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The Debut of Diego: Juventus triumph over uninspired Bari

The 3-0 performance against Bari was one of the better ones this squad has played this season, alongside the 3-1 victory over Roma. To be fair though, Bari hasn't traveled well and having avoided relegation, their team looked relatively unmotivated in Torino. What was the key behind this victory? It was the same old 4-3-1-2....but we played it right. Full review after the jump.

Diego roasting Almiron

As I mentioned in this post from a few weeks ago, the key to unlocking Diego's performance two fold: being able to play around him, and providing better targets. The second is simple, players like Iaquinta (or Trezeguet) who make runs and try and beat the offside trap are far better for Diego to slide those beautiful through-balls to. Iaquinta was injured most of this season, and Amauri doesn't move. Why didn't his potential show as much with Trezeguet? Because of the first reason.

To get the most out of Diego, we need to be able to bypass him. That means a seconda punta, two fullbacks who actually contribute offensively, and a few midfielders that can pass. Over much of the season, Grosso and Grygera/Zebina did zilch up top giving no width, and Sissoko-Melo can't pass. Del Piero took quite a while to get into form as well, two prima puntas doesn't work well for Diego and when ADP was in poor form, it didn't help alleviate the pressure either. In the game against Roma that defined what could be, Grygera and De Ceglie put in some good crosses for Amauri, Iaquinta, and Tiago headers. Iaquinta was making wonderful runs (one nearly a golden goal-scoring chance, the other led to Diego's 2nd goal) and our midfield was composed of Marchisio, Melo, and Tiago, two of which are decent passers, and Melo actually was playing smart.

How does this affect the future? Well, Zebina, Grosso, and Grygera are not adequate starting fullbacks. Caceres, Criscito, and De Ceglie are all far more offensively skilled. In midfield, we need some players like Candreva, Marchisio, Poulsen, and less one-dimensional players like Melo or Sissoko. In attack, we need to sell Amauri, a 4-3-1-2 doesn't suit him. (though neither does the 4-4-2, or any formation on God's earth) Assuming we did manage to sell Amauri, Pazzini would be a great performance. I've been advocating for his signing for some time, he has poaching skill, he's good in the air, and he's not slow. But enough about Diego! Onto the highlights and player ratings!


Buffon: 7- Three terrific saves. A lesser person might have bitched out Zebina for his awful, awful own-goal attempt, but Gigi is a great keeper...and a better man.

Zebina: 5- A nervous looking performance. Buffon and the rest of the defense looked assured, but he messed up simple passes. Defended alright other than an awful near own-goal, but contributed little to the attack.
Chiellini: 7- Again, an absolute colossus in the center. Broke up counter-attacks, nullified Bari's strikers, and as always, was a serious goal threat up top as well.
Cannavaro: 6.5- After last week's derby, another composed and solid performance from Fabio. It infuriates me, though, it seems that his awful form in the middle of the season may have been a case of not giving a damn. Look at it this way- after playing relatively poor at Real Madrid, had he played bad when he first joined Juventus, he mighta been dropped for the Nazionale. If he started well and played like crap the whole season, likewise. Starting the season great and ending it well means his Nazionale position is assured. He doesn't care about Juventus....surprise, surprise.
De Ceglie: 6.5- Pleased to see him get the nod over Grosso. The left-back had to be fairly pacey this game, otherwise Alvarez would have torn them apart, so PDC was a smart choice. He did very well to contain Alvarez, and had some nice crosses and offensive plays, nearly got two assists. I'm telling you- this kid needs to play.

One of these two I'd like to see in Turin next year...take a guess which one.

Marchisio: 6.5- Controlled the midfield excellently in the first half, Massimo Donati had very little impact on the game. Another great all-around midfield performance from the new Tardelli.
Poulsen: 6- A simple and tidy performance. Shielded the defense, and displayed some nice smart passes that Felipe Melo and Sissoko can't accomplish. He might not have as powerful games as Melo and Sissoko when they are in form, but he plays consistent, and discrete. (Oh, and I know I've said this before, but despite abuse from the fans, and the management saying GTFO, he's been a model professional. Not locking Blanc in the bathroom or giving the 'ole vaffanculo to the fans)
Camoranesi: 5- A bad game. Juve's poor season seems to be wearing on his temperament. He was lucky against Cagliari not to get sent off for an elbow, and against Bari he could have been sent off as well. Needs to calm down a lot.

Diego: 7.5- A spectacular performance from Diego, one of his better ones at Juventus, above I mentioned why I believe his skill was unlocked. Promising.

Del Piero: 6.5- Worked hard up top and nearly scored a brace with a header and a penalty.
Amauri: 4- Another worthless performance.

ADP looked to be physically in very good condition yesterday, he was running fast and hard.

Zaccheroni: 6- The team was organized pretty well from the start of the game, and the substitutions of Candreva and Iaquinta were dead on as Amauri and Camoranesi were having terrible games. One question remains- why didn't they start?
Candreva: 6.5- Very strong cameo. Passed well, defended, an all-around midfield performance and a class assist for Iaquinta's 2nd goal.
Iaquinta: 7- Looked determined after a few crap games. Pacey, strong, it is good to have him back. He offers a different dimension to Amauri, Trezeguet, and Del Piero. Trez is a poacher though he's a bit more static, Del Piero is creative, Iaquinta is fast and strong, and Amauri is awful.

"I can't believe I, a Juventino, just may have given Inter another title."

Things I Think I Think:

#1- De Ceglie needs continuity! I thought Paolo put in a great shift at left-back against Bari. Alvarez is not an easy customer, particularly given his ridiculous pace, yet PDC had him locked up and managed to venture up forward a bit, he could have had 2 assists. Zac preferred him a while ago to Grosso, then he played a bit poorly and Grosso had a great game and PDC was benched. As I said earlier, there is really little reason for Grosso to be played- he's old, he's not going to improve, and he's not that much of an improvement over PDC right now. Both have left gaps at the back, and conceded goals. If we play PDC, worst case scenario, his market value rises a bit and we sell him. At best, we have our left-back spot covered for the next decade. Where's the loss?

#1a- Addendum: Some will claim De Ceglie is too defensively inept for the position, and that's quite possibly true. The same was said about Cassani and Zambrotta at a young age, we managed to stick with, the other one we sold on. (and probably shouldn't have) It won't happen overnight or in one season in fact, but if this kid learns to play solid defense in the next 2 years give or take, he'll be one of the best fullbacks in Serie A.

De Ceglie is pained that he does not get more playing time.

#2- Diego needs a passing midfield: I already mentioned this above, and then in the player ratings, but it bears repeating. When forwards make runs, and Sissoko and Melo (hereby known as Chuckles and the Clown, you pick which is which) are not on the pitch, he looks a lot better. Poulsen is having a very solid, yet understated role in the team and he deserves more playing time as well.

#3- The priority is still defense, defense, defense: Zebina, Cannavaro, and Grygera are stopgap measures. We FINALLY got a clean sheet, thanks mostly to Buffon, but I'm still not remotely satisfied. Personally, I'd sign a young Italian CB (Rannochia, Bonucci, Bocchetti, what have you) and a reserve...if we're broke, recall Ariaudo, otherwise I've stated I like Lucchini. (Assuming Samp would let him go...depends where they finish) I'd sign Criscito and sell Grosso, and let the two young primavera products battle it out for that LB position. Ideally, I'd start matchday one like this: Criscito/PDC, Chiellini, Legrottaglie, Caceres.

Don't make this mistake again.

#4- You'll note I started Legrottaglie over Ranocchia or whoever we end up signing. That is not by mistake. I firmly believe that if we sign a young Italian CB, it would be a mistake to start him from the bat. Legrottaglie is a competent player, and next year should be aimed at transitioning him to a reserve, and bringing that player into the first team. The consequences of throwing the kid to the wolves is disastrous, Legrottaglie himself (while not young) ran into that himself. Several bad games, his morale plummeted, he got benched, morale further plummeted, and then he got loaned out and we figured he was done for. Same more or less happened with Criscito. Legrottaglie should be first choice much of the fall, but the young Italian CB, whoever he may be, SHOULD be playing. The point is to transition, not pull a Giovinco and let him rot on the bench. Rotate him in, start him in midweek games (if we're in Europe) and let him grow, build his confidence, etc. This is extremely important in my mind, and particularly if we go for Bonucci or Ranocchia who only have 1 Serie A season under their belt. Talented, but bad performances could very quickly destroy their confidence in the media pressure cooker that is Juventus.

#5- Amauri needs to go, ASAP. His form has gotten worse and worse as the season has gone on, and it is clear that it will be incredibly difficult for him to get himself out of this funk. (sporting and at this point psychological) In the last few months, he's been utter rubbish in every game he's played. And while of course the 4-3-1-2 isn't ideal for him, per se, he's been like this for a year and a half now. Would he go back to the Rosanero? I think so, I think they'd accept him back, the sticking point would be the price. (Anything 12.5mil or more, I say we take) Perhaps we should all cheer on Palermo for that 4th Champion's League spot, so we can sell them Palermo and then raid Sampdoria for Lucchini and Pazzini?

#6- Should we reorganize our offense a bit, we should sell Amauri and sign Pazzini as I said earlier. Ideally, our starting forwards would be a seconda punta, personally I say let Gio play and ADP be his substitute/reserve, and a prima punta that would be filled by Pazzini. Iaquinta, when not troubled by physical problems, is a great supersub and would be a great reserve to give Pazzini the day off. I still think Trezeguet has all the poaching talent in the world, and if we didn't get Pazzini or didn't want to spend on offense, I'd have no qualms about starting him. If we do get Pazzini...Trez has gotta make a decision. If we're not in Europe, his playing time is going to be very, very low.

Getting back into form right at the right time.

#7- How do you solve a problem like Almiron? We briefly talked about this earlier, and I'm considering more and more about giving him a 2nd chance if he's down for it. He's a great playmaker, a regista, and he's quite possibly been Bari's player of the season thus far vying with Gillet and Bonucci. In the Juve-Bari game, I think there's no doubt he was Bari's best player on the pitch. It's very hard to definitively say one way or another on his character- some might say he can't handle a big club, and that may be true, but given how few starts he got at Juve, I don't think you can make a fair judgment one way or another. If he can perform like he is doing at Bari, there's no doubt in my mind that we should bring him back. If we decide against it, it's ok, Bari wants to sign him and Almiron wants to stay in Puglia. (Note to Secco: Should you sign a defender, after failing with playmakers in Almiron, Tiago, Xabi Alonso, and D'Agostino, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, do NOT buy another mediano. We've signed 4 in the last 3 years, and we've got 3 in the squad. Enough already!)

Both of these players deserve a second season in Torino.

#8- Straight from the horses mouth: “I am part-owned by Genoa and Juventus. It's up to those two clubs to decide my future. I would like to return to the Bianconeri and play my cards again. No one expected such a disappointing season for Juve, but I think they will be back sooner than you think. But I must say that I like being here at Genoa, and a permanent move here would be welcome as well." Music to my ears. There was a lot of rumors that Criscito was still angry at Juve about his experiences from a few season ago, but not so. All Bettega really needs to do is call Criscito, tell him the club believes in him, and he'll be making the short trip back north to Torino. A couple weeks ago, I said for Italian youth, Juve will always be Juve and thus a big attraction. Bonucci said it'd be a "dream" to play for Juve, and while we know he's an Interista, that and Criscito's comments just go to show that even in a shit season, we still have plenty of allure.

#9- How much of a stud is Marchisio? Struggling with a muscle injury this week, and puts in a great performance. Luckily, he has confirmed there is no damage and he went down with a bad cramp, was subbed off for that reason (Oh hey there Zaccheroni, sub the injured players first) but is feeling fine. Good news.

#10- I thought Ranieri had balls of steel subbing off Totti and De Rossi in the midpoint of the derby, but against Samp, he demonstrated even bigger coglioni, IMO. The Ranieri we knew and loved (?) would have always played for the draw, but he made some risky subs and had his team playing all out attack. I look at Roma, how he makes timely and smart substitutions, lets Menez play, actually shows some kind of courage, and say, where the hell was that Claudio at Juve?

#11- Team Eats: Orecchiette alla carbonara. Mmm.

The Juventus Offside Shitlist:

-Amauri: (11 Weeks) Currently ahead of such illustrious players like Chimenti, tied with Grygera. Anyone else have the feeling Grygera will get off the list before Amauri?
-Chimenti: (10 Weeks)
-Felipe Melo: (8 Weeks)
-Grosso: (6 Weeks)
-Grygera: (11 Weeks) Like Chimenti, not likely to get a chance to prove himself anytime soon so he may become a fixture.
-Sissoko: (1 Week) Braindead move to get sent off and doom Juve's chances of getting any points out of the game.
-Zaccheroni: Team was well organized tactically and his subs were smart. Two questions though: will Melo and Sissoko be back next week, and why didn't Iaquinta/Candreva start?
-Zebina: (6 Weeks) Near-own goal maintains his spot on the list.

I think that post was long enough, so that is all for today, ladies and gentlemen.