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Old Faces Return To Vinovo, One Hopefully Temporarily

At first light, the morning frost lay peaceful amidst the evergreen landscape surrounding Vinovo for the eighth straight day, until the reverberating sound of Del Neri’s whistle marked the beginning of the second half of the season and the end of the countryside’s tranquility. The holidays have concluded, now it’s time to get back to work in view of our next match against Giovinco’s Parma.

A little music to get the party started.

More than a week of inactivity can take a toll on an athlete’s cardio-vascular level, especially when their diets around the holidays aren’t exactly ideal. However there’ll be plenty of time to shake off the “rust” before January 6th. Speaking of rust, yesterday also marked the re-introduction of two familiar faces within the bianconeri camp as goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and forward Amauri returned to the practice pitch after their respective injuries.

The number one is back in black and white group, for the first time after back surgery. After months of physiotherapy and personal training this morning, Gigi has worked with Storari, Manninger and Constantine, the orders of the goalkeeper coach Claudio Filippi. Certainly not the ideal day for a return, with the fields of Vinovo whitened by the frost in the morning, the hard ground on the edge of ice and the thermometer at 11 degrees from -3 in the morning. But Buffon could not wait to come back, and worked tirelessly.

There’s something so calming about having Gigi between the sticks that definitely goes beyond his supernatural shot blocking abilities. Like many good goalkeepers he’s very vocal during the game, but Buffon has at least two other unique qualities that make him as great as he his. For one, he prefers to keep the game moving quickly and distributes short passes often to maintain possession, and two, he’s always got a huge smile on his face and treats everyone with humility and respect; just don’t mistaken his kindness for weakness.

Now of course we’ll have to see how the Superman-Storari-Manninger relationship plays out in the coming weeks as the winter silly-season officially opens on January 3rd, with Marco rumoured to be requesting first team football in 2011. While on the topic of transfer rumours, Amauri returned to the field this morning to work separately with a trainer in front of the eyes of Del Neri and Marotta, I believe the newest Gilardino-for-Amauri gossip now includes a cash transfer of €10 million.

The Amauri situation is disappointingly simple; he’s garbage. For a real shot at the Scudetto come April and May, there should be no questions about your prima punta scoring goals alongside others on your team. Take Milan’s Ibrahimovic for example who has nine goals thus far beside Robinho and Pato at six a piece. Or take Napoli’s Cavani who has ten goals already with Hamsik sitting at seven. Finally there’s Palermo’s Pastore and Ilicic, who are doing quite well with seven goals each.

My point is this, it would be foolish to think we should rely on Quagliarella to score goals like a machine, as he’s been doing, throughout all of next year and down the stretch to make up for an impotent prima punta. The term itself, ‘prima’ meaning first, and ‘punta’ meaning tip or point, describes how important that role is in a team’s attack. Translation, Juventus don’t have a valid first point of attack. We all saw the game against Fiorentina right? No one needs to talk about what happens when Krasic and Quagliarella are double-teamed (although I did here).

I know this point has been beaten to death by many a post and podcast, but Juventus truly needs a viable prima punta option ahead of Krasic and it looks like Iaquinta doesn’t fit the bill either. In short, if we don’t make a move for some kind of Amauri replacement in January, we shouldn’t be thinking about the Scudetto even if we’re atop the standings come February. The board’s objective will be clear; Champions League qualification. Not that there's anything wrong with that either. But if the opportunity presents itself for some kind of player swap or loan deal without breaking the bank this January, I'm sure Marotta will pull the trigger.

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