Grosso’s debut as Primavera coach…Carpi 0-3 Juventus

17 Mar

After a poor run of form which saw head coach of the primavera, Zanchetta, deposed and ushered into areas of our youth sector involving less responsibility, former world cup winner and despised Juve outcast, Fabio Grosso stepped up from Assistant to Allenatore and made his debut away to Carpi…

One goal from Gerbaudo and a double from Soumah was more than enough to achieve a 0-3 victory. 

The result keeps us in third spot of the table, 2 points off second, with 6 games left to play before the knock-out phase.

(more details to follow)

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Marzouk defects!

13 Mar

Marzouk, celebrating a goal for Morocco.

Juventus youngster, Younes Marzouk, made his debut last week for the French U18 squad, in a 1-3 rout of Germany. A stunning result, but what is more worthy of the eyebrows raising is the fact that only last Summer, Marzouk was the star of the Moroccan U17 side which did ever so well at the U17 world cup, when his (then) national side achieved a respectable 4th spot finish, with the young striker scoring 3 in the process.

Clearly he has decided to alter his allegiance. From his North African heritage, which served as a platform for his vibrant talents, to the country of his birth and upbringing, France.

On one hand, this can be seen as great news for Juventus, for the French national sides are clearly above the Moroccans; they have far greater exposure and a considerably higher ranking.

Yet…it bothers me somewhat, to find any player, young or old, changing his allegiance. Especially after playing a starring role in a country’s last international tournament.

Still, with a lad of barely 18 years of age, I can point my finger of contempt at his agent. For his job is to make money for his client and to engineer the best opportunities available to them both.

In absence of the details, such as…was Marzouk approached by the French FA???…its tricky to offer judgement, and also, why should any judgement be offered. Certainly, its great for the club for one of our youngsters to have ‘progressed’ to a stronger national side. Perhaps guarantees were given in terms of his selection??

Essentially, I find the situation at best…odd. But I wish him well, hope he continues scoring for our primavera and forges a regular starting place in the french U18s.

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

 

The end of the road for Zanchetta…

13 Mar

Happier times for Zanchetta…

Earlier this week, several days after our primavera suffered yet another loss, (a 1-2 home defeat to Parma with Beunacasa grabbing our consolation goal), Andrea Zanchetta was relieved of his duties as first team coach.

This has been coming, due to a season of abject failure on all fronts. With our third defeat in our last five games in the league, disappointing exits in the UEFA Youth Lague at the group stage and coppa italia in the semis, followed by falling at the first hurdle in the viareggio cup, the writing was on the wall for the former Cremonese Youth Coach. Whilst we won the primavera supercup early on in the season, its often seen as not much more than a pre-season friendly, and in every other measure we have not reached our targets.

A season wasted, with tactics often seemingly completely absent from our performances, and several key players halted in their development. I was one of the majority who assumed we would replace Zanchetta in the Summer, but Juve have taken the unprecedented step of dispensing with his services (albeit to a position of less responsibility in the youth sector) mid season.

Whilst Fabio Grosso has been put in charge for the remainder of the season, the move seems more a stop-gap measure than a reward for what Grosso has accomplished thus far. For his debut in the coaching realm presently centres solely upon his role as assistant manager this term to Zanchetta.

It will be interesting to see if there is a change in form and with only the league to play for, with the team sitting in 4th with 7 games left to play, stopping the rot and producing a few convincing victories is the least we will hope to see if the new boss has any chance of remaining in the role after the summer break.

 

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

Primavera Updates…

28 Feb

The day before our senior squad took on city neighbours Torino in the Derby di Mole, our youngsters lined up in the same fixture as a dress rehearsal of sorts. Unfortunately, our inconsistent form was set to continue…

juvetorino

JUVENTUS (4-3-3): Vannucchi; Tavanti, Penna, Romagna, Mattiello; Kabashi, Cevallos (Buenacasa 12′ st), Gerbaudo; Donis, Bnou-Marzouk, Ceria (Otin Lafuente 27′ st).
SUBS: Citti, Rizzo, Sakor, Roussos, Slivka, Pellizzari.
MANAGER: Andrea Zanchetta.

TORINO (4-3-3): Gilardi; Mazzariol, Benedini, Ientile,  Barreca; Comentale, Parodi (Coccolo 40′ st), Graziano; Aramu ( Barale 47′ st), Gyasi, Colombi (Rosso 30′ st).
SUBS: Vimercati, Fissore, Pautassi, Capello, Mor, Rosso, Barale, Pardini, Coccolo, Morra, Capocelli, Migliore.
MANAGER: Moreno Longo.

REF: Giovani della sezione di Grosseto.
Scorers: 42′ Graziano.
YELLOW: Tavanti, Mazzariol, Ceria, Barreca, Kabashi.

JT

Juve took the game to Torino, but failed to convert any of the numerous chances in the early stages of the match. Ceria smashed one over the bar after been put through one on one with Gilardi, the winger soon after setting up Marzouk who snatched at the shot putting it well wide of the post.

There was only one team in it, and a goal seemed certain when Marzouk again found himself in a great position, this time with only Gilardi to beat, who saved the strike.  After the half hour mark, Torino began to show themselves as an attacking force, going close on one occasion, yet the home side remained in control.

In spite of our dominance, too many errors in front of our own 18 yard area teed up a free kick for our visitors, who promptly found Graziano’s head in the box for 0-1.

It seems that conceding so late in the half after creating several brilliant chances for ourselves took the wind out of the sails, with the second period a far more cagey affair with few chances created for either side, although Graziano did have the opportunity to double the lead.

Juventus 0-1 Torino

Thankfully, we were given the chance 4 days later to make amends for a loss which should have hurt the youngsters, for even at U19 Level, city pride was at stake…and we fluffed our lines. Surely there would be a response, and the obliging lambs to the slaughter were Cesena.

JUVENTUS (4-3-3): Vannucchi; Tavanti, Penna, Romagna, Mattiello; Roussos (1′ st Slivka), Sakor, Kabashi (14′ st Gerbaudo); Donis, Bnou-Marzouk, Otin (24′ st Rizzo).
SUBS: Citti, Buenacasa, Varga, Ceria, Cevallos, Giannarelli.
MANAGER: Zanchetta.

CESENA (4-3-1-2): Iglio; Venturini, Gabrielli, N.Arrigoni, Mordini; Valzania, Ballardini, Man. Prati; Pierfederici (8′ st S.Braccini); Raffini (19′ st Gaiani), Moncini (34′ st Dal Monte).
SUBS: Carroli, Bevitori, Fagioli, Gasperi.
Allenatore: G. Angelini.

ARBITRO: Sig. Fanton di Lodi. Assistenti: Lombardi – Mauro.
SCORERS: 24′ pt Pierfederici; 39′ st Donis, 42′ st Gerbaudo, 44′ st Donis.
YELLOW: Roussos, Venturini.

In driving rain and heavy winds, the primavera were determined to get back to winning ways, and win they did, in good style, with two second half goals from greek star Donis and one from midfielder Gerbaudo. The result leaves us third with 34 points from 17 games, a solitary point behind Empoli, but a woeful 11 behind Torino.

Tasos Donis – 2 more goals for the 17 year old…

With our failures in the UEFA Youth League, Viareggio and Coppa Italia Primavera tournaments, the league championship is the last chance for any sort of success in a season which promised so much but has delivered so little. Like many others I would be shocked if Zanchetta and Grosso were not replaced in the Summer. Too little return on Too much investment. Still, until then, we are looking a sure bet to qualify for the play-offs, and then…who knows eh???

Juventus 3-1 Chievo

17 Feb

Could Pirlo steer the troops to victory against Chievo???

Player Ratings-

Buffon – 6

His fate was tied to that of the defence in front of him, which was lacking confidence and security throughout the match. Thankfully, Bonucci put in a solid shift leaving Buffon with very few direct shots to deal with. Several of his decisions to parry and punch rather than catch the ball could of put us in danger.

Lichsteiner-6

We are used to so much more from our swiss nazi. His energy levels seemed fine, but the final ball was profligate and I felt that he lacked confidence in Caceres (especially after that horrible own goal!). An off day for the marauding wingback.

Caceres- 5.5

Hardly one of his best showings for the club. I am fond of the lad, for his tackling and determination, but am close to concluding he is best deployed on the flank (where he plays for his country). Needs to work on his positional awareness.

Bonucci-7

He was the rock we needed in absence of his two regular partners at the back. Cleaned up, covered brilliantly, distributed the ball carefully and made his presence felt in both boxes. Five interceptions, five clearances and two shots blocked. A mature performance from Leonardo.

Ogbonna –6.5

Still yet to persuade me that he is worth the money we spent, but in his defence its his first season and he hasn’t had many games. Perhaps a run in the side would settle him down and bring out his best form. Deserves praise for keeping things simple and the ball moving whenever he received it. He made 98 passes, but the vast majority were over 5-10 yards, which suggests his plan was to sit deep. Which is different to how King Giorgio plays, who despite his lack of technique on the ball, loves to bomb forward and try to get involved.

Pirlo-8

The most talented man on the field. Drove forward constantly, made himself available as the fulcrum of all our attacking play. Put himself about defensively. Two assists…always a danger from set pieces. He ran the Juve show from start to finish. Tremendous, but its what we have come to expect from the great man…

Marchisio-7

Never stopped running and gave great support at the back to Ogbonna and Asamoah. I was so happy to see him get on the score-sheet. Never one to complain, just gets his head down and gets on with the job. As mentioned further down, he is a definite second choice for me behind Pogba, but few teams will have such a wonderful back-up.

Vidal-6.5

Dogged in the challenge, but offered little moving forward. Maybe this was partially due to an awkward outing by Lichsteiner, forcing the Chilean to hold the fort more than forage in the final third. He appeared low on steam, yet still dependable. His season has been magnificent, its to be expected to find a run of games where he is below his best form.

Asamoah -8

Probably would have been closer to a 7 but that goal was magical. We don’t see that much of his prowess in that position driving through the middle, and it was one of those moments which made me think he is somewhat wasted out wide. His defensive work was average, and with Chievo heavy in numbers in both fullback areas, he found it hard to make headway in the final third. Wonderful strike though.

Llorente- 6.5

Well marshalled by the Chievo rear-guard, chances were running at a premium for the spaniard. Took his goal well enough but his link-up play with Giovinco was non-existent, the two of them often found far too close together. I hope that Osvaldo’s arrival doesn’t affect his form negatively.

Giovinco-5

Displayed great enthusiasm but was simply out-muscled or ran into a group of players too many times. His movement was out of sync with the rest of the team, but what can we expect when he hardly plays. Ran out of tricks or into a Chievo wall whenever a good chance seemed possible. The critical reception of the crowd when he was subbed off will have done his confidence no good, which shouldn’t be happening, especially when we are winning a game at home, top of the league and unbeaten in 15 matches. He deserves more respect, yet I assume, the fans feel they deserve more from him…

Osvaldo- 6

Instantly at ease on the field, Danni was given twenty minutes to impress when Chievo were shutting up shop and fatigue was setting in for both sides. He found two chances, one of which he nearly put away, the other, rather wayward. His link-up play with Tevez was present throughout and I suspect he has a chance of starting one of next two games.

Tevez-6.5

Showed eagerness to involve himself and linked up well with Osvaldo. Merely a run-out to prepare him for our tie with Trabzonspor on Thursday.

10 goals and 3 assists from 17 starts in his maiden Serie A season…

Overview-

The early stages of the game saw Chievo forced back and a lot of possession at our feet, as to be expected. It became quickly clear that our opponents were making up for their deficit of quality with brute force, with several of their tackles bordering on atrocious. What pleased me was to see how we reacted to the onslaught of hacking and scything, trips and barges. It began with two brilliant fouls by Pirlo and Marchisio, which demonstrated that if they wanted a scrap, we would be happy to oblige. I like that about our team, its one of those those vital ingredients which have been gradually creeping back into our game since Conte appeared on the scene. Its grinta…

The Asamoah goal was a thing of beauty. How often would we see such incisive penetration were he deployed as one of our central midfielders?? It is a good question, which cannot be answered until/unless we employ a specialist LWB. The one-two and the finish were sublime.

Marchisio got the goal his efforts deserved, threw himself into challenges, made himself available all over the field and gave as good a performance as I have seen of him for many moons. However, it was evident for the entirety of the game that our midfield was noticeably weaker without Pogba. It was suggested, by myself as well as many others last Summer, that this season could see il principino deposed from the starting XI and its easy to see why. Claudio is a wonderful servant to the club, technically solid, intelligent, but a weaker player than Pogba, in all areas of the game other than covering and moving around un-noticed. Yet I feel that despite Pogba’s understandable inexperience and greater comfort in the offensive phase of the game, the frenchman is not far off the italian defensively, due in no small part to his physique and robustness of bone and gristle. Whereas Claudio reads the play, senses danger with more zeal, I would always rather be facing him in a challenge on the ground or especially in the air, than Pogba. As with the player I measure as the only central midfielder superior to Vidal, (Yaya Toure), when Pogba has the ball, players literally bounce off him…He is very hard to stop once driving forward. His natural advantage of height and strength allow him more time to think before passing or shooting.

Speaking of Vidal…he is suffering from a lethargy of sorts. I would have preferred to see him rested for this game. He tackled well, but was far from his usual swashbuckling presence moving forward. Part of that problem could well be down to Caceres and an off game by Lichsteiner, both of whom I did not feel played well. Its tricky at times to see how he could ever get into our starting XI, certainly as a CB. He loves to tackle, but positionally, he is often suspect, and can tend to stand off players when worried about what is behind him. Which worries me even more!

Without Pogba to create from the centre and Tevez fighting his way all over the pitch, we became, at times yet again one dimensional, with literally everything going through Pirlo. Adding in another creative force makes us a far more dangerous team.

Llorente toiled hard but often found himself in the same area as Giovinco, which didn’t help matters. Regardless, he got his goal, well taken in the air, where he will become absolutely lethal I am sure, in time. The front two were not working in tandem, which had a knock-on effect for the rest of our play. Not just Llorente, but also Tevez, both act as reference points in the final third. The Argentine is a dwarf, but he not only has superb body strength but he uses it very smartly. Asking Seba to muscle it out with uncompromising centre-backs is a waste of his talents and our tactics. There seems no room for him in our 3-5-2.

If we want to make the most of his natural abilities, we would place him in a role between midfield and attack, not ask him to fight to even receive the ball against giants. That role does not presently exist. Whilst it seems reasonable to assume he will be heading out in the Summer, his final chance at Juve finished, I do wonder how he could perform in a 4-3-3 or 4-3-1-2. And then there is that extremely successful stint at Parma to consider…Something along the lines of 15 goals and as many assists, when deployed often as one of a front pairing in a 3-5-2 (although equally often as an AM in a 4-2-3-1).

Pirlo seems in fine fettle and the Tevez/Osvaldo axis seemed far more dangerous a pairing in the brief time they had to shine, yet some of that was due to their freshness. I get the impression they could be rather handy together.

Defensively we were far from stable. Ogbonna was more impressive than Caceres, but the absence of Chiellini and Barzagli was palpable and at times a major concern. Let’s hope they are both ready for the Europa tie mid-week.

Overall, a 3-1 home victory, with 4 of our starting XI rested, with the only goal conceded something of a freak occurrence, is hardly worth whining about. Still, I have to admit that I felt that same unease as from last season, when we would sometimes dominate games but find it hard to turn our dominance into clear cut chances. Llorente’s goal was fortunate, given the keeper’s position, who should have cut out the cross. Marchisio’s was off a rebound, always a luck affair. One other clear chance for Osvaldo…other than which, not much to show for 64% possession.

We struggled in aerial challenges, no doubt due to the absence of Pogba in the middle, who towers above most players, and also Tevez in attack, whose ability to win the ball in the air, bring it down and play it on, is rarely mentioned but always valuable.

Essentially, we were disjointed in defence and attack. Had we started with Pogba, Tevez, Chiellini and Barzagli I suspect we would have pummelled Chievo. As it stood, we were still worthy winners, yet were scrappy and lacking ideas/ intelligent movement for much of the game.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsZ0pDjrySw