As the old (and very tired) cliché goes, the transfer window has slammed shut. Juventus did most of its business at the start of the window, but left some surprising deals for the last two or three days.
At the same time, the 2022-23 season also started in the middle of the month. While the men’s team is hoping to finally return to the pinnacle of Italian and European football, the women’s team aims to continue its undisputed dominance of the Serie A Femminile and build on its fantastic run to the quarter final of last season’s Champions League.
It’s a new season with new players and new dreams. Let’s see how things went in the month that passed.
Back in action
August began in disastrous fashion as Juventus were hammered 4-0 by Atlético Madrid in the final friendly of the summer thanks to a hat trick by former-former Bianconeri striker Álvaro Morata and a Matheus Cunha goal. It was a game that made everyone wonder whether the 2022-23 season was just going to be the same s**tty results, just in a different year.
Thankfully, the first competitive game of the season (temporarily) dispelled those fears. Summer signing Ángel Di Maria put in a masterclass of a performance to score the first goal and assist the third in the comprehensive 3-0 home victory over Sassuolo.
Dusan Vlahovic scored the other two goals (one of which a penalty) as he started the season the same way he ended the last one: scoring goals. A fantastic performance that gave Juventini hope that maybe, just maybe, this season might be different.
But you know what they say: what goes up must come down. As good as the performance was against Sassuolo, it was dire and uninspired in the next one against Sampdoria. It ended goalless as the Bianconeri lost all the momentum and positive energy it had from the victory against Sassuolo.
The first big game of the season was (already!) upon us on Matchday 3. Paulo Dybala and his new employer, AS Roma, came to town to face Juventus at the Allianz Stadium. Max Allegri’s men played one of the best first halves (and early second half) in a long, long time as they completely dominated Roma. Vlahovic scored his third goal in as many games this season with a cracking direct free kick in the second minute.
It was such a masterful performance that even Jose Mourinho “felt ashamed of being their [Roma’s] coach” and admitted that his team should have conceded more goals by half time.
But as is often the case with Juventus, the team paid for its inability to finish the opposition off. In what was effectively his and Roma’s only real chance of the game, a deep corner came to Dybala, who acrobatically crossed (shot?) to Tammy Abraham. The Englishman headed the ball into the net from a few yards out for the equalizer and the game’s final goal. A frustrating draw and another two points dropped early in the season.
Juventus welcomed Spezia to the Allianz Stadium for the final game of the month. Just like in the previous game, Vlahovic scored early through another stunning free kick. But unlike in the previous game, Juventus got progressively worse after scoring the goal. In fact, Spezia were largely the better side and probably deserved at least one goal.
But football is a cruel game and, despite sustained pressure on the Juventus defense and a decent number of chances throughout the game, Spezia conceded another goal in second half stoppage time. New signing Arkadiusz Milik scored the crucial goal to secure the three points and a hard-fought 2-0 victory.
Juventus Women started the season with the ever-confusing first qualifying round/mini-tournament of the UEFA Champions League. Joe Montemurro’s team easily beat Racing Union of Luxembourg 4-0 thanks to goals from Martina Rosucci, Cristiana Girelli, Arianna Caruso, and Agnese Bonfantini.
The Bianconere progressed to the next round after beating Qiryat Gat of Israel 3-1 at home. Sofia Cantore opened the scoring in the 35th minute and Annahita Zamanian scored the team’s second early in the second half. Although Dany Helena of Qiryat Gat halved the deficit and made things a little nervous for Juventus, Caruso made sure of the victory with a goal in the final minute of the game.
Juventus then faced promoted side Como in the first game of the league campaign. Unfortunately for the newcomers, it was a rude awakening to the realities of football in the top division. Girelli scored a first-half hat trick to put Juventus 3-0 up before Lisa Boattin added another early in the second half and new signing Lineth Beerenstyn scored her first two goals for Juventus. Final score: 6-0.
Kids these days...
Fabio Miretti is one of the most-discussed Juve players in the squad today. And that’s not because of his bizarre haircut.
His progress in the last few months has been absolutely spectacular. While his first few appearances at the end of last season were a pleasant surprise, we all knew that he only got playing time because the team had nothing to play for at that point of the season. But the matches now are “for real” and his performances have matched the seriousness of the occasion.
He has been a breath of fresh air in a team that has become more and more stale with each passing year. He’s energetic, continually tries to move the ball forward, and, unlike most youngster looking to impress, doesn’t try too hard and doesn’t try anything fancy or complicated. To reference a comment that Sam made in a recent podcast episode, one of the most encouraging aspects about Miretti is that he hasn’t looked out of place in the Juve squad at all.
But if there’s one thing that epitomizes today’s era, it’s that we’re far too keen to jump to conclusions based on a small sample size*. We think that after four good games, a player could be/is the “greatest ever player” of the domestic league. We arrogantly believe that just because a significant event happens in our lifetime, that it’s automatically (in contention for) the best, worst, craziest, or most impactful in human history.
Well, let me bring everyone’s feet firmly back to planet Earth before the Artemis I rocket takes you and your hopes about Fabio Miretti to the moon. He has only played 542 minutes for Juventus so far in his entire senior career. There’s the real danger that we might push him too hard, expect too much of him too soon, or demand Ballon D’Or performances of him every matchday.
*This refers to a concept called “the Law of Small Numbers”, which is a term I first learned about in Daniel Kahneman’s best-selling book Thinking, Fast and Slow. Specifically, it’s the erroneous belief that the “Law of Large Numbers” also applies to a small sample size.
So while I believe he has earned his place in the starting lineup based on his performances so far, I’m also staying realistic. He hasn’t made it yet and, as fans, we should be careful not to act like he already has. He has the potential to be something truly phenomenal but he could also collapse under the extraordinary pressure that professional footballers face these days. It’s a fine line.
“It’s a funny thing, ambition. It can take one to sublime heights or harrowing depths. And sometimes they are one and the same.”
— Emily Kaldwin from the game Dishonored
Juventus wrapped up the summer transfer window with a few surprising signings and a few other near-misses. Here’s what happened last month:
- Adrien Rabiot almost, almost joined Manchester United but he/his mother got too greedy when negotiating his salary. Even Manchester United have limits, Adrien...
- Juventus then almost signed my compatriot Memphis Depay but, depending on which reports you believe, his salary demands were either too high or Juventus suddenly remembered they were broke and couldn’t afford his salary.
- Instead, we signed the mighty Arkadiusz Milik on loan with an option to buy from Marseille.
- Long-time writer Hunter Sharpless rejoined the Black & White & Read All Over team
after signing a contract for perpetuity and offering his soul to the team. Bentornato Hunter!
- Juventus missed out on Italian-Nigerian Udinese wing-back Destiny Udogie, who joined our old friends Antonio Conte and Fabio Paratici at Tottenham Hotspur instead.
- Highly-rated youngster Nicolo Fagioli extended his contract with Juventus through 2026.
- The biggest surprises came in the last few days. Despite barely giving him a chance to shine, Juventus offloaded Denis Zakaria to Chelsea on loan with the option to buy. Meanwhile, thanks to the injury crisis at Liverpool, the much-maligned Arthur Melo got himself a loan deal to Jurgen Klopp’s team for one season.
- In case you were wondering, the English Premier League has a stupid amount of money to spend. English clubs accounted for roughly 1 out of every 2 pounds sterling spent across Europe’s top five leagues and spent more than Italian, French and Spanish clubs combined. Mo money? No problems.
- Last but not least, Juventus completed the expected loan transfer of Leandro Paredes from PSG and sent (the other Nicolo) Rovella to Monza on a season-long loan. So many loan deals!
A slap on the wrist?
Not only is Juventus broke, but we’re also not following financial rules. Along with fellow Serie A teams Inter, Milan, and Roma, UEFA fined the Bianconeri for failing to comply with Financial Fair Play rules. The fine is a mere (?) €23 million but the important detail is that only €3.5 million of it must be paid immediately; the rest is a suspended fine that will activate if we break the rules again. Other clubs that were fined were PSG, Monaco, and Besiktas.
Financial Fair Play is an odd thing. While the intent generally seems good, there was always the nagging feeling that it came two decades late and that, at the moment, it does more harm than good by rewarding the rich and punishing the poor. And let’s be real: FFP is simply not taken seriously. The rules have been changed so much that you wonder what the point of keeping them even is.
But, despite my background in economics, I’m just some guy on the internet. There’s a lot I don’t understand, so I’m careful not to jump to wild conclusions. Still, I can’t help but wonder if top-level football has become, and will remain to be, a playground of the rich where the rules only favor the richest clubs in the world. So much for football being the game of the common man.
Shout out to my cousin Dipo Akinyemi who is, at the time of writing, the top scorer of the Scottish Championship with seven goals in six games for Ayr United!