For all the pessimism about "average" transfers we made this summer, we're starting to see Delneri and Marotta's vision for Juve, this year. Above all is the team unity and passion, this team fights hard together, and celebrates together, most obviously displayed in Quagliarella's goal where the teammates called everyone to the corner flag to celebrate. We might not have a world-class player in each position, but between the Juve spirit of grinta, and the unity given by Delneri's tactics, we can compete with the best in the world on this form.
Obviously, I'm extremely pleased with what we're seeing right now. The scorelines, the enthusiasm, the desire to win reminds me of the beginning of the 2007-2008 season. We had crushing victories like 5-1 over Livorno, or 5-0 over Palermo to announce our return, but also some nailbiting entertaining encounters like our 3-2 victory against Cagliari, which we replicated (1 better!) just a few weeks ago. We started the season with a fairly drab 1-0 loss to Bari, and then the floodgates opened on both ends. We all wondered whether the scoring or conceding would dry up first, and Delneri's hard work drilling tactics into the squad seem to be paying off.
This isn't to say we're out of the woods, not by a long shot. There's much work to do, but I can say as I said this summer, this team can qualify for the Champion's League. It may not be a Scudetto-winning team, but that's not our aim right now. We wanted a younger, hungrier, aggressive team with a fine tactician, and that's what we have. Regarding the Scudetto, it is a dream. I do not want the team to focus on it, I like the way we are flying under the radar right now. If we come to late March, and are still in contention, that is when we talk about it. But it is too soon, there is much work to be done. (It reminds me of the NFL Baltimore Ravens in 2000. Their coach banned them from talking about the playoffs, and the team subsequently referred to it as "Festivus." They ended up winning the Super Bowl, or "Festivus Maximus.")
So no more talk of the Scudetto. It remains a pipe dream, as far as I'm concerned, but we can see that this team is certainly a contender for automatic qualification to the Champion's League.
Storari: 7- The sign of a great keeper is not necessarily if he can make a string of super-saves, but if he can be decisive when it's most important. Storari made a brilliant save at 1-0, preventing Lecce from getting into the game. While I think we would have won even if they scored, Storari came up big in the one real chance they had.
Grygera: 6- With Krasic ahead of him, it removes a lot of offensive responsibility from Grygera, and it allows him to play simple, to play defense. It's no coincidence that Krasic's emergence has come at the same time as Grygera's started putting in solid shifts at fullback.
Chiellini: 6.5- Keyser Giorgio gave no quarter to any of Lecce's strikers.
Bonucci: 6- Looked a little too casual at moments, but another clean sheet and another good relationship-building performance with Chiellini. Looks like they are improving day-by-day.
De Ceglie: 6- Like Grygera, De Ceglie wasn't too troubled as Lecce didn't really attack down the wings. Got forward, had a few good crosses in the 1st half, but otherwise a pretty quiet game.
Anyone with photoshop skills, please take the above picture and make it into this with "Welcome to Torino"
Krasic: 8- Blimey, this guy is sensational, and he's only 25 years old. Looking more and more like the goddamn buy of the summer, whether Serie A or all of Europe. I thought Krasic would be a great signing, but he's looking beyond great. What is that, 2-3 assists yesterday?
Aquilani: 7- Stepped in and displayed all his quality, very much displaying the player he was at Roma. Technical quality, simple and difficult passing with ease, and a lovely long-range effort to open the scoring.
Felipe Melo: 7- Freed from any kind of playmaking responsibility, Melo is able to do what he does best. Win back the ball, and pass it to someone else. I've mentioned several times that Felipe also has an eye for an occasional great pass, and he shows that too. Maybe when he's not pressured to be a playmaker is when he can actually be one.
Marchisio: 7- Played again as a central-midfielder-slash-winger, in which he occasionally advanced down the wing, other times drifted centrally to help Aquilani and Melo. Excellent performance, and on the wing he's allowed to display a few tricks here and there. I still don't like him outside, though.
Quagliarella: 6- Drifts out wide and deep, given a lot of tactical license. His cross, albeit not a particularly good one, led to Aquilani's opening goal, and then with a diving header, scored Juve's 3rd in the 1st half to kill the game. Why did he score it with a diving header when a simple tap-in could have sufficed? Because he's Quags, damnit. If he makes it harder, it becomes easier.
Amauri: 5.5- Good build-up play, but again doesn't seem to have the ruthless streak to score freely. With Dzeko's shadow looming, he needs to get into form or his position as "foreign bomber who (supposedly) scores lots of goals with some skill involved" will be replaced. Fouled a lot, and caught offside in a relatively mediocre performance.
Delneri: 7.5- Everything worked well, the defense, the midfield, the offense. Cannot complain about how the coach had the team organized.
Del Piero: 10- Grazie per tutti i gol, Alex.
Things I Think I Think:
#1- Foreshadowing: Roberto titled his preview "All About The Quality." Lecce didn't have any.
#2- Tactics, tactics, tactics: In theory, Delneri played a 4-4-2 and will always play a 4-4-2, but for large portions of the match this was simply not the case. In reality, between Krasic shifting flanks and attacking the middle, it could easily be interpreted as a 4-3-1-2, with Marchisio drifting central and Krasic as the trequartista. Hard to argue it didn't work.
#3- Delneri this summer: "Del Piero is the charismatic captain of Juventus but for the future I'm thinking of Marchisio. Marchiso's an important element, a central midfielder, not a wide man. He's young, he has the right temperament, I like him." Gah. Where did that go to?
#4- Melo's cucchaio: He bet his father he'd do it. Aquilani teased him he wouldn't be able to. A cucchaio shows incredible confidence, perhaps bordering on cockiness or hubris, but it shows Melo is full of it at the moment. In so many ways.
#5- Perfect way to leave the international break: I was a bit worried that some of our positive momentum going into the international break might be robbed, but we were raring to go from minute one. We didn't look rusty at all, looked tactically
#6- Another clean sheet: Forget the 4-0 drubbings, every clean sheet we get is going to boost the confidence of players like Grygera, De Ceglie, and Bonucci, all who need it. That's two in a row, Red Bull Salzburg are a poor team and we should really aim for another clean sheet there, regardless of how many goals might come.
#7- Red Bull Salzburg on Thursday: Lecce are a team "without quality." So are Red Bull Salzburg, who have lost 2-0 to Lech Poznan (at home) and 2-0 to Manchester City. We have Bologna coming up this weekend, so Delneri should use this time to experiment. Maybe using Pepe as a fullback, ahem ahem?
#8- Missed the game? Watch it on YouTube, narrated by Claudio Zuliani.
#9- Beyond the Pitch, the best damn podcast out there managed to snag an interview with Diego. He says some very kind words about Juventus, and also drops a big hint about Dzeko. (Those "Juventus fans hounding us about how much they liked you" that Anthony mentions could have been me. I may have sent them a lot of messages about it.) Absolutely worth a listen, it's about 10 minutes or so, go czech it out. (Grygera/Nedved groan)
C'E UNA STELLA IN CIELO CHE INDICA IL CAMMINO, FORZA JUVE VINCERE E IL TUO DESTINO!