Juventus were made to work for the one point in a clash against hosts Livorno. In Alberto Zaccheroni’s second match in charge, the Old Lady appeared toothless upfront and shaky at the back. The firing of Ciro Ferrara has not improved the performances while also not leading to a dramatic change in results.
The losses under Ferrara have been replaced with unsatisfactory draws again Lazio and Livorno. The new Coach Zaccheroni was able to alter the team’s formation to use a three-man defense with support from either flank by full-backs Martin Caceres and Fabio Grosso who would supply the cross for the attackers and revert to defensive roles to provide support for the three defenders in the back. The change appeared to be unconvincing considering the result and the performance of the Bianconeri players. The club started the season lacking a right-back and a left-back with the Old Lady’s error-prone management opting for Caceres and Grosso to bolster those positions. Both signings impressed in a couple of games but the majority of the time were found lacking and below the standards of the once proud club.
The Bianconeri started the season well but have collapsed since the humiliating defeat to Bayern Munich and the revival appears to be an elusive target if the current displays are to be the measuring stick. A change in the coaching staff was never going to be enough given the extent of the crisis engulfing one of Italy’s most prestigious sides. Roberto Bettega was brought in to aid the club’s management in resurrecting the squad and in all likelihood constructing a new one come summer time. The current set of players will not be able to move forward with Fabio Grosso, Fabio Cannavaro, Alessandro Del Piero and David Trezeguet all on the wrong side of 30. Experience is a great attribute but in this case Grosso and Cannavaro have been a liability resulting in tremendous pressure on both Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini.
In the attacking department, Del Piero and Trezeguet have missed a chunk of the season due to injury and the Frenchman is in fact still sidelined. Both could serve as valuable substitutes but the Old Lady can no longer rely heavily on some weary and old legs. The absence of Vincenzo Iaquinta has been quite detrimental with Brazilian Diego struggling to show any signs of compatibility with striker Amauri. The Brazilian forward’s condition has gone from bad to worse after Azzurri Coach Marcello Lippi hinted he will not be calling Amauri even if he gets his Italian passport in time.
It is such a dramatic fall from grace for a player who just at the beginning of last season was being hailed as the striker to knock in the goals for both Juventus and Italy. The sacked Ferrara and current Coach Zaccheroni have not give Amauri time off despite his struggles and this is ample evidence of the lack of options in Turin. One of the first signings for the next season should be a reliable striker who can guarantee at least 15 goals a season. This has given rise to speculation linking the Old Lady with a move for Sampdoria striker Giampaolo Pazzini.
Another area in desperate need of reinforcement is the defense where a capable centre-back needs to be signed to play alongside Chiellini as Cannavaro nears the end of his glittering career in disappointing fashion. Shockingly but perhaps unsurprisingly due to the inadequacies of the Bianconeri management there is speculation the club will be pursuing Caceres. The right-back who can also operate as a centre-back has not exactly impressed since his loan move from Barcelona. Obviously Barcelona would have kept the signing if they believed in his capabilities.
Finally the midfield is one area where Juventus have struggled mightily due to a plethora of injuries to several players and the disappointing performances of Felipe Melo. The Brazilian Melo is a shadow of the player who excelled with Fiorentina last season and who looks solid when representing Brazil. Unfortunately Melo chose to blame previous Coach Ferrara instead of letting his boots do the talking. Against Livorno, the midfielder was sent-off to leave his fellow players fighting to save a point instead of gunning for victory. Juventus ought to cut their losses and offload Melo while not taking the option to sign Caceres on a permanent basis.
The midfield will be much better once the injured Mauro Camoranesi and Claudio Marchisio return from the sidelines. In Mohamed Sissoko the Bianconeri have a player famous for his tireless running and aggressive tackling which renders Melo’s presence close to redundant. It is mind boggling how the club’s management signed Melo at such a high asking price despite having Sissoko. The Malian international is prone to injury but why not sell him before signing Melo or perhaps even bringing in Gaetano D’Agostino who was Ferrara’s preferred choice according to rumours early in the season.
Juventus will only emerge out of this crisis once the injured players such as Iaquinta, Camoranesi and Marchisio are able to play and give their valuable contribution. In the meantime, the club will continue to struggle and risk losing touch with the top four in Serie A. Inter are clearly out of the Bianconeri’s range but a third or even second place finish could not be ruled out given the number of matches still to be played. Unfortunately with the club appearing to lack confidence and providing scant evidence of the ability to grind results, the good days appear to be far away.