Jul 18, 2010

ReJUVEnated, again!!

By Gautam Sharma

Is there any particular direction to the startegy of this new Juve? Or are they rebuilding for disaster yet again, like last summer? After some consideration, it looks like there may be some method to the madness this time... but something is still missing....

New Management: Lets start with the management, compared to last summer... I don't think anyone will doubt that Agnelli-Marotta-Del Neri inspires much more confidence than Blanc-Secco-Ciro did (or ever will be capable of). Agnelli has a legacy to live up to, and that pride, tradition and genetic code has a certain value and charm associated with it. Marotta has a proven track record that suggests that he is as wise as Secco was foolish. And Del Neri has experience and relative success as a coach which Ciro could not benefit from... From this point of view, Juve have taken a huge leap forward....

Tactical Transformation: Next, lets spend a minute on Del Neri's prefered tactics.... his track record suggests preference to 442 with strong focus on wingers in attack and defence. How does that impact some of Juve's key "stars", Diego in particular? Normally Del Neri's formation does not accomadate such a player, but he has in past used trequartista's like Cassano and Doni well. He can easily adjust his 442 into a 4411 or a 4231 and make it work. But one gap in Juve that Del Neri had to address to make his formation work was the lack of wingers...

Transfers so far: That brings us to the transfer campaign so far. Bonucci, Motta, Pepe, Martinez, Storari and Lanzafame. You can see what they are trying to do, with their new management in charge... they are going for the next generation of Azzurri talent, filling their squad with players of decent potential. This probably represents the "vision" of Agnelli, implemented by Marotta, responding to specific positional/tactical requests by Del Neri. Pepe is probably the perfect example of how this new triad works... Agnelli defined the vision as the traditional Juve preference for "Italian and Young", Del Neri requested for wingers, and Marotta identified a target which met these criteria and closed the deal.

TTT Applied: But how effective have the transfers been so far, specifically in relation to 2010-11 season scudetto campaign? I am going to put this Squad through my "Two Team Test", or TTT if you let me indulge. I have often found that the best way to analyse the strength of a squad is to form two teams out of it, in the formation (or formations) that will be used by the coach. The best squads will demonstrate a strong "First XI" and a perfect like-to-like harmony between the two teams. Lets see how Juve measures up in a 4231, and maybe identify the gaps, if any:

First XI:
Motta - Chiellini - Bonucci - Grosso
Melo - Marchisio
Pepe - Diego - Martinez
Second XI:
Salihamidzic - Grygera - Legrotaglie - De Ceglie
Sissoko - Poulsen
Camoranesi - Ekdal - Del Piero
Others: Manninger, Lanzafame, Trezeguat. Assuming that Giovinco and Tiago will be sold off, as is expected.
1. Is the First XI strong enough?? It seems to be still at least 2-3 top players away from being considered strong enough to win the scudetto. The fullbacks are relatively weak, and the wingers unproven at this level. Also, there do not seem to be enough goals in this First XI, which is an old issue Juve haven't addressed yet. At the moment this First XI looks good enough to make the top 3-4, but not good enough to win.
2. Is there perfect like-2-like harmony between the two teams? The first problem you immediately identify (hopefully not just coz I have coloured it in red) is the lack of quality CB back up. Compared to Inter, where we have Chivu, Cordoba and Materazzi/Burdisso as back up CBs, Legrotaglie & Grygera do not inspire the same confidence. Back up CB's are probably the most key element of a top club's bench. Juve need at least 1 top CB. The positions where I do see "harmony" are GK (Storari move was a masterpiece by Marotta), defensive midfield, and striker. The defence and the attacking part of the midfield has serious back up issues.
Recommendation: I believe Juve would need about 4 top players to seriously challenge Inter (assuming Inter play like last season, which is by no means certain - but thats another story). 1 top Centre Back, 1 quality FullBack, 1 top Winger, and a Striker. The striker so that Del Neri has the option to drop Diego and play 442 at times, which I suspect he may need to. Which players would I suggest?
CenterBack: Ranocchia (expected price = 12-15m)
FullBack: Van der Wiel (expected price = 12-15m)
Winger: Vargas (expected price = 18-20m)
Striker: Forlan (expected price = 15m)
I know Juve are linked to Barzagli, but instead of an average old CB, Juve would be better off going after another young talent. Ranocchia would be a better idea, and not just coz he formed such a great partnership with Bonucci last season. As as FB, Juve are linked with Bale - Van der Wiel would be slighty the better option. Also, most likely Juve are bringing in Krasic in midfield - I would suggest Vargas instead, he would be a guarantee for Del Neri on the wing, and also partly address the "goal's issue" in the First XI. And instead of the apparently targeted Dzeko, perhaps Forlan would represent better quality at lower price. Also, Forlan has more to his game, can play second striker, and is a better guarantee for goals.
TTT Applied again: Lets see how Juventus with these suggested 4 players looks on the TTT:
First XI:
Van der Wiel- Chiellini - Ranocchia - Grosso
Melo - Marchisio
Iaquinta - Diego - Vargas
Second XI:
Motta - Bonucci - Legrotaglie - De Ceglie
Sissoko - Poulsen
Pepe - Del Piero - Martinez
Now that looks like a squad with a first XI who can challenge the best, and a depth with good "harmony" and quality. So Juve are about 60-65m away from being as competitive as Inter. Whether they will spend as much, or look for cheaper alternatives is anyones guess. Sometimes its wiser to spend the extra 20-30m and get assured quality, than risk a season worth 100s of millions...
Over the next few weeks, I will apply the "TTT" and more to some other squads across Europe... so do tune in, and post yr comments....


Indra Mahardika said...

But why Juve want to signed Storari ? He is old, and I think Manninger is better than him. Manninger played well in the last 2 season when he replaced Buffon

Bluenine said...


Yeah, Manninger has played well for sure. But Buffon is definately out for a while, and Manninger's fitness is uncertain. Storari on the other hand was one of the best keepers in Serie A last season at Doria, and I suspect Del Neri feels very comfortable with him. Juve got him cheap, so its a good "fix" in the short term...