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BWRAO Mailbag: Summer Blues

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We tackle a bunch of hypotethicals, because it’s mid-July and that’s all there is to tackle.

Juventus First Team Medical Tests Photo by Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

Due to a bet that I made with a friend of mine, I am now the proud owner of a new Juventus kit. Yes, the one without the stripes. Yes, I still don’t care.

Anyhow, included in that bet is that the kit must include a player personalization and a number, as well as all the Champions League badges and the Serie A champion badge — RIP Coppa Italia winners badge :( — the whole package.

Here’s the dilemma, though: I usually go for club legends, but since I already own a Giorgio Chiellini kit and there is really no other elder statesman in the club right now that I don’t already have a shirt for, it leaves me in a pickle. Especially since Juve are about to sign Cristian Romero, a guy whom I share a last name with! How can you not get your own last name on a kit when a guy with that same last name actually plays for the club! Sure, he might get loaned back to Genoa, but details.

Do I wait for the Mathijs De Ligt signing to become official? Do I get the traditional No. 10? But what if Paulo Dybala gets sold? Truly first world problems.

On to your letters.

With Maurizio Sarri joining, I would like to see a survey of how many of us would not mind playing like Napoli (exciting football to some) but also missing out like Napoli, as opposed to some Pragmatic football but winning things? – Munhumutapa

The classic style over substance debate, love it. On its face, this is a pretty easy response — you win, obviously you choose to win. There is never a scenario in which given the two choices and all things being equal you decide that you’d rather lose.

Poll

Take your pick...

This poll is closed

  • 46%
    Playing like Sarri’s Napoli, but not be a lock to win.
    (226 votes)
  • 53%
    Playing like Allegri’s Juve, and being pragmatic to ensure victory.
    (258 votes)
484 votes total Vote Now

However, there is something definitely romantic about those teams that played an enthralling, alluring brand of football but never managed to win the big one. The “Total Football” Dutch teams of the Johan Cryuff era are some of the most famous examples. Beloved by fans and critics alike, the “Mechanical Orange” will always be remembered on the pantheon of the greatest teams ever for the way they revolutionized the game and for the fact they could never win a World Cup in equal measures.

In fact you could argue some teams that never won a championship are remembered more and affected the game in a more significant way than a number of teams that did win. The NBA is a particularly great example of this, there’s a number of teams that never won the big one, but are still remembered and beloved. The “7 Seconds or Less” Phoenix Suns, the “We Believe” Golden State Warriors, the 2012 Orlando Magic that inadvertently laid the foundation for the way the game is played today. All great teams, none of them champs.

Juventus Training Session Photo by Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

As far as Juve goes, considering Max Allegri was fired essentially due to the idea that his brand of football had grown stale, there might be a segment of people who would sacrifice some measure of success for aesthetically pleasing gameplay. After all, the one thing you could never fault Allegri for was winning; He never won less than two trophies in a season, which is frankly just ridiculous.

And considering Sarri’s track record, regardless of how the season unfolds, it sure won’t be boring, I’ll tell you that. For the way they impacted the game, those Napoli squads probably deserved at least one title. Plus, what a story would that be! A former lawyer rising through the ranks to lead a historic team marred in mediocrity, giving the big bad Juventus a run for their money with a bunch of castoff players and finally bringing glory back to southern Italy.

That’s a Disney movie right there if I’ve ever seen one! Alas, it didn’t happen, but one can dream.

What formation should Juventus play under Sarri to get the most out of the forwards? 4-3-3 with Dybala as the false 9, 4-3-1-2 with Dybala as the #10, or 4-3-3 with no Dybala? -Christian

As discussed previously, it is the official stance of the mailbag that Paulo Dybala should, nay, has to be allowed to cook. So we are already discarding option No. 3 straight away.

Dybala showed flashes deployed as the player in the hole in the No. 10 position that you mention. Still, he never quite showed enough to merit a full time transition into that attacking midfielder role. Coupled with the fact that Sarri plays, almost exclusively, a 4-3-3 formation, makes it hard to fathom that Dybala will get a lot of run in that setup.

That leaves us with a 4-3-3 and Dybala playing as a false 9, which I quite like to be honest. Dybala has thrived as a seconda punta before, coupling well with more physical and ball dominant strikers that clog up the attention of the defenders, leaving him with more room to operate. A ball dominant striker coupled with a shifty-skilled attacker? Well, where have I heard that before!

Sarri’s Napoli excelled under similar circumstances. Pairing Gonzalo Higuain with Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon, the Partenopei feasted on defenses, displaying some of the most thrilling attacking football that Serie A has seen in the last decade. With all due respect to the previously mentioned players, all very talented in their own right, but if Sarri accomplished what he did with those guys it’s exciting to think what we could see with Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala, Douglas Costa and Federico Bernardeschi. All of them more talented than the Napoli players or at the very least just as talented. This is a make or break year for Dybala and he will be put in the best position to succeed. All he has to do is go out and ball. I have faith in my large adult son.

Who do you think is the best hang in the Juventus squad? - Sahil

I posited this question as an example of a fun, not necessarily football related question for the mailbag. And then, my guy, Sahil actually asked it because he thought it was a fun hypothetical question not necessarily football related therefore proving great minds think alike.

Let’s get to it, first some ground rules:

  • Language barriers don’t matter; we all speak a universal language for the sake of the question. Like, I dunno, Dothraki or something.
  • “Good Hang” here is defined as a person you would have a fun time regardless of the circumstances of said hang. So, for this exercise you would have to have a good time with the person at a fancy nightclub, a dive bar or just playing FIFA. Sure, I bet hanging with Cristiano Ronaldo in an Ibiza yacht is a blast but how much fun would he be on a lazy afternoon?
  • Only taking into account all the players currently on the senior squad as of July 10th of the year of our Lord 2019. So, sorry, Mathijs De Ligt still doesn’t factor in and Gonzalo Higuain does. (Yes, I’m already assuming De Ligt is a Juve player, sue me)
  • Since I obviously don’t know any of these guys I will go through this highly scientific experiment based on their public comments, social media posts and general vibe.
  • This is only my opinion as a 26 year old male living in a large city with my own certain likes and dislikes. Obviously, this would change depending on age, location, gender and what you like to do or don’t. But since this is my mailbag the opinion’s here displayed are the only correct, true and logical conclusions. I’m sorry, I wish things were different but they ain’t. Them’s the breaks.

Let’s group the lads into tiers, from least to most likely to be good hangs.

The “Oh, that wasn’t a joke? / Awkward Silence” tier

Leonardo Bonucci, Adrien Rabiot and Gonzalo Higuain.

There is no indication either Bonucci or Rabiot are good hangs, both have had their off the field issues and have a bit of a reputation as tough personalities for a locker room. Higuain makes this group because despite not having that reputation, his whole current Juventus situation is a bummer for everyone involved.

The “Far too intimidating” tier

Mario Mandzukic and Wojciech Szczesny

A key part of a hang is to be at ease with the person you are hanging out with. And as much as Mandzu is a beloved figure a relaxed dude he probably is not. Szczesny is in this category just because there is zero chance I could correctly pronounce his name, so that’s already a problem.

The “Far too good looking” tier

Emre Can and Sami Khedira

Similar logic as the aforementioned group, different reasons. Imagine waking up after a night of poor decision making and a few too many drinks, the type of nights where you end up crashing at your buddy’s place and waking up in the couch looking like crap and feeling worse. Only craving something greasy with unexplained restorative qualities and maybe a beer because, you know, hair of the dog. Imagine that moment and having to do that morning ritual with freaking Can or Khedira? How unbelievably terrible you would look by comparison alone? Nope.

The “Guys I legit have no handle of” tier

Aaron Ramsey, Blaise Matuidi, Alex Sandro, Mattia De Sciglio and Juan Cuadrado.

They might be good guys for all I know, but well yeah, for all I know. Not huge social media accounts and can’t really figure out much of their personalities from interviews or statements. Cuadrado likes dancing, I think. Not much else I can gather.

The “Cristiano Ronaldo” tier

Cristiano Ronaldo

I just can’t quite imagine that hanging out with Cristiano Ronaldo is a super chill experience. I also can’t imagine hanging out with Cristiano Ronaldo being a bad experience just out of sheer curiosity. How and what is the life of one of the most famous and rich people in the world? I could see this going a million different ways, so it settles neatly in the middle of the pack.

The “Mellow Adults” tier

Miralem Pjanic and Giorgio Chiellini

Both around the same age, both with a wealth of experince and with the general vibe of relaxed dudes on their day to day life. I could 100% have a couple of espressos with Giorgio or Mire and just ask them about stuff. Like an older brother type of guy, that sounds like a good hang if you ask me.

The “Young Guys” tier

Daniele Rugani, Merih Demiral, Luca Pellegrini, Joao Cancelo and Moise Kean

Here is where it starts to get fun. Bunch of young guys out and about, painting the town with disposable income and a not insignificant amount of fame. That sounds FUN. But, as my recent history suggests, I just can’t hang with young dudes anymore.

I’m, as the kids say, extremely washed. I could probably keep up a couple weekends, tops, before having to sleep for a month straight to recover.

The “Backup Keepers” tier

Mattia Perin and Carlo Pinsoglio

Who knows what will happen to Perin with the arrival of Gigi Buffon — more on him in a second — but backup goalkeepers have to be a fun hang. They just have to, that’s over half of the job description. When you are on the bench for the vast majority of the season, your biggest contribution outside of the training pitch is just being a gregarious guy to hang out with on the substitute’s bench.

Take a look at this guy:

Even if Woj’s joke was terrible, look at the guy laughing away. That’s an outstanding backup keeper. I would hang out with Carlo Pinsoglio, for sure.

And now, the top 4 guys I think would be the most fun to hang out with:

4 - 3. Douglas Costa and Paulo Dybala

From their social media accounts, it’s tough to say who would be the better hang, so I just decided to put them together, because I get why they are friends outside of the locker room as well.

Their entire social media footprint is them playing video games, playing football and attending cool events. That just seems like a good time all around. Douglas Costa scores a ton of points just on this picture alone:

View this post on Instagram

Na casa do cara @stephencurry30

A post shared by ⚡️DC11⚡️ (@douglascosta) on

Costa using his considerable wealth and fame to get seats at the NBA finals is exactly the type of stuff I would be doing all the time.

2. Gianluigi Buffon

Talk about a guy who has been through it all, lived through it all and done it all. How fascinating would it be to pick Gigi’s thoughts apart? The whole Calciopoli rollercoaster stories alone would be worth it.

1. Federico Bernardeschi

Peep the white suit.

View this post on Instagram

Family time ❤️

A post shared by Federico Bernardeschi (@fbernardeschi) on

Check out the good boys.

hahahaha, he just looks so happy to be in Disneyland. Yes, I stand by my call. Federico Bernardeschi is probably the best hang in Juventus squad.

The Mailbag is open. Send your questions at BWRAOmailbag@gmail.com or write them in the comments, to get featured.