Every now and then, I like to cruise around the non-Serie A SBN blogs just to see what's happenin'. No trolling, just a lookie here and a lookie there. Sometimes you find some things that make you think, sometimes you find others that make you nod so much you get neck pains.
What I am trying to get at is that there was this post and It got me thinking.
And then, with all the Scudetto stuff happening these past two weekends, it made me think about how far Juve have come under Antonio Conte. That took me to who coached Juventus before our lord and savior Conte took control of the club two summers ago. That man, of course, is Gigi Delneri.
So I started thinking some more. In particular, about two things.
1. What the heck was Delneri's starting lineup in his first Serie A game as Juventus manager?
2. Of those 11 players on the field in Bari, who the hell is still part of the squad just a little less than three years later?
Since it's "Sampdoria Week" around these parts, Juventus have a guy with a Samp past doing transfer business these days, and there's not a whole lot to talk about other than the random crap Tuttosport and their Italian competitors are spewing out on a daily basis, I figured I would share my findings with the masses. We could all use a laugh, right?
And now, Gigi Delneri's first Juventus starting XI as Juventus manager. What a memorable 1-0 loss to Bari it was.
GK — Marco Storari
After an impressive loan spell under the watchful eyes of Delneri and Beppe Marotta (insert joke here) at Sampdoria, Storari was brought to Turin to spell the injured Gigi Buffon for the first half of the 2010-11 season after Juve's No. 1 was injured at Euro 2010. Storari started 22 games in Serie A that year, proving to be one heck of a goalkeeper who would expectedly become a full-time backup once Buffon was fully fit later in the season.
With Buffon's significantly improved health situation the past two years, Storari's playing time has basically been relegated to Coppa Italia and an occasional Serie A start. Then again, when you're the backup to God, that's pretty much expected to happen.
RB — Marco Motta
At first I just wanted to type "lol" and move on to the next player, but then I had the hunch that I wouldn't exactly be doing my job, so I will actually talk about somebody who probably doesn't deserve much space on the internet whatsoever. But what I won't do is talk about his stint at Juventus. And really, who does? Not me, not any of you.
Motta is currently on loan at Bologna where he has actually been allowed to see the field 19 times, according to WhoScored. Hey, the joke's on you guys.
In conclusion: lol.
CB — Leonardo Bonucci
Coincidently, Bonucci's first official Serie A game with Juventus was against the one he had played for just months prior. His price was a rather large one, €15 million, for a player who had just one season of Serie A experience under his belt. And Bonucci had a solid, yet unspectacular first season with Juve. But since then, Bonucci has blossomed under Conte's direction. There's still the occasional screw up, but Bonucci, still just 26 years old, has become quite the fit in the middle of Juventus' 3-5-2 defense and a clear leader on a team that is suddenly full of them.
I'll say it right now: Money well spent.
CB — Giorgio Chiellini
Part-time bone crusher, part-time technology nerd, Chiellini has been one of the best defenders in the world for the better part of the last five years. The loss to Bari was obviously the first time the Chiellini-Bonucci partnership was seen in a Serie A game, one that some had doubts over because they were viewed as too alike. Instead, both central defenders have only continued to get better over the past three years, no matter what formation they have been deployed in.
Now, at the age of 28 years old, Chiellini has won two straight Scudettos as he attempts to destroy the opposition and draw fouls with ridiculous reactions week in and week out. You gotta love the guy — unless you're not a Juve fan, of course.
LB — Paolo De Ceglie
Juventus entered the season with two relatively young fullbacks. And as we came to discover, one would show signs of continuous improvements while the other became a ticking time bomb waiting to explode whenever scoring an own goal was remotely possible. Luckily for De Ceglie, he was the former and not the latter. Known for developing young defenders, Delneri's coaching was an aid in De Ceglie's progress that he made. But like so many seasons before — and after — the injury bug hit PDC hard. His 25 appearances in the 2010-11 season is the most he has had in a Juventus jersey and only trails his loan spell at Siena two years prior.
De Ceglie has had his usual injury troubles ever since, and has become the clear No. 2 left wing-back to Kwadwo Asamoah this season. It doesn't look like PDC will ever been a regular starter like he was under Delneri, which is sad to see for fans of his like yours truly.
RM — Milos Krasic
After a long, drawn-out transfer saga with CSKA Moscow, Krasic made his Serie A debut with just a few days of training with the team. But what followed was an impact on the first half of the season nobody could have predicted. Krasic carried the team at times, making breathtaking runs down the right flank seemingly every game he played in. He was one of the biggest reasons why Juve were a completely overachieving team going into the winter break.
And then, suddenly, that form disappeared. Poof! Gone! Up in smoke! He was never able to regain that kind of form and was ultimately confined to the bench when Conte took over and then switched from the 4-3-3 to the 3-5-2 formation. Marotta cashed in on the Serbian winger as much as he could, selling Krasic to Fenerbache this past summer. Ironically, playing time has been sporadic at best for Meelosh in Turkey as well.
CM — Felipe Melo
I choose to not remember a whole lot of things about Delneri's tenure as Juventus manager, but one of the best things he ever did was turn Felipe Melo from a psychotic, overpriced defensive midfielder into one that actually served a purpose. For a season that sucked so damn much, Melo was one of the few bright spots. Forget the fact about who he is, but he was a very good player — and a lot of that had to do with how Delneri wrangled him into a somewhat non-destructive player.
He's currently wearing the No. 10 jersey for Galatasaray, who didn't buy Melo outright for the second consecutive year despite the opportunity to do so. Just hurry up and sell him so that phase of our life can be completely forgotten.
CM — Claudio Marchisio
From the crazy to the beloved. What can I say about Claudio Marchisio that hasn't already been said?
Marchisio has gone from young midfielder just breaking into the Juventus team to future captain. It's been one hell of a ride for our resident Principino. He has matured right in front of eyes — which is saying something considering what kind of player he was when he first became a regular starter. Of course, Marchisio was employed as a hybrid left-ish winger/center midfielder in Delneri's lopsided 4-4-2 formation once Alberto Aquilani was brought into the squad. But once Conte showed up, that nonsense ended, and Marchisio subsequently had the best season as a professional.
What a magnificent player, this Claudio Marchisio fella.
LM — Simone Pepe
Everybody's favorite guy with dolphin tats, Pepe has certainly had an up-and-down — and certainly more a lot more bad than good this season — three seasons at Juventus. Brought to Juventus by Marotta on loan with the option to buy (shocker there, I know), Pepe started 22 games and later proved to be a valuable player off the bench for Delneri. While clearly limited in his actual footballing skills, he attempts — keyword there — to make it up in other areas, like running his tail off. He scored eight goals in his first season at Juve, more than probably a lot of people expected him to.
It remains to be seen what Pepe's role — actually on the field or as the official player/cheerleader combo — with Juventus will be. There's no doubting Conte is a fan, but he's certainly got quite an injury bug to get over and kick.
ST — Fabio Quaglirella
What a first of the 2010-11 Quaglirella had. And then it all vanished when his knee exploded on him the first game back from the winter break. He scored nine goals in 17 games, a fantastic tally for somebody who had always scored the spectacular goals but was always considered consistently inconsistent.
While he's never found the same kind of goal-scoring prowess he had in his first season, Quagliarella has had a solid season this year, scoring 12 goals in 34 games in all competitions. His Juventus future is certainly unclear heading into a summer where a striker is priority No. 1, but we will always have the fall of 2010, Fabio. And those goals against Chelsea in the Champions League. Those were fun, too.
ST — Alessandro Del Piero
You might have heard about this guy. If not, I suggest you look him up on the interwebs.
I could write about him, but just watch the video instead.
I miss that guy.
At last check, Del Piero is currently playing with kangaroos after signing on to play another year for Sydney FC.