It's games like this that seriously make me wonder why I wake up at 8am on a Sunday morning to catch Juve. Once I was had some morning coffee and was sufficiently awake, however, I couldn't stop watching, even if it was a relatively boring game. I guess that's the Old Lady at work. Today Juventus traveled to Sampdoria to take on Delneri's Di Carlo's team, and it ended up being a very physical battle, not entirely a surprising thing given that both sides fielded a rather "workmanlike" lineup. One that we could have won, as Martinez carved open the Samp defense and perhaps in retrospect, we wish he hadn't. Is it worse to crawl to a boring draw, or is it worse to have your hope cruelly toyed with as Juve squandered "easy" chances at the end? Full review after the jump.
Buffon: 6- Since he's come back, San Gigi has hardly had any saves to make. He's played against Catania, Bari, and now Sampdoria, and seriously, we should be charging him admission. Today, Sampdoria only had one real effort on goal, a mis-shot that luckily landed right in Pazzini's path, who horribly scuffed it. Is it a coincidence our defense has tightened up since San Gigi is back? I don't think so, he certainly is very vocal and provides that leadership that perhaps Storari, as great a shot-stopper he is, had been hit-or-miss on.
Motta: 5- Sadly, every game is turning out to be the same for Motta. Can't really defend, caught out of position, offers very limited in attack, it's becoming painfully clear that his option will not be picked up come June. I wonder if he knows that.
Bonucci: 7- Classy play from defense, he's certainly more of a passer than Giorgio is. The two of them formed an unbreakable pairing today, the fullbacks general mediocrity notwithstanding, and hardly let Pazzini or Macheda have an eye on goal. Had a very good effort on goal, altogether a very confident performance from Leonardo.
Chiellini: 6.5- Dominated aerial play and kept Sampdoria quiet for much of the game. He'd get Bonucci's rating although he had a nervy moment here and there, one he was booked for, and one was a possible penalty shout for bulldozing over Macheda in the box. Not saying it was a penalty, but some referees might have called it.
Grosso: 6- Came on as a sub shortly after Traore, and much like his generally "acceptable" performance this season after having been frozen out of the squad, did his job as a professional. Limited Mannini's movement on the wings, didn't offer much up top, but an improved defensive display.
Krasic: 5.5- Like our team in general, he hasn't really clicked back into gear after the Christmas break. Milos had a few accelerations that probably freaked out Ziegler and Samp fans, but faded fast from the game and had very little influence. Rightfully hooked after the break.
Aquilani: 6- Was very inconsistent today, and Juve's performance closely mirrored that inconsistency. Doesn't seem as fully fit as he was back in December, physically he faded as the game went on. It might be because as Adam notes on the newest episode of "It Ain't Over", he had a lot more defense work to do, helped out Motta on the right wing on occasion.
Sissoko: 6.5- It was a very physical match with lots of tackles, exactly what Momo thrives on, and he had a good performance. Won the ball back, for much of the 1st half, he controlled the midfield with Aquilani and Marchisio. A lively battle with Poli and Palombo.
Marchisio: 6- As a winger offered his typical hard work and coverage, but I really don't like him as a left-winger, I think his talent is wasted. You can probably copy-paste this line for every one of his games at left-mid.
Pepe: 6.5- Surprised me at how naturally he slotted in at seconda punta, of course, it was his original role years ago, but he rolled back the years instantly. I think that's as good as a performance as Floro Flores would give, sorta ditto for Martinez. Moved to a winger position and cooled down a bit, but a good performance.
Amauri: 3.5- What can you say anymore about Amauri? Forget us, this man needs to get the fuck out of Turin for his own sake. Unless he wants to pull a Winston Bogarde, clearly the playing environment is not working for him, and a move might shake things up to get him to be a half decent striker, because right now, Erjon Bodgani has FIVE more goals than him in Serie A.
Delneri: 5.5- While Delneri clearly his been working at the defensive problems we had (and it's paid off) there are a number of decisions that are baffling to me. I'll go into them more below.
Del Piero: 6.5- Yes, he missed a golden opportunity to win the game, but three possible reasons. First, that's not an easy goal to score, he should have, but was trying to place it and leaned back too much. Second, he's had the flu and was very sick yesterday, and third, the Marassi pitch was dreadful. Disappointing for him to miss, but he made a difference when he came on and proved at age 36 that he's still a crucial member of this squad.
Martinez: 7- Speaking of difference-makers, whew. El Malaka came on and totally changed the game, opening Sampdoria's defense up time and time again despite coming on 6 minutes before regulation time ends. Created 3 golden opportunities, two Alex shots, and headed back for Amauri to somehow not bang it in.
Things I Think I Think:
#1- Moments that Delneri made me facepalm-
a. Why on earth is Amauri still starting? Some said supposedly Delneri gave Amauri today as his "last chance" to prove himself, as much as I'd like to believe it, I doubt it. The man is awful, and he destroys our offensive play simply by existing. Unable to get into goal-scoring position, too slow to beat players like Volta to the ball, cannot shoot, cannot score, he's awful. I understand maybe Delneri wants to keep his value/self-esteem high, but I think both are still ruined by him playing. It's time for Delneri or Marotta to come out and say "Amauri's time at Juventus is finished, we thank him for his efforts but it's best for us to both move on." Promote Libertazzi (1:20 in the video) and give him some time, he's promising. Or Giannetti, he may have been relatively anonymous against Catania (I think it was?) but Amauri literally destroys our play by being up top, Giannetti wouldn't necessarily help, but he wouldn't harm it either.
b. Why didn't El Malaka come on earlier? Jorge Martinez has had many critics dating back to this summer, you may recall I am not one of them. While he probably wouldn't have been a primary transfer target for me, there's no doubt he's a creative and versatile player. It's a shame he showed up to training overweight and out of shape. Regardless, he started to show some of his talent heading into November before breaking his foot against Milan. And in the last two weeks, he's looked very lively when playing. He played 30 minutes last week, trained all week, why on earth couldn't he have done a half? Whether it was up top with Del Piero as he did before, or as a winger, he changed the game. Couple more chances and surely we'd have buried the, right? As someone mentioned- maybe if he gets in good form, we'll see a long-haired South American tricky dribbler and a blonde Eastern European tearing up the flanks again...
c. Did Delneri confuse the wings? There's a couple things that Delneri has done tactically on the wings that makes plenty of sense. Pairing an ultra defense right-back (Grygera/Sorensen) with an ultra-offensive winger, of course Krasic, makes sense. There might not be overlapping play between them, but they stick to their task, and do it well. On the other flank, Marchisio started playing left-wing to accomodate Paolo De Ceglie's less than stellar defensive abilities, although they did improve as the season goes on. Grosso shouldn't need anyone to hold his hand, so Pepe should be able to play in front of him no problem, with typical Pepe hard work. I don't understand why Marchisio is playing on the left-wing when he doesn't really need to (I guess playing time out of position is better than no playing time) or why Delneri chose to go with Motta again. As I said, Motta might realize by now he probably won't get picked up, and if he does, his performances will surely drop, but playing him behind Krasic limits Milos immensely. Milos has to track back more, play more defense, offer coverage...things that surely limit his attacking play, right? So play Sorensen/Grygera-Milos on the right, and on the left, if Marchisio is playing, we want a more attacking fullback. Like maybe Simone Pepe.
#2- I'd Love Andrea Poli on this Team. Should Sampdoria be interested in selling (they're probably not) there's no question we should look at Poli. Very young still, Delneri launched his career last year and he formed a great center midfield partnership with Palombo, he's been on the outs of the first team most of this year, and put in a pretty good performance today to show what promise he does have. Poli has denied any interest in moving to Juve, and relations with Samp of course are not very good, unfortunately.
#3- I'd also take Ziegler. (and Palombo, Lucchini, and I guess half of Samp) Sure, Milos was having an offday, but Ziegler did a pretty good job at left-back for Samp, a very efficient display. He's worked under Delneri in the past, and while he wouldn't be a big upgrade on De Ceglie, I think he'd be a fine player to rotate in with him, it'd be nice to have a reserve left-back that isn't atrocious. Certainly a big upgrade over Traore or Grosso, that's for sure. It seems Ziegler will finish the next 6 months of his contract at Sampdoria, but he's eligible to negotiate a move in June starting now. Marotta should start talking to him- Milan is interested as well, though perhaps Beppe doesn't want to "upset" Sampdoria in case he decides to go Crazy this summer...
#4- The Quality has Disappeared from Sampdoria- Boy, and some people complain about our side being too functional and not creative. Not only does Andrea Poli not get enough playing time, they dumped Cassano for virtually free, their creativity has dried up. Not good for two strikers like Pazzini and Macheda who thrive on service in the box. It's sad to see Samp this year, they are a shell of a team they were last year, and it's hard to see a positive future for them. Di Carlo won't get them relegated, but he's used to working with teams full of garbage teams, so it's unlikely we'll see a creative, forceful Sampdoria anytime in the near future. That talk about the Vialli-Mancini partnership being recreated with Pazzini-Cassano? No more. I wonder how long Giampaolo will want to stay at a team destined for mid-table finishes...
#5- Team Eats- Pesto, I happen to know everything there is to know about pesto. I love pesto. I love pesto on pancakes. I love it on pizza. And I take pesto and put a little bit in my hair when I've had a rough week.
Milos v. Sampdoria 4 months ago...
#6- Krasic needs a break. From calcio, and from Motta. Maybe Milos is just a bit tired? I know he's He-man and all, but even superheroes need to take a break once in a while, right? Kid has been playing nonstop for about a year now, with CSKA and the World Cup occupying pretty much his entire summer, it's easy to see how he could hit a bit of burnout now. Or maybe it's just because he has to track back more to cover Motta, which makes him a little more tired, and begins a vicious cycle...
#7- Roma and Udinese coming up this Week- Reasons to care about these upcoming games- sure, it's just Roma in the Coppa, but we're both tied on 9 wins, and 10 gives us a big fancy star. I'd like the Coppa, but 2nd best is Roma not getting that silver star before us. Petty? Absolutely. And Udinese might want a bit of revenge. We spanked them 4-0 at their home earlier this fall when their season was starting off absurdly slow. Then again, that was revenge for losing 3-0 at the Stadio Friuli last March. Does revenge transfer stadiums? I don't know, but Udinese thrashed Inter 3-1 today, and have been scoring absurdly freely in the last month, one of the in-form teams in Serie A. They will not be the same team we rolled over in September, although I feel Udinese played well but Inter also played poorly.
#8- This team today with Luca Toni in place of Amauri gets the 3 points. Just sayin. Also, a small (very small) part of me does feel for Amauri. You can see the goal-scoring drought is weighing on him, his confidence is shot, he's probably depressed. Like I said, leaving Torino might be the best option for him career-wise as well as psychologically at this point.
#9- Mercato Madness- Zarate? Don't like him. Overrated and attitude issues. Forlan and Fabiano are great players, but too old to move to make them our "franchise prima punta", we'd have to replace both in 2 years or so, and that's not worth the investment Sevilla or Atletico would want. Matri's available on free in 6 months, and he's an interesting idea, but my mind is still shouting the same thing it was about 18 months ago- "Pazzini, bitches." If we move for him, Garrone might not invite Beppe to his birthday party next year, but it's worth it...