the co-ownership routine. The FIGC must have as its prime focus the development of italian football as a whole. Until such a change, to the german system for example, is seriously considered, I feel that the co-ownership routine is the best we have available in Italy in relation to developing italian youngsters.

Marzouk – Alongside Donis and Garcia, one of our greatest prospects at primavera level. Made his debut for the French U18s last week.

As for our in-house youth sector, I have been consistently impressed with the procurement policy over the last few years. The majority of our primavera squad are youth internationals. See here

https://juventusprimaveraandyouth.wordpress.com/2013/12/14/international-youth-players-in-our-ranks/

A list which has improved even further since I wrote that brief report.

What more can Beppe and Paratici be expected to do other than bring to the club the brightest prospects of international youth football???

Clearly the management structure of our primavera is wrong. The Zanchetta/Grosso combination has been a risk which was odd to begin with and has not at all paid off. We lost again yesterday, this time at home to parma, following our defeat to Genoa. They will be replaced in the Summer. Heading a step younger, to the U17s and we are owning the league, 10 points clear of second spot in the league.

I cannot ask more of the club than to bring in players judged the strongest by their international coaches.

We have plenty of very talented youngsters, both in the primavera and lower down the age groups. Our only problem there presently is Zanchetta and Grosso.

Essentially, we are expanding our scouting network, appear to do very well in recruiting promising youngsters globally and our investments in the player between youth and senior levels are encouraging.

Juventus v Fiorentina SERIE A

9 Mar

Our form has been below par since the match in Verona. No surprise given we lost both Barzagli and Chiellini…Caceres and Ogbonna have been okay, the results have kept coming, but we have been massively more porous with Buffon busier than for many moons. The game against Milan last week was decided by Buffon and Tevez. Defensively we were very poor and often over-worked, in midfield we lost the ball too often. I felt sorry for Clarence and his troops! Not too sorry…especially when Carlitos scored that world class strike from range. Then I felt more pride than anything else.

I am still nowhere near convinced of Caceres as one of 3 CBs. Positionally he seems haphazard. On the flank, I have often found him brilliant, but centrally he seems less comfortable, or we seem less comfortable. Barzagli was clearly lacking match sharpness last weekend, hopefully he will be better adjusted for this match.

As for our form, I could go back perhaps to the coppa defeat to Roma as a turning point for the worse. We had momentum prior to that game. The loss, albeit with a second string squad, seemed to derail our momentum. Our draw in Rome was loosely commendable, victory over Inter was the one real highlight, other than which, whilst we have been getting the results, we have not recaptured the form prior to the coppa loss. The momentum has not been recovered. I could point to the second europa tie in Turkey, but Trabzonspor were shocking, they made Giovinco seem like Messi…which NEVER happens in Serie A.

Still, the truly great teams win regularly without hitting top gear. With the defence slowly coming back together, Claudio easing nicely into the regista role in Pirlo’s absence, Vidal back in the line-up and Tevez in exquisite form, there are many reasons to be cheerful and my hope is that our slump has been negotiated and its time to put our foot back on the throttle, pick up speed for the run-in towards the scudetto and hopefully our first european trophy under Conte.

Our opponents, like us, have not been playing particularly well of late, the difference there is that they don’t win when they don’t perform. We do. One win in their last five, 3 losses…they appear, at least on paper, lambs to the slaughter.

Often, when a team has crunched us, Conte goes all out to destroy them the next time we meet. I trust this will be the case this evening…

Forza Juve

Genoa 3-2 Juventus PRIMAVERA

3 Mar

Scorers – Marzouk and Roussos

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huctIsuFfpA

Mandela. Freedom Fighter, Terrorist or something in between???

10 Dec

ImageCommies Unite

With the world awash with glowing eulogies, palpably breathing one huge global sigh of grief in response to the passing of Nelson Mandela, I have found myself barely affected, other than with a shaking of the head as I read comment after comment written of the man by people who never before seemed a supporter or student of his life. Hijackers of historical Greats, buying into the fashionable cause celebre…constantly prepared to pounce upon any apparent to the majority mark of anti-establishment revolutionary stance, a badge of cool, and when questioned, they quickly revert to listing other mainstream media despots like…Saddam, Bashar, Gaddaffi or Bin Laden. There is little to be gained through attempting constructive debate with such people. For they seek to do no more than attach themselves to the latest hero, and defend them with platitudes and plain nonsense. I am getting sidetracked already, so, without further ado, let us delve into the Real Life and Times of the recently departed SuperHero…

 Mandela was a man who came to represent (and rightly so) the struggle against and liberation of his people from, the brutal south african apartheid regime. He was hugely involved in a period of major transition from vicious white rule to…a welcome chance for the blacks to govern…and finally towards what we find in modern South Africa; Zuma’s ugly creation of the black elite class, different skin but essentially comparable plunderers of the country’s wealth. And a few days ago, he bequeathed his country to the fruits of his life-long fight for revolution.

 The man himself never struck me as a self appointed hero, or even anywhere near comfortable in the role. He exposed and owned his flaws as much as he campaigned tirelessly for an end to the regime and eradication of poverty. My hesitancy if not defiance towards the universal acclaim which places him as a modern day saint, is rooted not in any way against the man himself, but instead based upon the apparently lesser known facts of his brilliant life of struggle against specific tyranny. I use the word ‘specific’ for his scope for anti-tyranny was not spread evenly across the board, on a global scale…for example, his kinship and massive support received from President Suharto of Indonesia. A man who was likely responsible for the mass slaughter of a couple of million indonesians. The same man who pumped tens of millions of $$$ into Mandela’s fight for release, anti-apartheid stance and subsequent presidency, and received in return a 21 gun salute when he visited his pal Nelson (once out of jail and ruling the land), and the highest honour the south african government can give…the Order of Good Hope. But Hope for Who??? None of the millions slaughtered on Suharto’s twisted orders…

ImageSuharto…Mass Murderer awarded the Order of Good Hope, by Saint Mandela 

Mandela’s position as commander of the military wing of the ANC was what put him behind bars. Public bombings and other killings were committed by ANC members under his command. Women and children were amongst those killed. The ANC’s guerilla force, known as uMkhonto we Sizwe—MK, or “Spear of the Nation”—was founded in 1961 by Mandela and his advisor, the Lithuanian-born communist Jew, Joe Slovo, born Yossel Mashel Slovo, who was officially named secretary general of the South African Communist Party in 1986. (I will proceed to avoid the immensely suggestive evidence of connections between Mandela, Slovo and the Communist sadists stretching as far as Chairman Mao, for whilst it is overwhelming in terms of probability, it is a complicated snake pit of hisses, fangs and testimony, and I prefer to reveal plain FACTS) 

And what of his wife, Winnie Mandela??? Convicted of Kidnapping and an Accessory to Assault, which led to the death of a 14 year old boy at the hands of her bodyguards. A 14 year old ANC activist, who happened to be suspected of informing to the police….Even on appeal she remained convicted (by the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission), yet has never served a day in jail. Just a fine sufficed. One of her most famous quotes is…

With our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country,” a reference to the necklacing execution method which has been said to have savaged several thousand (‘Necklacing’ involves car tyres filled with petrol wrapped around necks). How many deaths of which Winnie sanctioned is anyone’s guess. Sweet ol’ Winnie still to this day sits proudly and sinisterly on the ANC’s Executive Committee

 Leading the country since Thebo Mbeki stepped down as President is none other than Jacob Zuma. Widely suspected of mass corruption and tried (but not convicted) of raping his deceased friend’s daughter. The woman was a famous HIV activist, who was carrying the disease. Outside the court-room, Zuma joined thousands of his supporters to sing their classic anthem –

Lethu Mshini Wami which translates to Bring me my Machine Gun!…encouraging blacks to gun down the white farmer descendants of the Boers with machine guns. A song he has regularly enjoyed delivering to the rabid crowds of his vast army of followers. Watching his aide by his side on any number of the videos available, mimicking the action of spraying bullets from an Uzi…certainly gives a strong impression of the ruling political class.>>>>>>

 When asked by the Judge if he took any precautions to avoid becoming infected with the AIDS virus, he stated that he took a shower after sex. Not exactly useful words from the president of a country with the highest HIV infection rate in the world…Perhaps equally worrying was Zuma’s assertion that in Zulu culture, to leave a sexually aroused woman (she was wearing a knee high skirt) and frustrated could well lead to a charge of rape! Such a rancid thread of tribal lunacy was stitched from the start to the end of the botched trial which exonerated both an obvious fiend of the lowest order and friend of Mandela.

 Whilst it is wrong to assert that Zuma was a natural, well groomed successor to Mandela, it is right to mention that he had his support. Which given his history, was huge and telling. Mandela’s appearance with Zuma at a 2009 rally surely produced a major influence and turning point in the ANC leader’s battle against former President Mbeki’s COPE party. Zuma won.

 It is also rather odd, to find the US government especially, singing the man’s praises given Mandela’s staunch and open opposition to American Imperialism and the position of their Knesset masters…Whilst Obama compares him to George Washington, his position appears, as always, with a very slight scratching beneath the shit-stain surface of the mainstream media, somewhat out of touch with reality. By this late stage in the game, anyone who believes a word Obama says is surely either drunk, hopelessly high, dangerously ill-educated or simply brain-dead. Mandela’s stance towards the US can be gathered from the following quotes…Which most likely will not make it to the front page of the New York Times, or Ten News, or the BBC. For obvious reasons.

If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care for human beings,”

If you look at those matters, you will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace.”

Israel should withdraw from all the areas which it won from the Arabs in 1967, and in particular Israel should withdraw completely from the Golan Heights, from south Lebanon and from the West Bank,

The UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

 

Yet what more could we expect from a government whose former leader famously told the world in late 2007…“Now, where’s Mandela?” Well, Mandela’s dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas.'(Bush)

 How such a man could be elected in the first place, then re-elected…says a huge amount to the world regarding not just the US government but also the US people. That is another story entirely. For now, I just want to maintain this haphazard focus upon Mr Mandela.

 It seems best to wind this up by looking at the present state of play in the land which our hero liberated. Having already mentioned Zuma, it will come as little surprise to learn that the situation under his control is far from ideal.

 The violent crime rates are chilling. The HIV infection rate remains, staggeringly, the world’s worst. A new elite has been born from the rule of the ANC and it appears like nothing more revolutionary than a change in skin colour. For it is now a ruling, narrow class of blacks, sustained and prospering courtesy of the spastic-fanatical support of Zuma’s tribe. Poverty is widespread. What was once a prosperous nation (for a ruling class of dutch descended Boer whites) is fast becoming a brutally crime ridden prosperous place to do business for a ruling class of well-connected blacks, and a daily horror-show for everyone else, both black and white alike.

 I have avoided touching firmly or even tentatively upon the vast evidence of Mandela’s connections, likely involvement, with the South African Communist Party. It is easily locatable, and adds much weight to the story. To fight powerful enemies, you need powerful friends. The SACP, Suharto…even my old pal Gaddaffi. All of whom were more than strongly linked, they were obvious supporters and backers of the The Struggle.

 What can we deduce from this distance, having never lived in, visited or experienced any connection by blood to the matter in hand?? Surely the above hotchpotch of information is food for thought, and suggests if not demands a re-thinking of the hero worship to which so many folks seem susceptible.

 My own impression, from such a distance, is that Nelson was a righteous man whose focus in life could be taken out of context and made to appear saintly, yet in reality, everything he did was unavoidably driven by his hatred of the apartheid menace which he chose as his cause. Such rancour dominated and blinkered him. I liked the man. I respected his unwavering drive to fight his enemies, some of which were my enemies, for they were the enemies of all that is right and decent. Still, I cannot shake off sensations of Gus from Breaking Bad, and I wonder, had he been born elsewhere, would such a man, finding different enemies, be seen here and now as a Hero worthy of global adulation??

 I see and feel Mandela as a wily warrior. My respect for him is due to not only his campaign of resistance, but equally, if not more so, his honesty. Born into a ferocious struggle, he grew to fight hard, nasty and powerfully, whilst behind the iron bars and then once thrust into the position of King of his land. History will not delineate his life accurately for much of what I have learned and shared above will remain elusive and somewhat at odds with the widely accepted ideal of Greatest Freedom Fighter Of Our Time. What matters most to me, and what stands Nelson apart from his contemporaries, is that it was never the man himself who made any effort to cultivate such hero worship. And now, ironically and horribly and typically, it is one of the greatest enemies to peace in our times, Barack Obama, whose words about Mandela, will reach the masses with most fraudulent resonance…

 Yet again to his credit, Mandela did not dispute the charges against him. Not proudly, but honestly, he accepted the sentencing. The worst aspect of this whole present circus show is that governments he despised, backed by organizations very clearly culpable of horrendous crimes around the world, are the major mouthpieces now singing the Great Man’s praises…

 It is easy to see things in black and white, Good versus Evil. Easier still to adopt the assumption that anyone who fights against something clearly oppressive, racist and evil must surely be saintly, pure and good. The truth of the matter however, is often and certainly in this case, something very different indeed. 

ImageThe present and future face of South Africa…Mandela buddy, Jacob ‘bring me my machine gun and let us gun down the whites’ Zuma

 

 

 

11/12/2012 Juventus Co-owned/ Loans UPDATE

5 Mar

Sassuolo continued to cement their position as top dogs of war and w*hore in Serie B, with a comprehensive 2-0 victory over Modena. Its smiles all round again for young Juve striker Richmond Boakye who netted his 7th goal of the season (from 14 matches). A few of his strikes this term can be found here- http://www.ghanamma.com/2012/12/vide…-for-sassuolo/). His countryman, dynamo midfielder Chibsah, failed to play a part in the victory, though has been a regular for the league leaders throughout this season (13 games, 1 goal).


A buoy mixing it fine and dandy with the men…

Dutch flair merchant Ouasim Buoy has won back his starting spot at Brescia, and put in a good shift in Brescia’s 2-2 home drew with Reggina. Its great to see him back in the first XI after returning from injury in late November. His Juve cohort at Brescia, Fausto Rossi fared somewhat worse, finding himself nursing a gouged eye with just ten minutes on the clock, after a drunk gypsy broke through the barriers and aimed a nail at his snout, forcing him to head for the emergency ward!. Both players have managed 12 games thus far during their loans, and as with the Africans mentioned above, they deserve praise, for playing prominent roles in teams fighting for promotion. Brescia remain 5th in the table.

Pro Vercelli continue to suffer greatly, I would like to think mainly due to the absence of still recovering from injury Gabriel Appelt, suspended Uncle Albert Masi and out of form Elio De Silvestro. Their 3-0 mauling at the hands of bottom of the league Grossetto would have been terrible for morale and perhaps rotten food for thought for the chariman, who must be wondering how long to persevere with the hapless Giancarlo Camolese. They were always likely to struggle after jumping up a league, but at this rate they could be dead and buried before Christmas. The return of Arch Angel Gabriel can not arrive too quickly…

The latest in a short line of potential Buffon heirs, Nicola Leali, made his 15th appearance of the season between the sticks as his loan club Virtus Lanciano fought hard to achieve a creditable 0-0 away draw with Crotone. It will surprise nobody, despite his royal lineage, to learn that French defender Prince Gouano remains stuck on 1 game played this season, yet again failing to even make the bench…shame on him. Surely something must be done when the window re-opens, or are we to let him rot into nothingness, only to achieve a place in the Juve senior ranks a la vierchowod, aged 46…takes a while longer for some players to mature.

Over at Cesena, Empoli continued their siege on the top 6 by demolishing their opponents 1-3, with regrettably little to no help from any of our youngsters. Boniperti, still to set foot onto the field for a competitive fixture this season, was nowhere to be seen, and Spinazzola managed solely a handful of minutes in stoppage time.

More positive news drifted out of Vicenza, where both attacking midfield M. Giandonato and always improving goalkeeper C. Pinsoglio played from start to finish in the 3-3 draw with Livorno. With the latter maintaining his ever present first team selection for the season…


Frederick Sorensen – The young dane who grew up idolizing Freddy Kruger is now finding consistency in Serie A, swapping his blades fingers for quick feet at Bologna.

Our Danish berserker Freddy ‘kruger’ Sorensen showed his value with a calm performance in Bologna’s 0-0 draw with Lazio. Christian Pasquato made a cameo towards the end of the game, with Gabbadini crying off injured before the first XI was announced. Ciro Immobile was entered the fray after an hour, but was unable to stem the flow of woe his Genoa side were receiving from Pescara, resulting in a 2-0 loss.

Over the last few weeks, the primavera have been storming their way to the top of their domestic league…beginning with a 2-0 home victory over Parma-
Laurentiu Branescu – Jacob Laursen, Hördur Björgvin Magnússon, Filippo Penna, Daniele Rugani – Jakub Hromada, Elvis Kabashi, Giuseppe Ruggiero, Vykintas Slivka – Stefano Beltrame, Léo 
Goals- Bonatini 45, Beltrame 71

Followed up with a 1-2 away win over Livorno-
Laurentiu Branescu – Pol García, Hördur Björgvin Magnússon, Daniele Rugani – Elvis Kabashi, Federico Mattiello, Giuseppe Ruggiero, Andrea Schiavone, Vykintas Slivka – Stefano Beltrame, Stefano Padovan 
Goals- Kabashi 6, Padovan 73

Finishing with a 1-0 triumph over Sampdoria-
Laurentiu Branescu – Pol García, Hördur Björgvin Magnússon, Daniele Rugani – Matteo Gerbaudo, Federico Mattiello, Giuseppe Ruggiero, Andrea Schiavone, Vykintas Slivka – Stefano Beltrame, Léo 
Goals- Beltrame

We now sit 1st in the league…Played 13, 29 points, GD +8.
Top scorers in our Juve crèche- 
Padovan 7 (10 games)
Beltrame 5 (10 games)
Bonatini 2 (8 games)

(in response to a question regarding the highly regarded Leo Bonatini…He has a tricky task to dislodge Padovan and Beltrame as the main strikers in Baroni’s team, but has shown consistent quality in the minutes he has managed. Two goals from seven starts in the league…2 goals from 3 substitute appearances in the NEXTGEN series. Perhaps by the time the Viareggio tournament appears on the horizon, he will be firing on all cyclinders, but even now, he is fast becoming a delightful luxury to have on the bench to bring on and dance the samba before shotting his pistols in the air Asprilla style)

November/ December 2012 Juventus Loans and Primavera UPDATE

5 Mar


Richmond Boakye strikes again…Future Juve star in the making and a snip at 4m for one leg???

Empoli’s exciting 3-2 home success over Grosseto was marred only by the omission, even from the bench, of Juve youngsters Boniperti and Spinazzola. The latter having not played for several weeks now, the former still awaiting his debut.

The story over at Brescia, who drew 1-1 with league leaders Sassuolo, is much more heartening to read…Whilst Fausto Rossi missed out completely, dutch wizard Ouasim Buoy played almost the whole second half for the home side, continuing his fight to regain a first team place, and the performance of his opponents on the day included a solid showing for the full 90 from ghanian midfielder raman chibsah, with his countryman Richmond ‘bobo’ Boakye thumping in his fourth goal of the season during his near to 80 minutes on pitch. The pair are surely one of the main positives thus far this season, both playing regularly in the starting XI for a team deservedly leading the league…

Nicola Leali. Enduring a tough time between the sticks, yet managing to find obvious joy in offensive salutes….

What are we to make of the continued horror-show failing miserably to pass itself off as a professional football club named, some would say ridiculously, Virtus Lanciano??? Poor Nicola Leali is certainly receiving a large amount of shot stopping practice, as the team around him show as much fight as a frenchman! With another heavy defeat at the weekend (0-3 home reverse to the beastly Bari) its probably best to conclude that the young goalkeeper is not the main culprit, for if he was, why the hell would he keep starting??? A second minor positive, alongside Leali making his 11th appearance of the season, was the astonishing re-emergence of the regal one, gallic defender of the realm Prince Gouano, who not only made the bench, but also achieved his first 70 minutes of competitive action. Shamefully, as a defensive player, as with Leali, he must shoulder some of the blame for the shambles which ensued. Lets give the lad time to accustom himself once again to the light…However, a rancid debut for the youngster.

Continuing to fly the Juve youth flag high and proud at Vicenza, goalkeeper Pinsoglio and attacking midfielder Giandonato both played the whole match in the 2-1 home mauling of Novara. 

Our promising young defender, likened to Nesta by some, and to Freddy Kruger by others, (Uncle) Albert Masi made his 11th appearance of the season in Pro Vercelli’s unforgivable 0-2 loss to the formidable Crotone. Star midfielder, brazilian Gabriel Appelt missed this one, as he will likely miss most if not all games for the next 6 – 8 weeks after suffering a fractured fibula in last weekend’s loss to Modena. Surgery wasn’t required, and given how well he was playing up until then, and the vast potential he showed in brazil before arriving in Turin, lets all wish him a speedy and total recovery…’twas encouraging to see De Silvestro back in action, entering the fray for the home side to battle the last 20 minutes. 
Stepping up a level in quality of competition, Manolo Gabbadini scored the second goal from the penalty spot in Bologna’s impressive 3-0 destruction of a poor Palermo side, with Freddy ‘the iceman’ Sorensen playing the whole game and seemingly back in regular contention after a lengthy period out of the first team. Christian Pasquato was not even named amongst the subs, and is surely set to be found a new home come January…
Losing the Derby di Genova, 3-1 to former Juve great Ciro Ferrara’s struggling Sampdoria side, Ciro Immobile can take pride from scoring Genoa’s consolation goal as the striker started and finished the match yet again on the defeated side.

Which leaves us the primavera, who have finally found something close to top gear, climbing up to 2nd in the league over the last fortnight, now placed 8 points behind runaway leaders Fiorentina, albeit with a game in hand… the First game of this period was the 0-1 victory over Siena, the winner scored by none other than Simone Pepe.
Team v Siena>
Laurentiu Branescu – Pol García, Jacob Laursen(Mattiello 46’), Filippo Penna, Daniele Rugani – Elvis Kabashi, Simone Pepe¹, Andrea Schiavone, Vykintas Slivka – Zoran Josipovic¹, Léo(Padovan 58’)
GOALS- Pepe ’84 (PEN)

Followed up with a 2-0 victory at home over Novara.
Team v Novara>
Laurentiu Branescu – Pol García, Hördur Björgvin Magnússon, Daniele Rugani – Elvis Kabashi, Federico Mattiello, Giuseppe Ruggiero, Andrea Schiavone, Vykintas Slivka – Stefano Beltrame(Laursen 69’), Stefano Padovan
GOALS- 
Beltrame 11’
Padovan 41’

With several key players returning strongly from injury and suspension, the form of the primavera has drastically improved. As it must continue to do so, if we are to continue to chase Fiorentina in the league, and also progress in the NextGen tournament…in which presently we are sitting pretty in second spot of Group 2, holding a game in hand over Man City in 3rd who lie 3 points as well as position in the table behind us. In 1st currently are PSG, like us having played just 4 games, but a point ahead of us. Our final two games are both away, firstly to bottom of the table on a paltry two points Fenerbahce on the 5/12, and then finally locking horns with PSG on 19/12.