Over the next week and a half, here at the Juventus Offside we will be profiling Juventini, their characteristics, and what role they play for their national team. It might not be the most useful for regular readers or general Juventus fans, but I think we Juventini are most apt, perhaps, to describe the quality of these players as we watch them week-in, week-out. We’ve done Italy players Gianluigi Buffon, Claudio Marchisio, and Vincenzo Iaquinta. Brazil enigma Felipe Melo, Martin Caceres of Uruguay, Hans Christian Anderson Christian Poulsen of Denmark, today we profile future Juventus and Italy captain and defensive stalwart, Giorgio Chiellini.
Birthplace: Pisa, Italy (yes, the Pisa) though he grew up playing for Pisa's local rivals, Livorno.
Nickname: Keyser Giorgio (coined by Marco P.), Giorgio of the Jungle (coined by Nnahoj), Tarzan, Chiello, the Schnoz
National Team: Italy, where over at the World Cup Blog, Julian and Paul keep you up-to-date on Azzurri news. (Sister site to The Offside for national teams)
Personality: Chiellini is not exactly your typical young superstar calciatore. Thanks to a Twitter Chat he conducted (translated on the Juve Offside here), we learned quite a bit about him. First, neat that he is so willing to chat with his fans. Despite being a millionaire athlete, he still attends school and is currently about finished with his equivalent of a US Bachelors, and then plans to work on his Masters. His girlfriend is a childhood friend of his from Livorno, and he doesn't really go out clubbing or anything, just downtown for some dinner. This is pretty apparent in his off-field personality, he's a pretty quiet intelligent player.
On the field, however, he is a warrior, and a true leader. He's not afraid of conflict, battles hard, and doesn't shy from tough tackles or provocations. Chiellini has gained quite a reputation of a hardman, which is kind of funny that off the field he is such a quiet person. A very hard-working player, not a prima donna, and one who battles for his team.
Estimated Market Value: €25 million.
Preferred Foot: Left.
Media Status: Famous. Giorgio's rise to fame really came in 2007-2008, the year Juventus returned from Serie B when he was shifted to a center-back having previously been a left-back. He was a colossus, winning the 2007-2008 Serie A Defender of the Year award, as well as winning it the next year in 2008-2009. His first major tournament with Italy was Euro 2008, which began poorly as he accidentally knocked Fabio Cannavaro out of the tournament. After the disaster that was the 3-0 drubbing to the Netherlands at the hands of Barzagli-Materazzi, Italy coach Roberto Donadoni opted for Panucci-Chiellini in the center, and they would concede 1 goal in 3 games against Romania, France, and Spain. (The one goal was a horrific backpass from Zambrotta) Against Spain, Giorgio was a one-man tackling machine and won Man-of-the-Match awards. This was followed by an excellent season the next year, including powerhouse displays against Real Madrid in the Champion's League. He's now widely regarded as one of the top 3 defenders in Italy, and probably one of the top 3 in Europe and the world.
With Juventus: Serie B 2006-2007
Strengths: Giorgio Chiellini is a prototype Italian hardman center-back. Unbeatable in the air, fast on the ground, and brilliant in his slide-tackling, Chiellini is very well rounded. He's very different than Fabio Cannavaro, who largely plays off of an excellent reading of the game. Chiellini is a much taller traditional center-back, an excellent man-marker, and as mentioned, is no slouch when it comes to pace. In the build-up to the 2009 Confederation's Cup, it was found in the Italy squad that Chiellini was the fastest sprinter. He's well known for his excellent slide tackles that often level an opponent, playing tough is part of Giorgio's game. Yet this doesn't really weigh on him physically- Chiellini has one of the best injury records at Juventus, which is no small thing. His most serious injury the last 2 years or so has kept him out a maximum of 3 weeks or so.
Weaknesses: Chiellini is one of the best defenders in Italy, Europe, and the world right now, so he doesn't have a whole lot of weaknesses. He does enjoy going forward and joining the attack, he is an excellent goal threat primarily in the air. Generally, he is not caught out of position on this, though it of course does occasionally happen. One thing that could improve is Chiellini's distribution, he is certainly no defender who builds up play, but that's not really his job. He's not quite as good as Cannavaro in reading the game, but he makes up for it with excellent last-ditch tackling. Occasionally, he does make a rash challenge, but that's to be expected for a player who is so prolific with the slide tackle.
Status on Club Team: Building block for the future. Along with Gianluigi Buffon and Claudio Marchisio, Giorgio Chiellini has been one of the most reliable and consistent performers for Juventus the last few seasons, and it's no surprise that the three have been named as the backbone on which Juventus will rebuild.
2009-2010 Club Season: Juventus were dreadful this season, but Chiellini wasn't. Abandoned all too often by consistently dreadful wingbacks and an indifferent Fabio Cannavaro, Chiellini is one of the main reasons the season wasn't any worse. Our defense leaked an unprecedented (for Juventus) amount of goals, but I can't really think of one that Chiellini was directly responsible for.
Status in National Team: Starter, and probably future captain. Chiellini got first call-up to the national team in 2004 at age 20 (throwaway game against Finland) but didn't really get regular call-ups until 2007-2008, he was never really in consideration for the 2006 World Cup. I called that Chiellini should be a starter at Euro2008, but it took a 3-0 humiliation for Donadoni to draft him in. Ever since, he has been an undisputed starter and star for the national team, and it's not an exaggeration to say he very likely could be starting in the next two World Cups as well.
An unlikely duo in 2007-2008 considering Chiellini was a raw left-back and Legrottaglie was on his way to Turkey, but ended up being the best partnership in Serie A from 2007-2009, until Cannavaro came along and ruined it. As Chiellini said, "He [Legrottaglie] helped me a lot, to teach me specific movements when I started as a center-back, we can play now with eyes closed." (except Ferrara was choosing Cannavaro over Legrottaglie)
Expected Performance for National Team: Hero. Italy's defense can be a bit on the slow side, with Zambrotta and Cannavaro still starting, but Chiellini is fast. A lot of question marks have been made about these defenders, so expect Chiellini to be bailing them out and in crucial games, have a brilliant performance. He's never disappointed for the Azzurri thus far. Euro 2008 was sort of his "coming out on the European scene" party, this World Cup could be the time when the whole world sees him as one of the best.
Random Fact: Giorgio Chiellini's best friend at Juventus is fellow quiet left-back Paolo De Ceglie, who is his roommate on away trips. (Find more interesting facts about Chiellini at his Twitter Chat)
Another random fact is that Chiellini scored 4 goals this season, 1 less than our wasteful Brazilian forward Amauri.
In one word: Colossus.
YouTube Comp with Questionable Music:
YouTube Comp of Chiellini's first huge game, Juventus-Inter, November 2007)
Marked the shit out of Ibrahimovic.
YouTube Comp Without Terribly Questionable Music:
World Cup Player Profiles and Other Links:
#1- Gianluigi Buffon
#2- Claudio Marchisio
#3- Felipe Melo
#4- Martin Caceres
#5- Fabio Cannavaro
#6- Vincenzo Iaquinta
#7- Mauro Camoranesi
#8- Christian Poulsen
#9- Giorgio Chiellini