Tag Archives: serie a

January calling, so what do you need Juventus?

Not many Juventus fans even in their wildest of dreams foreseen the kind of impact Antonio Conte would have at Juventus, at the start of the season.  Cut over to the festive period and Juventus are in a dog fight not for Champions League places but in a race for the Scudetto, at joint top in the standings, still to lose a game in the league.

The summer gone by was a vital time for Juventus, for it was a club trying to get back to its lost glory and several names were brought in to begin afresh after the disappointments of the last couple of seasons, the likes of Stephan Lichtsteiner, Arturo Vidal, the play making genius Andrea Pirlo and none more important than Conte himself who vision for a Juventus of old is seemingly heading for fruition. However, with a few holes still to cover and the impending Financial Fair Play(FFP) regulations coming into effect next summer, January is going to be a busy period for the Bianconeri. So who could Juventus buy in January?

In the current Juventus setup, if there is one area of immediate concern for the club, it is the left back situation. Paolo de Ceglie doesn’t quite seem cut out for the role after having returned from his injury which has resulted in arguably Italy’s best centre half Giorgio Chiellini being played as a left back. Not that the system hasn’t worked, but playing your best defender out of his natural position is not a long term solution. Sevilla’s Martin Caceres is the odd’s on favourite to be brought in for the role, albeit on loan or a permanent deal,  for his second spell at the club. The Uruguayan’s previous spell was quite eventful and the ambidextrous fullback still enjoys popular support among the Juventus faithful and would be heartily welcomed back to put Juventus out of it’s left back paradox and as a valuable add on, he would also provide an alternative to Lichsteiner should the marauding Swiss fullback ever need a rest.

Could Caceres’ return resolve the fullback paradox?

Staying with the defensive side of things, another name linked with the Bianconeri lately has been that of German international center back Mats Hummels, not that Juventus urgently need a centre half, but Hummels could prove to be a vital cog in the Juventus machinery should Conte wish to predominantly use Chiellini as a leftback and not as a central figure in defence. Hummels has only recently stated his feeling of being honoured about Juventus’ interest in him. Should a move be made for the German, it would be a long term solution  but would come at quite a steep cost.

The cheaper alternatives to a potential center half signing would that of the Brazilian pair- Rhodolfo and Alex. The former was continually linked with Juve during the summer and is rated as one of the best center backs playing his trade in Brazil, while the latter is much more established in Europe and currently on the transfer list at Chelsea after having falling out with his manager Andre Villas-Boas and would certainly play no more part for the Londoners.

The need for a center back is not immediate and certainly is not a pressing concern for the Bianconeri but a cut price deal for Alex especially who is quite experienced in Europe could be in the offing and one that would provide a vital and experienced alternative in the Juventus backline as well as the room for maneuvering to Conte.

In central midfield, Juventus has some of the best players in all of Europe with summer signing of Andrea Pirlo proving to be a master stroke and fellow new arrival Arturo Vidal adding the much needed bite and tenacity to the midfield. To complete the trio, Claudio Marchisio has sounded his arrival as one of the best players in Italy. However, the situation around the backup of the trio is more dodgy, currently only Michele Pazienza and youngster Luca Marrone serve as back up and at a club where three in midfield is a norm an addition should be vital for a title push.

Time to get your big move Montolivo?

The rarely accurate and widely off the mark rumour mill has linked Juventus with two midfield players in particular – Angelo Palombo and Riccardo Montolivo. Both are quality and both would be heavily involved in the first team action should a move be made but one potential hinderence for Palombo could be his reluctance to leave Sampdoria. He stayed loyal to them despite relegation last season and a big bid and contract could be needed to turn his tide towards Turin.

Montolivo meanwhile is not only a more viable option but also a more long term one. The Italian international would be available on a free in the summer and with no maneuvering available to Fiorentina his price would be low. In midfield, Montolivo would be a good alternative to Pirlo with his passing range and would with equal ease fit alongside him and the quartet in midfield would essentially be base on which Juventus’ success shall be built.

And finally, in terms of the attacking options, this ‘mercato’ might finally see the end of the much derided Amauri in Turin and former Italian internationals Iaquinta and Luca Toni both seem headed for the exit door as well, while Quagliarella’s fate hangs in the balance. Quite naturally Juventus would be interested in acquiring reinforcements to shore up their attack. Man City’s Carlos Tevez was briefly linked and would have been a key mix of creativity and finishing ability to lead the Juventus attack but with  the Argentine seemingly headed rivals Milan, Juventus seem to have their sight set on Roma’s Marco Borriello. How Boriello would be an improvent over the current options at Juventus is baffling but as the reports suggest, he might be the closest to signing for Juventus.

The season has gone rather well for the Bianconeri thus far, better than what most would have imagined and a few key additions in the January mercato could help give Juventus the vital push towards elusive Scudetto.

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Football Matters Part II: Beyond the pale, the money game and the mercenaries

Author’s Note: This is the second installment of the ‘Football Matters’ series, you can read the first part ‘Two colors inside and the divisions outside’ here.

Football and mercenaries, two terms that sound unrelated and should actually be unrelated, but aren’t. The ever increasing money revolution across various parts of Europe that has seen more and more clubs being taken over by business oligarchs has seen modern football take a new meaning, where money defines how it’s run, not as a sport but more as a business.

There are two iterations valid in most cases today: Footballers = mercenaries or mercenaries = footballers, in either case money is the common denominator, not loyalty or love for the game or the club you play for. There was a time, not too long ago, when loyal and one-club men used to dominate Football all around the world. Longevity used to be a factor and the players would love to play it out at the club they loved, to be called legends at the club which to them was be-all and end-all, for money wasn’t as important as staying true to your roots and staying with the club that you’ve loved all so much, for they were as much a part of a club’s legacy as the club was definitive in making their own identity.

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Football Matters Part I: Two colors inside and the divisions outside

Football matters, indeed it does, to you, to me and to millions of other fans around the world and to the players who play it day in day out. And what’s also certain is that there are football matters that continue to haunt the very basis of modern football, none more so than the one in question here.

Football, without doubt, is the most watched and followed around sport in the world in this day and age. There are kids around the world who would sacrifice their studies just to have a few extra hours of playing it and then there would be ‘adults’ who would refuse to get going with their normal lives should their favorite team lose a match. Yup, football is a common denominator that strings millions of distinct individuals from around the world. For some it’s passion to be following the sport, for some others it is a religion that they live by and for a distinct few it is a matter of even more- for whom football is a feeling that can’t be explained but they spend their lives explaining it.

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Big Match Breakdown: Juventus 2-0 Milan: Marchisio double sinks the champions in Turin

Juventus

  • Marchisio 86,90

2 – 0

AC Milan

  • Boateng s/o 89

The match had been tipped as one between the two sides that shall contend for the title this season, and despite the fact that the match might not have a decisive impact in the larger scheme of things, the anxiety before the game was for all to see, and it was a game that saw Milan’s prodigal son Andrea Pirlo(and also Alessandro Matri) play against his old team while as many as 6 Milan players- Abbiati, Zambrotta, Ibrahimovic, Nocerino, Aquilani and Inzaghi faced their old employers. Th clash was billed to be heavy duty and it was exactly that, but the result was just like the match had been, heavily one sided where in Juventus dominated Milan for large parts of the game with the ‘grinta’ that had been missing in the Juventus camp in the previous seasons now evident for all to see.

As for the match itself, Juventus came out aggressively right from the get go in a match that was the first realistic test of their title credentials and to reverse the trend of consecutive Milan victories on their home turf. The match began at a frantic pace, with both Milan and Juventus trying to seize the initiative but it was Bianconero Stefan Lichtsteiner who was the first to fire a shot at goal and Abbiati barely managed to turn it over before Abbiati denied Pirlo off a free kick just before the half hour mark.

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Serie A roundup: Juventus & Napoli dominant, Milan rusty while Roma & Inter bite the dust!

The much awaited Serie A season finally began at the weekend, couple of weeks later than originally scheduled due to a player’s strike and the subsequent international break. It was the champions AC Milan who kicked off the new campaign but had to settle for a 2-2 draw with Rome based Lazio.

Calcio Returns!

Elsewhere, there was enthusiasm and a massive sense of joy in Turin as Juventus welcomed Parma to their newly inaugurated stadium for the first game of the season.

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Juventus: In the Shadow of Greatness of the Immortal Gaetano Scirea

Football, a sport in which the result of a match hinges entirely on the number of goals that a team scores and yet as the popular saying goes, that while striker might win you games, it is the defenders that win you the titles and the trophies. And when it comes to the defensive side of football- it’s all about Italy and their long line of fabled defenders. Hence, it is anything but surprising that the greatest defender the world has ever seen came from the land of the greatest defense in football- the Italian peninsula.

Still in his shadow of greatness?

The name? Gaetano Scirea, a legend so great that he’s been revered for generations and his shadow of greatness touched upon nearly every Italian defender who has since donned the colours of the ‘La Nazionale’, so much so that Paolo Maldini, a legend in his own right, grew up idolizing Scirea. As a player, he was as calm and collected as they came, yet so incredibly talented and strong in the challenges that the best of forwards would wish to avoid playing against him. What made him even better was his affection for fellow players, never wished anyone any ill luck or made any rash tackles like his partner Claudio Gentile. There was a reason why he was arguably the football’s greatest gentleman. He lived for Juventus, loyal to the core, fighting and giving it his all on the pitch, and he achieved some astounding results too. But it was on this sad day, September-03, that he died 22 years ago in an unforgettable tragedy just months after his retirement. He died just as he had lived, for Juventus, as he became a victim of a car crash in Poland while scouting Juventus’ opponents for a UEFA Cup match.
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Player Co-ownerships and how they work in Italian Football.

There has been for long a sense of bewilderment among people from outside the Calcio circles about the co-ownership of players, very prevalent in Italy’s Serie-A, actually work. The recent blooper by Bologna’s Director General Stefano Pedrelli during the blind auction to settle the co-ownership of Italian NT’s no.2 goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano has served to bring back a bit of limelight on the confusing rules regarding co-ownerships in Italy.

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