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February’s Monthly Juventus Thoughts: Oh the weather outside Is frightful...

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A short, wintery month of February comes to an end. Although we like to admire the snow falling from the heavens, it’s time to review the month of Juventus action!

Torino FC v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Here we are again: Thirteen goals scored, two goals conceded, four wins, and one draw. On paper, February was pretty good, but as with everything in life, the devil’s in the details. Fear ye not, my fellow Juventini, for I’m here to discuss those details with you in... detail?

Poor jokes and mild narcissism aside, let’s get to it.

Injuries, injuries, and ... tactics?

I’m pretty sure that the most frequently discussed themes on my monthly recaps are either me whining about the defense or me whining about injuries; so basically, a lot of me whining. Nevertheless, now that we seem to have recovered from our early season woes at the back, I have the honor of chatting about our injuries!

I love my job.

How ironic it is that after struggling to figure out how to chug all those wingers of ours into one lineup — the struggle was so real that we shipped one of them off to Germany — we now have so few wingers available that we have to play a left back as a winger! Speaking of which...

Juventus v Atalanta BC - TIM Cup
“You rang, sire?”
Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

God bless Brazilian fullbacks. Got a hole to plug on the forward wing? Yeah, just chug a Brazilian fullback there and you should be fine.

This double left back pivot on the left of Alex Sandro and Kwadwo Asamoah could be a fascinating tactical nuance for the team. This fun tactical ploy is not unheard of though: Laurent Blanc also used this setup —albeit unsuccessfully — against Spain in Euro 2012 while Unai Emery used this tactic to get the better of Pep Guardiola in the entertaining Valencia-Barcelona game in 2011. The latter case highlights a very particular element of this double left back pivot that could prove useful given equally particular circumstances.

By fielding a defensively-aware player on the left of midfield, you have a player who is comfortable tracking back to his own defensive line. — Michael Cox from Zonalmarking

Not rocket science, of course, but let’s explore this a little further.

Although I recognize that in this game Mathieu played left midfield instead of left wing, our new arrangement could prove useful defensively against teams that are strong on the (right) flank. That said, what we gain defensively we could just as well lose offensively. Despite Sandro’s offensive capacities, his natural inclinations are still defensive which means that by fielding such a player there, we place a disproportionate amount of offensive responsibility on Douglas Costa on the opposite wing. Hence, until Higuaín returns from injury, don’t be surprised to see a slightly lopsided offense from the Bianconeri.

Facebook, Amazon, and ... football?

A storm’s a brewin’ lads.

I’m sure that most of you heard the chatter that Facebook and Amazon have been lurking in the shadows and are supposedly waiting to pounce on the opportunity to secure broadcasting rights for Premier League games. Although nothing concrete has materialized at the moment, some people are worried (or optimistic, depending on who you ask) that new competition for broadcasting rights is on the horizon. This is made even more intriguing once you consider how flush with cash the tech giants are these days.

These concerns, however, are not limited to England. It seems that La Liga is also on the radar for this rumored transition from the traditional TV platform to the medium of online streaming.

Note: Netflix does not seem keen on live sports streaming for two reasons, i.e. exorbitant licensing costs and incompatibility with its core consumer brand proposition. Regarding the second point, Netflix’s core consumer proposition is that it is an on-demand platform. Live content is a deviation from its brand so on-demand sports wouldn’t be compelling.

First England, now Spain. I wonder, will Serie A also be a part of this paradigm shift? We’ve all heard the talk about the stagnating value of the league’s broadcasting deal so I wonder, could this changing landscape be beneficial or detrimental to Italian football? I leave it to you all to discuss, amici.

Manchester United v Liverpool - Premier League
Smile! Everybody’s watching!” — Jin (League of Legends)
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Blaise Matuidi: You’re the biggest part of me

Blaise Matuidi sure has become a (surprisingly) big and important part of the three-man Juventus midfield. And dear, oh dear was he sorely missed in midfield during his injury layoff.

(Beside me) Need your lovin’ here beside me

(To guide me) Keep it close enough to guide me

(Inside of me) From the fears that are inside of me

You’re the biggest part of me.

You’re the biggest part of me (Ambrosia)

Okay, maybe he isn’t quite the biggest part of our midfield — I think that honor is reserved for the bearded-wonder that is Miralem Pjanic — but the Frenchman has been one of the most surprisingly important players to Juventus since he arrived from Paris Saint-Germain in the summer. His contribution to the Juventus midfield reminded me of one of the most fundamentally important concepts in football, sport, and life in general: the importance of the collective.

(Stay the night) Need your lovin’ here beside me

(Shine the light) Need you close enough to guide me

You’re the biggest part of me (Ambrosia)

Why is that? Because Matuidi’s contribution has provided balance to our midfield. As an individual, I don’t find Matuidi an extraordinarily noteworthy player. He’s good at what he does but not great while his somewhat clumsy-looking demeanor on the ball (and while running) reminds me very much of my own lack of elegance on the pitch. However, his contribution to the collective and what he has enabled within the team has proven to be invaluable to the Bianconeri.

Football, as with all other teamsports, is about the collective.

This brings up a curious paradox in my mind. In a way, it’s never about the individual, but at the same time it’s always about the individual. The collective must always be greater than the individual such that no man is ever bigger than the team, but at the same time if you omit the individual’s contribution to the collective, the balance of the team is all out of synch.

The collective versus the individual; it’s an interesting battle. Whatever the case, I’m glad that a certain French individual has returned to give his all for the Black-and-White collective.

First Team: Juventus

Feb. 16 saw the release of the exciting, long-awaited Netflix docuseries ‘First Team: Juventus. Our Residing Emperor and Leader (no, not that one) Danny Penza was out of the blocks in seconds to give us his thoughts about the three episodes that were released to the public. Since Danny stole most of my thunder at lightning speed (gotta love overkill on metaphors) I’ll just share my favorite part of the first three episodes.

There’s a part in the third episode where the crew is interviewing Gigi Buffon and ask him to tell us a joke. (Note: I believe that this specific part was filmed for this video, but I’m not sure.) Buffon is about to tell a joke but, while laughing, stops and says “No, no no, I can’t tell that one. If I tell that one someone is going to get offended and it will be a whole drama!”

Juventus v Atalanta BC - Serie A
C’mon Gigi, your joke can’t be any worse than all this damn snow.
Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

I love this part because I can soooooo relate to this issue of self-censorship, especially in this day and age of hyper political correctness. I often want to tell jokes or make remarks that might come off as insensitive or politically incorrect (but are really quite funny) but then I think “Ah you know what, lemme just leave this to one side because there’s inevitably going to be that one person that is gonna get all wound up from this and then I’ll have a lawsuit to deal with.” Glad to see that Gigi faces similar struggles as I do.

All in all, they were three highly enjoyable episodes. Honestly, I always enjoy seeing and learning about the human beings behind the players we see every week on the pitch.

Hear ye, hear ye!

Quick bit of shameless self-promotion: if you’re interested in how I sound in real life, today is your lucky day! I was a guest on a podcast last week and I talked about a bit of my life story and what I do for work. So if you wanna hear my Barry White aphrodisiac of a voice and are curious about what I do when I’m not having nervous breakdowns because of penalty misses against English teams in the Champions League, check me out here!