Since beating Inter 2-1, Juventus have lost their two most important matches against Bayern Munich and Milan by the staggering scores of 1-4 and 0-3 respectively. The result against the Bavarians eliminated the Old Lady from the Champions League while the loss to the Rossoneri effectively ended Juve’s chances of winning the Serie A title barring any miraculous events in the next few months. Those two heavy defeats confirmed the defensive frailties of the Old Lady and once again showed only Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini have kept Juventus alive in several Serie A and European games. Buffon has saved the day on multiple occasions when Juve was winning games early in the season while Azzurri centre-back Chiellini has established himself as one of Italy’s and Europe’s best defenders.
Fabio Grosso has failed to impress since joining from Lyon while Fabio Cannavaro was let go by Real Madrid because he is no longer the star player who used to be able to carry the defense on his back. In fact, Cannavaro is a shadow of the Azzurri captain who capably led la Nazionale to triumph in Germany 2006 with his great leadership skills and assured displayed on the pitch. The centre-back’s performances this season have been highlighted by uncertainty, a plethora of errors and declining physical presence. Chiellini has had to compensate for Cannavaro’s decline by doubling his efforts.
In midfield and attack injuries have ravaged the side with Mauro Camoranesi, Claudio Marchisio and Vincenzo Iaquinta all getting sidelined when they were performing at their very best. Camoranesi was scoring goals and creating others when he went down injured while Marchisio underwent surgery just as he was putting in some of the best performances of his younger career and Iaquinta was scoring on a regular basis when he got injured. Obviously the injuries have not helped but at a club of Juve’s stature such events cannot be used to excuse the sorry run which the Bianconeri have been going through. What makes matters even worse is the fact against Chievo the players of Juventus barely mustered a shot of any nature on target.
The reason behind Juve’s fall from grace cannot be attributed to one factor or even two. The first couple of reasons are obviously the defensive weaknesses and the injuries discussed above (as even Alessandro Del Piero has missed a lot of time because of injury) but there are a number of other factors such as Pavel Nedved’s retirement, the aging of key players such as Del Piero and David Trezeguet, the struggles of striker Amauri, and the misuse of certain players such as Brazilian signings Diego and Felipe Melo. In addition, the Coach Ferrara is inexperienced and does not have the necessary repertoire to manage such an elite side let alone having to deal with such dramatic events. Finally, the management of the Turin club was itself suffering due to its lack of experience as shown by director Alessio Secco who has brought in some of the biggest flops in Juventus history such as Portuguese Tiago and Danish midfielder Christian Poulsen.
The return of Roberto Bettega in the role of deputy director-general at Juventus is the biggest hint yet of the board’s failure. In a matter of days Bettega was able to offload two flops in the form of Tiago and Cristian Molinaro albeit both left on loan. Juve were not able to move either player for the past couple of years which is a sign of how incompetent the management has become. The tifosi will be hoping Bettega will be given more freedom to help steady the ship in Turin.
Going back to Nedved, the retirement of the Czech star greatly hurt the team balance and the Bianonceri’s leadership failed miserably there since they should have convinced him to stay for another season to help Ferrara with the transition. Juve have yet to replace Nedved on the pitch while his mere presence at training would have pushed the younger players to try harder and the new signings to blend in easier.
The Brazilian duo Diego and Melo have failed to impress but it does appear Ferrara has misused those two players on many occasions. Ferrara’s tactics have lacked purpose and the team does not play as a unit while also failing to create enough opportunities for the forwards. Ferrara may still be in charge but it does appear as if he has lost the respect and attentiveness of his players. For Juve to get over this crisis they need to replace Ferrara with a capable coach who can stamp his authority, get his message through and properly implement his tactics.
Ferrara has failed to get the best out of Amauri while a brief look at Milan shows how successful Coach Leonardo has been in helping Ronaldinho resurrect his career. Leonardo has yet to establish himself yet he proved he can stick with his ideas and achieve results just as seen against Real Madrid and Juventus. On the other hand, Juve have no identity, are struggling all over the pitch and the age of some of the veterans is not helping either. Ferrara was expected to gradually blend in the younger players such as Sebastian Giovinco yet he did not display the necessary confidence in the greatly talented youngster. Perhaps Juve’s board thought they are going to get a tactician in Josep Guardiola’s mold but they obviously did not succeed in their choice.
Ferrara has failed to bring out the best in Diego while Felipe Melo has struggled mightily under the rookie Coach following a stellar season with Fiorentina. The main difference between Melo of last season and the current one? Melo was under the guidance of the charismatic and shrewd Coach Cesare Prandelli who was clever enough to extenuate the Brazilian’s deficiencies by properly using him on the pitch. Ferrara has failed because Juve are out of Europe and will not win Serie A, but the question remains how long will he be in charge in Turin?
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