As part of the first portion of a seasonal review (hurrah unemployment) I've decided to, like last year, do a rating for every player who took part this season. Ratings, are of course opinionated by nature, but that's probably why we like them so much, as fans of Calcio, so we can debate and argue. The ratings below reflect their time on the pitch, but in some cases I docked a player a point or two for injuries. I know it's not really their fault, but it's an attempt to show the value to the team, I suppose. Without further ado, I present the player ratings for Juventus, season 2008-2009.
7.5: Aside from a bit of an error on a (wrongly) disallowed goal against Gilardino, Buffon made no mistakes, as we've come to expect. He has made some solid saves, but has not been on the same level as previous years. The last two seasons he's missed nearly 3-4 months due to injury, something that has surprisingly not really hurt our team. Perhaps remaining healthy will bring him back to his superhuman form, as of now, I would give the best keeper award to Julio Cesar, much as it pains me to say it. Seeing his reactions against Lecce when the season was quickly going down the toilet was even more painful.
BEST MOMENT: There have been some “great” saves, but unlike last year not any particularly “world-class” ones. I'll give it to his save against Cagliari on Biondi.
ALEX MANNINGER- 6.5: Brilliant piece of work by Secco, given Buffon's injury problems and the absurdly low price. A better keeper than probably all save 2-3 of the starters in Serie A, Manninger held down the fort during Gigi's absence. No stunning saves, and he made a few “small” errors against Inter and Lazio but in general he was steady, consistent, and a reassuring presence at the back, which is all you can ask for from a backup keeper. On Football Manager, Manninger demanded playing time and eventually went to Roma to fulfill it. Luckily in real life, Alex understands his role and is fine with it.
BEST MOMENT: Juventus 4-2 Milan. Conceding two at home might not seem like a good game, but it was a deflected shot and a tap-in he could do nothing about. Aside from that, looked confident and was not troubled by Milan at all.
ANTONIO CHIMENTI- N/R: Thrown in to sweeten the Manninger deal along with the Belardi loan, he is the team's muppet.
Best Moment: Never setting a foot on the pitch.
GIORGIO CHIELLINI- 8: Not quite as good as last season and looked uncharacteristically nervy in some games, but as a whole, Giorgio was still a colossus this season. The steel and grit he provides in the back is crucial to the team. Continued his rock-solid partnership with Legrottaglie until the end of the season when injury and suspension pulled the duo apart; not surprisingly, the team started conceding plenty. I still don't know if he was sent off for dissent or a poor refereeing call against Chelsea. Future captain of Juventus and the Azzurri.
BEST MOMENT: He's scored a good amount of goals this season, but his header against the Toro brought us local bragging rights, 3 points, and furthered the Granata's relegation.
NICOLA LEGROTTAGLIE- 7.5: A very good campaign from the former winner of the dubious bidone d'oro prize. Alongside Chiellini, the duo had the best defensive record in Serie A until the end of the season. Like Chiellini, he is not quite the same when playing without his partner. Still a bit vulnerable on the counter-attack, but with Giorgio's pace by his side, it is generally not a problem. Deservedly called back into the Nazionale and could be going to WC2010.
BEST MOMENT: Against a team like Atalanta, Juve often had trouble finding the motivation. Atlanta has a dangerous attack with Floccari and Doni, but in the andata in Bergamo, Legrottaglie organized the defense wonderfully and the less-evil Nerazzurri barely had a sniff on goal.
CRISTIAN MOLINARO- 6.5: If you look at my player ratings from last season, I gave him a 4.5 and hoped for his departure. He has upped his game significantly the season, and always gives his all, playing the most minutes of any Juventus player this season. Defensively he has developed into a reliable left-back, and I can honestly say when he was up against Robben and Malouda, I was not panicking. He did well to contain the both, which is not easy. I'd give him a 6.5 or possibly even a 7, but he is still woefully lacking in the offensive department. Please, someone teach him to cross!
BEST MOMENT: Containing Robben very well in both Champion's League games, to the point that Schuster switched Robben to the other flank to try and attack Grygera/Salihamidzic, or defending against Balotelli perfectly in Juventus-Inter.
ZDENEK GRYGERA- 5.5: I've always liked Grygera, but towards the tail end of the season it has been painfully obvious he is not the caliber of player to man our right flank. He's been caught out of position and responsible for several goals. Last season he started out poorly but grew steadily into his role, but sadly has not really continued this growth. If only Criscito was right-footed...
BEST MOMENT: He's not as defensively sound as Molinaro, but he provides more up front. Without a doubt this goes to his goal against Inter at home, in stoppage time, that allowed us to save face.
PAOLO DE CEGLIE- 5.5: I maintain PDC should be played at left-mid instead of left-back, where his pace and crossing ability are even more useful. Until the end of the season, as a left-back, his defending was pretty mediocre. A run out of games could give him the confidence and experience to become a great left-back though. He gets his own rating as a midfielder.
BEST MOMENT: In the Pro Bowl of the Serie A, the Coppa Italia, PDC pulled a Sean Taylor, refusing to give in to the nature of the glorified friendly. Except he managed to take himself out with a crunching tackle against Napoli.
HASAN SALIHAMIDZIC- 5.5: In the games he's played at right-back, he's offered the same thing we expect from Brazzo. Nothing flashy, nothing fancy, but hard work and consistent mediocrity, which for a reserve defender is not a bad thing. Was injured for too much of the season, though. Like PDC, he gets a separate rating as a midfielder.
BEST MOMENT: Mr. Versatility allowing us to sub a midfielder for a defender and still be balanced.
JONATHAN ZEBINA- 6: The exact opposite of Grygera in that I've never liked him nor particularly rated him. Neither did Ranieri. Was out all the beginning of the season with a thigh injury, but has grudgingly earned some respect from me with his performances towards the end of the season. Is he a better right-back than Grygera right now? I would say that's true.
BEST MOMENT: Not conceding 2-3 penalties, not being sent off, and not slapping a cameraman in his first game of the season. That'll do.
LORENZO ARIAUDO-6: Didn't exactly pull a Motta or a Santon, but slowly brought into the team by Ranieri in the Coppa and eventually used in Serie A. When he played, he did not look very nervous, which he credited Legrottaglie's presence and instruction for. One for the future, the question is, loan him for experience, or keep him as a reserve? He has the capability to play well as a reserve or in rotation, but it might deprive him of vital playing time. If he goes out, he definitely should go to a Serie A squad.
BEST MOMENT: I'll go with his debut in general. He looked pretty good out there given his age and confirmed our youth academy is producing some great talent.
OLOF “The Beard” MELLBERG- 6: I thought it was great to compare him to Loria, who Roma actually spent money on. It makes me feel a lot better about his transfer. Against Real Madrid, Roma, and other big games, Mellberg played wonderfully, making crucial tackles and generally being dominant in the air. Against the lower, weaker teams, he was schooled. A good reserve, but no one is suggesting he take a starting place anymore, unless perhaps at right-back. At right-back he is not as adventrous as Grygera or Zebina, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. There are rumors of Olympiakos offering 3million euros for him. No dice, it would cost much more to get an equally capable replacement.
BEST MOMENT: He's a reserve, unless we are playing in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. There he should automatically be guaranteed a starting shirt.
DARIO KNEZEVIC- 2.5: He gets a bad enough rating for his awful performance(s), but also, he was brought in as cover, yet managed to be injured nearly all season, taking a cue from ex-Juventino Jorge Andrade. Brilliant defending such as in the Napoli game where he inexplicably decided to try and an audacious clearance despite no pressure...giving the ball to an unmarked Lavezzi. Even when he was healthy towards the end of the season, Ranieri chose Ariaudo over him. Thank God we only brought him in on loan, he is on the first bus back to Livorno.
BEST MOMENT: Snapping his knee so he wasn't even an option. I'd rather play Grygera or De Ceglie as center-back.
JORGE ANDRADE- 0: We spent 4.5million euros per game on this guy. I don't blame him, I blame Agricola. This is the stuff he should be failing. We nabbed him instead of Gabriel Milito much in the way we got Poulsen instead of Xabi Alonso. It does comfort me to see Milito out for the last year with a knee injury.
BEST MOMENT: Tearing up his contract.
MOMO SISSOKO- 7: Momo came under a bit of criticism as the season went on for his propensity to win the ball and turn it right back over, but was a titan in the midfield for the first half of the season. Great performances against Real where he never stopped running, constantly pressuring the other midfield and forcing them to abandon Guti as a playmaker and stick to the wings. Broke his foot after being played too soon after injury, and in some games we missed his energetic presence in midfield.
BEST MOMENT: His goal against Palermo, where Sissokodinho actually worked.
CLAUDIO MARCHISIO- 7.5: I would argue jointly with Nedved, he was our best midfielder this season. Early injuries to Zanetti and Poulsen moved him up the pecking order, and give credit to Ranieri for playing him early in the season over Tiago. (though I will never understand why Ranieri chose Tiago over him for the game at Stamford Bridge) Energetic, young, Italian, and from Turin, it can't get better. Shows great confidence and maturity for his age, positioning himself very well. As the season has moved on, he's started to display a bit of goalscoring ability, which, with a bit of training I'm sure he could be great at. Should have been called up over a few players for Lippi's most recent Nazionale squad, but Lippi probably wanted to leave him to the u-21 team.
BEST MOMENT: Hard to decide, as a whole performance, the 4-2 win over Milan was brilliant, he was all over in midfield distributing balls, winning them back, dribbling through the Milan midfield and unleashing some screamers. For a single moment, his goal against Fiorentina. Followed a genius Del Piero assist through and calmly chipped one of the best Serie A keepers. With the confidence and ease in which he did it, you would have never known it was his first professional goal.
CRISTIANO ZANETTI- 6.5: I docked him a little bit because of his never-ending injury struggles, those thigh strains really are a killer. But since his return from injury, he's shown us what we've been missing. An engine in midfield, pressuring the other team well and winning balls back, he also is a quite good passer of the ball. It's that combination that neither Tiago nor Sissoko have. He will be an important part of next season if he can stay healthy.
BEST MOMENT: His wonder-volley against Atalanta, possibly the Juventus goal of the season.
TIAGO- 6.5: Tiago, Tiago, Tiago......I can't make up my mind on you. The Portuguese midfielder put in some very good performances this season and had more or less won a starting spot before he got injured for 2-3 months, but alternated that with some utterly average ones. I do like he's showing more emotion and a real commitment to the Juventus cause, but the jury is still out on this one.
BEST MOMENT: Flattening Balotelli. No really, I'm serious.
PAVEL NEDVED- 8: The Czech warhorse had a great season, providing plenty of assists and becoming the highest scorer among non-strikers. Played well even though he was abused with 180min week-in-week-out by Ranieri. When played as a center-midfielder, was excellent and I think we should have moved him there and prolonged his career. It seems he had made up his mind to retire in the last month, despite not annonuncing it until the day before, because he played like a man possessed. Never won the cup with the big 'ole ears, but certainly deserved to. Enjoy retirement, Pavel.
BEST MOMENT: That wonderful volley against his personal punching bag, ASS Roma, seconds after entering the game.
MAURO CAMORANESI- 7.5: Sigh.....when Mauro plays, he's magic. Unfortunately over the course of the last two years, that “when” is becoming more and more rare. Only was fit enough to start in 1/3rd of Serie A games this season, his presence has been missed. We need to hire some Asian massueses on-call 24/7 for this guy, we can split them with Zanetti, Zebina, and all the other players that got nasty thigh strains this season.
BEST MOMENT: Soldiering through a dislocated shoulder against Reggina for the first half, and scoring a nice goal in the process.
CHRISTIAN POULSEN- 4.5: Everyone I've talked to in Spain has crowed about Poulsen, saying he was arguably one of the best midfielders in La Liga during his two year spell. Given the talent in this league, that's no small compliment. Similarly, people have told me about his success when at Schalke. But he hasn't reproduced that form at Juventus. To be fair to Poulsen, he was A. Coming under the impression as a vice-Xabi Alonso, when he is in fact a reserve to Zanetti. And B. He's dealt with injuries all season and has been unable to get a decent run out. But in the few games he's played, he hasn't stamped his authority on the pitch. Christian hasn't been awful, but has really made zero impact either. I'm not entirely ready to give up on him, yet, it seems quite clear from his play that his confidence is completely shot. Maybe it's because we greeted him by calling him a “rubbish player.” Maybe it's because he was quickly moved to 3rd-string. Whatever the reason is, let's hope he can sort it out. He's a good player and has plenty to offer Juventus.
BEST MOMENT: Dumb-luck goal against Catania in stoppage time after a whiff of a clearance from one of their defenders, a simple tap-in but was so significant in reviving Juve's form.
HASAN SALIHAMIDZIC- 6.5: As stated in his defender rating, Brazzo, as many of our players, has been plagued with injuries all season, and thus unable to produce his best form. In the brief time he was healthy, he played 2 sensational games that made me wonder why he cannot play more often like that.
BEST MOMENT: His game (sorry for music...eh) in the 4-1 thrashing of Bologna. Brazzo was wonderfully dangerous and created plenty of great opportunities for the forwards and scored a very intelligent goal.
MARCO MARCHIONNI- 5.5: Infuriatingly inconsistent, that's the best way to describe his season. When we signed him on a free transfer from Parma, he was one of the best wingers in Italy. Injuries and a lack of playing time have certainly limited his explosiveness. (Side note, if I told you last August we would have our most injury-plagued season in 5-6 seasons, which one of you would have predicted Marco would have remained healthy? Yeah, keep your hands down.) In general he provides good delivery and decent defensive cover, but he is in average match fitness, has a far too heavy touch, and sometimes drifts out of the game for long periods. I don't think we should sell him if we are going to keep with a winged 4-4-2 formation as he is a good reserve to an often injured player. But Marco has not seized his opportunities when given.
BEST MOMENT: Nearly completely changed the game with a great turn and long strike against Chelsea in London. Certainly not his best moment, but unfortunately I will remember his season for his heavy touches against Inter and Milan that could have killed the game...he was lucky against Roma that Riise left him completely unchallenged in similar circumstances.
SEBASTIAN GIOVINCO- 7.5: Instead of the “Magic Fairytale of the Atomic Ant” perhaps he could write a book “How SuperSeba was criminally underused in 2008-2009.” As many of you know, I generally supported Ranieri, but one of my main sticking points was why he didn't play Giovinco a lot. I still don't understand it. I can see concerns about his physical strength and being able to hold up the wings, but in every game after the first few months, Giovinco had a massive impact when playing. The only game I remember where he was average after November or so was the 2nd derby against Toro. He's obviously has no Cassanata issues, and everytime he played, we played better. I would love for someone to ask Ranieri and get an honest answer, I don't think it's that he had any personal beef against him or anything, Ranieri and Giovinco are both nice guys. The last thing I will say is that many attacking Ranieri for not playing Giovinco enough, a fair criticism, but many extended that to complaining Ranieri wasn't giving our youth a chance. In the last two years, Criscito, Nocerino, Chiellini, Molinaro, De Ceglie, Marchisio, and Sissoko, all young players got solid runs out. Some cut it, some haven't.
BEST MOMENT Either his 1v1 with Del Piero against Catania in the Coppa where there was a wonderful teacher-student embrace, or his goal against Lecce where he whipped in a free kick quite obviously with instruction from the master.
PAOLO DE CEGLIE- 7: Everytime De Ceglie played at left-mid, which was not often enough, he tore the other team apart. Given his pace and his excellent crossing, he provided fantastic service for the center-forwards. I'd like to see him play up there more, I think he could be a better winger than fullback, and Italy could really use a left-winger, we haven't had one in ages.
BEST MOMENT: The 4-2 Milan demolition derby where PDC tore apart Milan's right-flank, getting Zambrotta sent off and providing a perfect cross for a beastly Amauri header to give Juventus the lead. Close 2nd his cross against Lecce, came on as a substititute late on, and his first touch of the ball is an inch perfect cross again for Amauri who bangs it in late in the game to give Juventus the win, 2-1.
ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO- 7: Del Piero has really fallen off since Christmas time, like Amauri, but that shouldn't make us forget his unbelievable start to the season. Match-winning goal after match-winning goal, splendid free kicks, and a goal against Zenit, and 3 against Real Madrid to singlehandedly give us the group win. One of the best assists I've seen to Marchisio against Fiorentina, but other than that, he's been hot-or-cold. Needs to refind his shooting boots.
BEST MOMENT: Tough call...but I'm going to go with Del Piero's first goal against Real Madrid. Good long direct ball from Marchisio to Del Piero who dummies for Amauri. Amauri then turns and passes it back to Del Piero...with Casillsa coming a bit out of the goal and Blanco defenders hot on, Del Piero skewed pace for class. Top right corner, Casillas no chance. That was the shot heard round the world. Juve is back in the Champion's League, baby.
AMAURI- 7: Like Del Piero, Amauri has fallen way off the pace from his terrific start to his Juventus career. In the fall Amauri was singlehandedly saving our season, scoring something obscene like 11 goals in 17 games. Powerful in the air, skilled with the volley, he's a class forward. If only we could figure out what the hell stopped that dynamic duo. With Diego, Giovinco, Marchisio, Criscito, Camoranesi, and perhaps D'Agostino, he should get some mouthwatering service.
BEST MOMENT: Doppietta against Milan. Brazilians can samba too, Dinho.
VINCENZO IAQUINTA- 7: Yes, I'm aware I gave them all 7s, but I think it fits for the importance they each played in the campaign, with minus a few points for inconsistentcy. Iaquinta is the direct opposite of what happened to Amauri and Del Piero, he struggled for playing time in the first half of the season and had niggling injuries preventing him from expressing his best form. There were strong rumors that Roma or Zenit wanted him in January, but the Calabrian Cannon never wavered in his faith to the bianconeri. Once he shook the injuries.....well, he's been Serie A's form striker for the last 2-3 months or so. Let's hope he can keep this form going for the Confederation's Cup and then next season. After waiting his time on the bench, Juve has repaid his faith with a contract extension until 2013. Bravo, Vincenzo!
BEST MOMENT: Probably his goal against Milan, (see a trend here?) where he used all of his force to hold off Flamini, who was having a good game himself, and got himself in the right position to head it into the net. Vincenzo di forza!
DAVID TREZEGUET- 4: The player does not deserve the criticism for most of the rating, but the only “untouchable” of Ranieri's 2007-2008 team has been anything but this season. After undergoing double-knee surgery to prolong his career 4-5 years, David has never really been given a run out in the team, particularly after his poorly-timed outburst against Ranieri following his substitution against Chelsea. His poaching instinct is still there, he just needs to get a few games out. Obviously there have been very strong links to his departure, but one would hope with Ranieri gone, Trez will decide to stay. I think this'll be summer #6 of massive rumors about Trez leaving. The management's words have hardly helped things, either.
BEST MOMENT: There's been few...so I guess his goal against Palermo assisted by Amauri will have to suffice.
CLAUDIO RANIERI- 6: He had to go at the end of the season, no doubt, but with some average players in the squad (Poulsen, Tiago) and a hell of an injury crisis, he managed to do pretty well. In March, we were in the Coppa semis, 2nd place within striking distance of Inter, and the Champion's League round-of-16. Then it all came apart, quickly. My chief complaints with him was the way he never seemed to get pissed about poor performances, and some of his strange team selections, ie- not enough tinkering/rotating, and not playing Giovinco. Give him some credit for giving Marchisio a very good run out.
ALESSIO SECCO- 6: Amauri, Giovinco, Marchisio, Manninger, good. Mellberg, De Ceglie, average. Knezevic, Chimenti, Poulsen, fail.