Buona Pasqua a tutti! I say that now, as I am out of town for the holiday weekend, and have a little bit of time to get through this week's preview. If I can bang out some more stuff later on, I will. But to play it safe, I've decided to get this out while I have a few minutes today. I have full intentions of blogging previews as independent posts, while keeping anything else news or comment-worthy separate. But for now, I've decided to cram everything into one entry for today. If this turns out to be the worst preview ever, please accept my apologies. But know that I'll end up blaming it on the Holiday anyway.
In all honesty, not bad, Bepe. From what little I have read, both players are pretty highly rated, and it's never a bad thing to have too many options in the primavera at your disposal . The focus on youth has been a priority under the new management. Sure these two aren't Italian, but I'm a firm believer that increasing competition from foreigners forces the homegrown players to compete more, against a more diverse set of competition, and ultimately improve more than they would otherwise. Both are teenagers and according to reports have EU Passports, so we won't have to worry about quota issues. However, a word of caution: It's being reported as a done deal, although no official announcement has been made yet. What could possibly go wrong?
And now, onto Sicily...
Apparently, the last time Juventus beat Catania at home was when Winston and Julia were dodging Big Brother Hellas Verona won the Serie A title, all the way back in 1984. Good thing that we're at home this week. Until you consider the fact that Juventus have conceded 25 goals at home this season.
Bad news first, this time:
4 was clearly too much to ask. And as Vonnegut said, so it goes. Surely this will kickstart a new negative cycle of drab draws and heartwrenching losses to provincial clubs that would be sneezed at during the Capello era. Right?
Or maybe not. Maybe when I think about it, I can pretend that I'm not completely Italian cynical, and find something to be optimistic about. Maybe I can try to look for positives out of last week's outcome and bring it into this weekend. Maybe this is good news. If you think about it, there was no way that this team would finish the season with 9 wins in a row, right? If you are familiar with the NFL, you can't possibly think that it would be good for the Jets to beat the Patriots twice during the regular season because hey, when they meet in the playoffs there's absolutely NO way they're going 3-0 against them. Right? The same principal applies here. Juve had to break the cycle, eventually and what better place than away in Florence? 1 point is better than 0. After all, Aaron is completely right: in the post-Prandelli era, Fiorentina is the new Torino.
The rest of the good news:
Capitano del futuro. Chiellini's back! Well, maybe. He's been practicing again, and could be included in the starting lineup. Let's hope so, because in a season characterized by defensive inconsistency, one thing that brings me calm is Jack Daniels and the thought of Chiellini anchoring our backline for the foreseeable future. Sure, there are complaints that he's not a leader, he isn't boisterous enough, and doesn't rally teammates and organize the backline well, yada yada yada. Maybe this has some truth, although I suspect it's overexaggerated. Maybe leadership will come to him with age. He's not exactly wet behind the ears any longer, but Italians are typically late bloomers, be it by their own personal development or a product of the Calcio system. But the fact remains is that he's class, pure and simple. When we were bleeding goals from the wings, moving him out to the left temporarily plugged that hole. Although it predictably opened another one up in the center, this example underscores how important Giorgio is to this team. We're much better off we are with him in the lineup.
ADP, easy as 4-3-3...or 4-4-2. So the 4-3-3 that I fell madly in love with enjoyed as a reasonable temporary answer proved to not ALWAYS work ALL the time. I know it's not the end-all, be-all, and I knew it wouldn't be the magic bullet to salvage the season. I've said it before, tactics have to be permeable, not rigid. A good team has to be able to change tactics and formations depending on the situation and squad available. The 4-3-3 worked for various different reasons for a couple of weeks, and flopped last week. For the past few weeks though, something had to be done considering the personnel available. This week we don't have that problem with the current Capitano back. Look for a straight up 4-4-2, with Del Piero and Matri up top. And Krasic repeatedly running into brick walls 4-5 Catania playes at a time behind them on the right side.
Molto Motta! The guy played twice in the past three weeks. The first time, he played well for the 25 minutes he was on the pitch. Last week he played reasonably well, containing Vargas. I've been crapping on him the entire time. Coincidence? Yes. But even though I don't have a susperstitious bone in my body, I' m going to keep going with this. Motta, you suck. Now keep making me look like I know even less about calcio than I actually do. There's a reason that not too long ago you were thought of as one of the most promising young fullbacks in Italy.
Pasquale o Luigi?
This may be a bit of a stretch, but since he's been appointed, I've always found a striking resemblance between Eggbert and Mister Delneri. Maybe it's the glasses, maybe it's the egg-shaped features, I don't know. But what I do know is that it's Easter weekend, and you can't have Easter without eggs. I like this omen. I'm reaching. But hey, I'm also continuing to mock Marco Motta in hopes that by some Karmic force that I can't wrap my logic-appreciating brain around, it will somehow make him play well. It's your weekend, Gigi. Seize it!
Probable, possible, fine, the best that we can assemble lineup, 4-4-2: Buffon; Grosso, Chiellini Barzagli, Bonucci, Motta; Marchisio, Melo, Aquilani, Krasic; Del Piero, Matri.
PS, Fabio Grosso -- take a hint.