Club Features

Mutterings in black and white on the road to Vilnius…

August 15, 2017 - 8:16 pm

Many, myself included, were left with that same feeling of unexpected despondency from the first hour of the Supercoppa match against Lazio as we felt for the second half of the Champions League final. We witnessed the same complete absence of fluidity, cohesion and organisation. Yet this time there were no amusing then bothersome rumours of controversy at half time, of the Alves pig taking a pop at Dybala. No…the angst this time around has been flung almost solely at Allegri.  The more extreme of which, I do not find amusing, just ignorant, disrespectful and brattish like a spoiled kid accustomed to having everything they want served up on a silver platter. Why such a spiteful if not merely passionate stance? Precisely because Max has led us to three league titles on the trot, two champions league finals, three coppa italias and one supercoppa…in three seasons. This is a superb return by any reasonable measures.

Still, I am not at all positioning myself to suggest we should be pleased, encouraged, anything less than unhappy after witnessing the lethargic, at times clueless capitulation from Sunday. Yet rather than wail, I prefer to focus on discussing our issues, how they might be remedied and hoping to inspire in turn your own opinions. Which I seek far more readily than agreement with my own. I learn and grow only through finding my views mistaken or unearthing something new…

Time for a change…Great going forward, yet too weak defensively without Bonucci.

The major issue last year was our central midfield area. Marchisio was out of sorts and not trusted (or ready) to play often from the start or consecutive games. He was our only squad member anywhere near a natural DM who can sit in front of the defence – regista style – affect tempo, funnel and recycle the ball, screen the defence. Yes, Rincon was signed late on, but for the fringes. Some might suggest Sami can do this job. I disagree on that score. His game is offensively focused. He lacks the pace and defensive zeal to be a holding midfielder. His instinct is to attack. Get forward at every opportunity. His only defensive value is through using his physicality.

Pjanic is another very offensive minded player. He is no natural tackler, marker or hustler and of diminutive physical form. He prospered at Roma with not just one, but often two hard working, brutish CMs in close attendance.

The 4-2-3-1 masked this problem with the midfield. Mandzukic basically played as a CML/LM and whilst of no natural defensive talent, his work rate, monstrous size and willingness to fight for the cause made him fairly useful especially in terms of helping block direct runners to our rear third. Alves and Cuadrado were able to stretch teams, mainly who hadn’t caught onto our still very weak centre. Which was hardened often through Big Leo stepping up. And Dybala dropping ever deeper to become a truly roaming far and wide trequartista. 

Still, when we played teams who flooded the central area with runners, we often struggled. Higuain was left high and dry, well away from the action. Yet the combined talents of our attacking strengths were enough to put most teams to the sword, and as mentioned – for any foe to pass through the Pjanic/Khedira axis of fluff there was Big Leo roaring and charging out, if not already acting as the fulcrum to the side.

Leo has gone. His value of a ball playing CB able to step out with the ball at his feet from the back to start attacks as well as read the play superbly has not been replaced. I have little faith in Benatia, who has never impressed me and I find it hard to fathom why we signed him. Rugani seems ready, he has the eagerness, experience at the club and in the league and he is swift, careful and capable. Barzagli could still be fine there, though is slow, as is the Kaiser. Not enough pace to play them both. Which means Rugani or Benatia…Or De Vrij if we somehow manage to sign him.

The most annoying transfer rumour for me is that of Spinazzola. I very much like the idea of bringing home the former primavera star. He is italian, young enough to further improve and had a fine season with Atalanta. Yet he excelled, from what I saw, mainly as a left midfielder/winger. Far more comfortable linking the play in the middle and high up the field than as a defender. I am not a great fan of stats, yet refer quickly to a comparison of defensive measures from whoscored-

Asamoah – 1.7 tackles, 1.4 interceptions, clearances 1.3, won 0.9 headers, lost 0.4 headers, unsuccessful touches 1.1, dispossessed 1.2

Spinazzola0.9 tackles, 1 interception. Clearances 1, won 0.4 headers, lost 0.5 headers, unsuccessful touches 1.4, dispossessed 1.3

(all stats are per game average)

I always focus first and foremost on defensive ability when judging defenders. Asamoah is stronger in every defensive measure I have seen with my own eyes, and the stats seem to agree. In short, I believe that to replace Asamoah with Spinazzola weakens the side defensively. (I am certainly aware that others have likely seen a lot more of Leonardo than myself and will hopefully assuage my concerns?)

However, some might be suggesting he will be signed to play as a wide midfielder? Or winger? In which case he will be competing directly with Bernardeschi, Costa, Pjaca, Mandzukic, perhaps even Keita and Dybala. Depending on what formation we adopt.

Mattia ‘la bestia’ Caldara…

No, the one player we needed to retrieve from Atalanta earlier than scheduled was/is the monstrous Caldara. Yet there has been barely any mention of this by the club, fans or most commentators. He is nowhere near as valuable on the ball as Big Leo, but he is a beastly defender who is a constant, highly capable menace to opponents at both ends of the field.

At right back the club now have De Sciglio who I hope becomes a starter and is given the chance to regain his form and blossom. There is also Pol Lirola to consider, which is perhaps why the club have hesitated to spend a fair chunk of gold on Cancelo or any other (presently speaking), for we might have a ready made replacement for Lichtsteiner next Summer.

Stephan, as with Asamoah, receives too much abuse and misguided criticism. Both were far from atrocious for every minute they played last season. The latter especially proving more than merely competent on many occasions. It’s just a sign of the times. One person on twitter makes a comment, others follow and repeat, then it spreads and people fight each other to repeat the same latest ‘thought’. Mass hysteria in the virtual realm…It is not just that I feel they are both competent back-ups (in Asamoah’s case he could also revive as a box to box CM), it is their experience, professionalism and black and white DNA that I am loathe to lose so easily and simultaneously. We need players at the club who know what it means to be a juventino. Real life is not FIFA; the hearts, minds, spirits and souls of the players truly matter. A forward who scores 30 goals at one team will not automatically be the same player at another team. Relationships and club culture are of huge importance. (NB – It appears that Asamoah could be on his bike to Turkey – in which case, I am a little surprised at the drop down in quality. 28 years old, plenty left in the tank, 6 league titles with Juve, he deserves far better than Galatasaray. Yet this would also mean that another left back, or right back is coming IN. De Sciglio can play both flanks, so could be a LB or RB)

Anyway, onwards…ever onwards…

The central midfield remains the dilemma. Costa and Bernardeschi hugely upgrade the flanks, and the italian can also play through the middle. Keita would allow us to loan Kean (hopefully outside of Italy…PSV seems a decent idea) and offer proven talent covering all the offensive positions. It is behind them where our season will be made or ruined.

We couldn’t afford or entice or decided against the likes of Tolisso, Verratti, Fabinho or Matic. This is no fault of the club. I am sure we tried for some, especially the latter, but United have more cash and they also have his old chum Jose. This is not the club’s lack of competence or commitment.

Good enough for France, probably good enough for Juve…

Matuidi will be fine. He has a wealth of experience, is still often considered a starter by one of the strongest national sides on the planet and is not too long in the fang to prove sprightly. He can also operate in several roles.

We have Marchisio revived. Who has proven in the past very handy indeed as a DM/regista. And then there is young Rodrigo, the player who I have been long ear-marking for glory, crossing my fingers and talons that his starlit destiny will come in black and white…Indeed, the kid is naturally at his best as a CML, in a very similar role to how we deployed Pogba. Languid in style, yet transitions from still to galloping so beautifully swiftly with the ball at his feet, able to read the game and defend well from his time as a holding midfielder and offering an already well established passing range. A true gem in the mega rough.

A move to a 4-3-X is required. More security must be placed centrally and deep to fill the gap left by Big Leo. Khedira and Pjanic can not fill this role. Marchisio and Matuidi can. It is really that simple. One of them MUST play. Ideally both.

Pjanic will struggle playing in a midfield duet where his partner holds deep rather than bombs forward at every opportunity. Hence the need for a three. Options could include –

Matuidi – Marchisio – Pjanic

Bentancur and Marchisio can both play the LCM role. Matuidi can play the DM role (probably will take it, but I believe Il Principino should be a starter and his last period of superb form for the club was at DM). Khedira and Sturaro can play the Pjanic role.

How would that affect us higher up the field? It would likely be a shape-shifting 3.

Costa – Higuain – Dybala

Where Bernardeschi, Pjaca, Cuadrado, Keita can challenge and cover. Mandzukic returning to a CF backup role. His time as a LM is over.

A 4-2-1-3 would also be possible with Marchisio(Bentancur) and Matuidi(Sturaro) as the 2.

Something else to bear in mind is that the club has a hopeful, reasonable idea of youngsters who will make up the core of the future first team. If we purchase players for huge money, of a good age, it further restricts the chances of our own youth prospects finding an opportunity to return to the fold if they prove themselves worthy. With players like Mandragora, Bentancur, even Caligara (remember the name) to consider, Matuidi seems a fair choice. Or we could spend 100m+ on Verratti, forget about 2-3 very promising talents of our own…Watch them excel elsewhere then see no room at Juve and head to our rivals at home or outside of Serie A. It becomes counter-productive.

I suspect we are now in Lithuania. I should scout some new talent whilst here! And I see that Slivka has recently joined Hibs for a paltry 90k. Amazingly cheap. A decent spring-board to bigger and better leagues…

…My thoughts are hopefully clear and I implore you to offer your own. Nzonzi, Matuidi, anyone but Can would be fine with me and hopefully lead to a return to a side with a resolute not fluffy core of iron strength and will through the middle. Other than which, I will simply make a plea for my fellow juventini to bear in mind that we have lost a major pillar of our recent period of glory and success. This cannot be easily rebuilt, and there will be a period of transition which might prove rather prickly and harrowing.

Continue to believe in the club, in Max, in the players. It is through periods of adversity that we see our true colours…I hope yours remain black and white.

Forza Juve


(Follow me on twitter here)

NB. A youth report will be forthcoming…a few loose ends to tie up by the club, not just me! And I will ear-mark some time to complete the over-view for when I am bedding down in Krakow then Prague to work on my novels for 10 days in the near future.

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  • Avatar
    Ezio Auditore August 15, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    I completely agree with your statement. However I think that it might be a good idea to buy a really good RB like Ricardo Pereira because I doubt De Sciglio has the potential to be a starter in Champions league, and if so, he will need time. Nonetheless I agree that Asamoah is a valuable asset to the team. However we might have to part with one of Licht/Asamoah because they should both be backups like De Sciglio so we can’t have 3 competitive backups.

    The other thing, I think, is that if we buy N’Zonzi, I think we can play in 4–2-3-1 with Pjanic-Nzonzi. That would be a great balanced midfield in my opinion and would allow us to keep playing in 4-2-3-1, a system that allows us to get the best out of our amazing attack and play Pjanic as well.

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet August 15, 2017 at 9:08 pm

      I am of a different opinion of Mattia…I have seen him under COnte for Italy and he was superb. I have also seen him valuable at AC, then made a scapegoat of sorts. At 24 I do not feel he is on the scrap heap, far from it. Needs some time to settle, but I do believe he has the potential to become a top drawer fullback, for I have seen it in him before.

      Sandro is the definite for LB. I would hope that De Sciglio can become the starter for RB. Alves was not great at RB last season, Lichsteiner came in after been discarded and was good, average, now and then a little haphazard. None of the squad looked ready for competitive action other than Dybala and Costa. Our pre-season has been silly due to the US tour. Would have been better spent at home, playing games, more time together, training, bonding, than traveling. Still…we have time, and talent.

      I don’t know about the 4-2-3-1 without Bonucci. With Nzonzi, possibly…He has a very physical presence and can play the ball. That might work, and with our wingers massively upgraded, we could prove brutal. Matuidi though…seems more workmanlike chap with a good engine, even for his age, who can play the ball, get up and down the field. I have not seen a huge amount of him.

      Ideally, we would be playing Costa, Dybala, Bernardeschi, Higuain, Marchisio, Sandro, Buffon, CHiellini…then whoever seems best to get the finest value out of that lot!

      • Avatar
        Ezio Auditore August 15, 2017 at 9:16 pm

        Yeah I have the same feeling with De Sciglio. He could be a starter but he definitely needs time and Licht cannot be a starter so we need a new RB I m afraid. Maybe Spinazzola can be this new RB but I don’t really have an opinion on him as I don’t really know him well.
        However for the 4-2-3-1 I believe that Nzonzi would allow us to play with this formation as it the best one to get the best out of attack and still have a solid and balanced team. I believe that De Vrij and Chiellini would be a good central defence and Bonucci wouldn’t be missed. De Vrij has a great passing ability like Bonucci and I think that he could replace him well. With Lazio he often steps up in the midfield like “Big Leo”. If we stick to the 4-2-3-1, I believe that Mandzucic should stay in LM/LW as he is the only player with great heading ability in our starting attack. He should be put on the bench by Berna or Costa in the months to come. Also, i think that we should sell Cuadrado to Roma as we have seen agaisnt Lazio that he doesn’t offer much if not pace, and Keita would replace him well (Keita is a LW, but if he comes, Berna and Costa would play on the left)

        • thegutterpoet
          thegutterpoet August 15, 2017 at 9:50 pm

          I like the idea of De Sciglio learning from Lichsteiner. Not just as a player, but as a juventino.

          Nzonzi could be fine…but Im still not that keen on a central midfield of 2, unless both are able to share defensive responsibility, much like Chelsea offered last year with Matic and Kante. You could place Costa – Dybala (pjanic) – Bernardeschi in front of them with Higuain up top. I believe that crowd, in front of Marchisio and Matuidi, or Nzonzi, or at worst, even Marchisio and Bentancur, could be superb…

          As for Cuadrado…I have been an outspoken detractor for many moons. Was hoping he would be sold.

          • Avatar
            Ezio Auditore August 15, 2017 at 10:09 pm

            I think N’Zonzi would be perfect in a 2 men midfield alongside Pjanic but it’s only my option and as I said I m not a tactician or a manager but I think it would be nice to try.
            As for De Sciglio and Licht, I believe that we should buy another RB because these two aren’t CL level (not yet at least for de Sciglio). So either Licht or Asamoah should go. Maybe Asamoah can go so that Licht can stay and De Sciglio can become backup LB idk.

          • thegutterpoet
            thegutterpoet August 16, 2017 at 9:11 am

            I’d prefer one of them to stay…and as for Nzonzi…my point is that we need, desperately, a reference point in the centre of the field in front of the defence. A fulcrum. There was no fulcrum against Lazio. Big Leo used to help there, massively so it didn’t matter so much that Khedira and Pjanic were flimsy defensively. Now things have changed and that weakness can and has already been painfully laid bare…

          • Avatar
            Ezio Auditore August 16, 2017 at 10:23 am

            You are right. If Allegri doesn’t want Marchisio to play as a DM then we need a new one and a CB as well because Benatia shouldn’t be anything more than a backup and Rugani needs time before being a starter CB. I’d say that if we purchase N’Zonzi and De Vrij we would have a better team than last year (if we manage to replace Alves of course). De Vrij has the ability to step up like Big Leo whereas N’Zonzi would be the point of reference in the midfield (he was probably la Liga’s best CDM behind Casemiro last season). Moreover, N’Zonzi is the player we need in order to play in 4-2-3-1 with Pjanic. Indeed, N’Zonzi has the defensive abilities and physicality to let Pjanic more free on his duties. I personnally think that the best team we could line up would be :

            RB-De Vrij-Chiellini-Sandro

            (Ps: the RB could be either Spinazzola or De Sciglio or a new signing (Cancelo, Ricardo Pereira?)

          • thegutterpoet
            thegutterpoet August 16, 2017 at 4:15 pm

            I believe the club deemed the 40m price too much for Nzonzi. Shame, as I agree with you, he would have suited our needs more comfortably than Matuidi. Pretty sizable investment though.

            De Sciglio, in my mind, is earmarked to become our starting RB…unless Lichsteiner leaves and another established RB comes in. Might mean Mattia plays back-up in both LB and RB…Seems odd how most people judge him as poor. Prandelli, Conte, Ventura has all consistently rated him as one of the best fullbacks in Italy.

            Rugani needs to start! Not more time elsewhere before starting. All that is missing from his game is a decent run in the first XI. He had made no mistakes, does well when he plays…

  • Avatar
    gpm August 15, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    This is excellent stuff, Poet. Kicking Licht and Asamoah has been too easy for too many and we’ll miss both. Asamoah, especially, if he can return to the days of being an almost rampaging midfielder (when we had so many of them that he got switched to left back…) Much as I like the thought of bringing back Spinazzola, the suggestion that he’ll be first choice at right back – a position he has never seriously played – fills me with trepidation.

    Our main issue, I think, stems from the fact that there just aren’t the players we need on the market. The popularity of 4-2-3-1 comes at a time when all but a tiny number of midfielders seem much better cut out for 4-3-3. Today’s papers hint at 4-3-3 coming back if we get Matuidi, but it seems like slow, desperate thinking from Marotta, Paratici and Allegri, who should have thought of that before committing the rest of the summer spending to buying attackers. Keita feels like overkill in that respect, though I shan’t be complaining if we get him. For the reasons you give re: physicality, I don’t see how we can field Douglas Costa, Dybala and Bernardeschi together if we don’t fix the midfield. Spinazzola may end up being the most defensively safe man in Mandzukic’s old position. That being the case, too much is currently resting on the quick emergence of Bentancur, who I hope becomes first-choice, alongside Marchisio. Even if we get Matuidi, he seems a bit on the short side to be an outlet for the back.

    I have faith in Rugani re: defence, but not as much as I should in Barzagli, Benatia and a now-creaky-looking Chiellini. We should sign cover in the expectation that at least one of those three won’t do well this year.

    I find it hard to get upset about Sunday when we probably started training later than most of the other teams in Italy, but it has changed my mind re: Cuadrado. If someone offers us more than we paid for him, we should take the money and stop being so tight-fisted over Matuidi, Keita and De Vrij (better still, Caldara).

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet August 15, 2017 at 9:32 pm

      Very well thought and express, my friend…

      “the suggestion that he’ll be first choice at right back – a position he has never seriously played – fills me with trepidation.”

      I am glad that others share my sense of aghast at such a suggestion, which makes as much sense to me as ‘mandzukic is a big lad, seemed okay on the wing, lets play him CB’…Its nonsense.

      I wish there was a general tide moving towards Bentancur finding a berth in the first XI but I assume Max will bring him through very slowly.

      Barzagli and Benatia, even Chiellini…agreed. The defence need major renovation and I wish Max was more brave and clawed towards the future, dragged it to the Now, brought back Caldara and placed him alongside Rugani. Some hardship would prevail, but those two could be a gilded partnership.

      Same worries in regards to fielding our most obviously talented support cast to Higuain. Yet I do have some hope more than confidence that a Matuidi – Marchisio tandem would do the trick. Yet Max has a fetish for Pjanic (who could be a fine backup for DYbala in the hole) and Sami, who has rarely impressed this last year in any way other than managing to stay fit…

      Brilliant feedback and comments! I hope to read much more of your words…

  • Avatar
    elisadallomo August 15, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    I think we’ll use the 4-3-× with Pjanic and go back to 4-2-3-1 when he’s not playing. Or maybe a 4-2-1-× with him behind the ×. Or, like Max says, stop worrying about formations and formulas.. 😛

    As always, I’ll wait until every player has settled in before worrying too much about things, specially when we’re still at the beginning of the season. I love trophies as much as any other fan but I was angrier last year, when we lost the Supercoppa playing it in December, so..

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet August 18, 2017 at 7:07 am

      Damn! I wrote a lengthy response last night, then the drink got hold and distractions appeared…

      Essentially, I hope and believe you are correct, Elisa. It makes no sense to purchase another CM if we are sticking exclusively to the 4-2-3-1 as we would have Sturaro, Marchisio, Matuidi, Pjanic, Bentancur, Khedira…6 for 2 roles.

      Regardless of where Max played Lemina last term, and where he played Sturaro they are central midfielders, as was Rincon.

      Matuidi has always appeared to me more a box to box midfielder. He would be fine CML. Bentancur, despite what some have read, is a natural CML or CMR, the same role he played for Boca and for Uruguay. Indeed, he did start off at DM, yet his ability on the ball, especially to shift gears with the ball at his feet and bomb forward almost gliding…was too great to ignore, so he was moved and a diamond of sorts was created. Similar for both club and country.

      In short, he seems ideal for the old Pogba role at CML, yet defensively he is better, physically though, obviously less potent!

      Most importantly for me is to see Marchisio revive his role as the pivot of the side. If this happens, everything looks far more positive. Also, Rugani needs to be playing regularly.

      • Avatar
        elisadallomo August 26, 2017 at 5:35 pm

        I share(d) your excitement for Claudio’s return, specially after our first lega game, and now, as luck would have it, he’s back down. I’m sad and frustrated on his behalf.

        We did see a 4-3-3 for a few mins in Juve-Cagliari, so I’m thinking it will be eased in, depending on the players and the matches.

  • Avatar
    Nii Ayertei Tettey August 16, 2017 at 12:39 am

    I have never seen Spinazzola play but from what i hear he would be at best an attacking minded left back. about Asamoah think (at least for now) selling him would be a very bad idea. He is versatile able to play at LWB, LB, CM and maybe because of his discipline at CDM. He isn’t the player most fans want but on a number of occasions he has been the player Juve needed. He is very aware of his weaknesses (sometimes too aware) and often takes no risks AT ALL. That said those are qualities together with his engine and ability to tackle that would make him the player we need for now at CDM. Am very worried because if we sell Asamoah and/or Lichtiener now and don’t get the players we want soon we would be in big trouble! (just to recap those player would be Matuidi, Spinazzola and Cancelo (which would bring the number of new player to 5…the last time we had 5 new player we had a bad start to the season))

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet August 16, 2017 at 9:16 am

      Wise points, mate..Part of our mercato plans are forced, part are a balancing act between what we need now and what we hope to see blossom in the near future and part are down to what seems an annoyingly firm acceptance of the 4-2-3-1 system.

      However, we have been seeking a DM since May, even before then, with the Tolliso intrigue. That hasn’t changed and for me, remains the most important signing we make.

      I believe Asamoah could be fine in a box to box role. Yet Marchisio is the DM in the squad who could make the difference. He has to play or another, stronger DM has to play. Without Bonucci acting as the pivot of the side, we will be undone time and time again by any teams who charge straight down our throats through the middle.

  • thegutterpoet
    thegutterpoet August 16, 2017 at 9:18 am

    I don’t know about Tolliso, it seems we had him in hand, then a decision was made that he didn’t fit the new tactics. Strange decision given his versatility, or perhaps

    • Avatar
      4ZA-JUVE August 16, 2017 at 10:33 am

      I’m born to Italian parents, my friends are all the same, with our parents bring the same age as Marotta, I spent 15 years before they all retired working with that generation, one thing I know about that generation, they’ll drive 20 km coupon in hand to save 7¢ per pound on tomato’s, to pay the actual price for anything leaves them disoriented and unable to function for several days.
      As much as we’d like to think strategy, Marotta is your typical cheap Italian baby boomer. I don’t even know how many times I sat there, shaking my head, listening to the lengths these guys would go to save pennies, but they remember what it’s like to not have food, so I understand the mentality, but the director of Juventus being the same way, it’s ridiculous!

      • thegutterpoet
        thegutterpoet August 16, 2017 at 4:20 pm

        I understand and can relate in some way due to my own familial connections in Siracusa and my beloved friends from Casoria…but must remind you that Beppe and Paratici are probably more responsible for the return to the top of the last six seasons than any other at the club, except ANdrea Agnelli.

        Their work in the mercato is unrivaled. We have kept within our means, grown the revenue hugely, created a team to reach 2 CL finals in 3 years, win 6 league titles on the trot…I do not believe that Beppe and anyone at the club has the mentality you amusingly outline. The business side of things is extremely important, and another reason for out success and return to prominence.

        The investments made with Marotta and Paratici very much involved were huge speculation, with the aim to accumulate. We spent massively for consecutive mercatos then gradually moved towards breaking even, reducing the debt.

        I do not see a DoS anywhere near as successful with the same budget. Do you?

        • Avatar
          4ZA-JUVE August 16, 2017 at 5:57 pm

          I don’t disagree with you at all, in my first comment I mentioned that I’m amazed and respect what they’ve done in a short period with little spent compared to PSG or Man Utd, Juventus have taken the same approach as Bayern Munich, are financially stable and have a great team. That doesn’t stop me from wanting Verratti or Tolliso, I know after all the jokes, comparisons, or the frustration of not getting the players we hope for during the summer window, we’ll all be praising Marotta and Co come May… Your opinion is exactly what I think about Juve, and is why I enjoy your writing, you eloquently write what I think is going on in Vinovo. BUT… that shouldn’t stop a fan from releasing the child within to vent and hulk out at not seeing the players you’d have loved to see join your team, and that’s that!
          Btw Siracusa is such an amazing place I spent a summer in Fontana Bianca, so simple it was perfect!

  • Avatar
    Moderator August 16, 2017 at 11:35 am

    Great read as always comrade – I agree to an extent, but
    I’m against the switch to 4-3-3 for the simple reason that it leaves Dybala out
    of the equation. Yes, part of our problem lies in midfield and by switching to
    the three man mid, we might be able to dictate better and control matches all
    the better……however, the obvious impetus for the season ahead is on attack –
    we have ‘bulked’ out up top while leaving the midrift a little exposed, but in
    fine working order. In all honestly, the defence concerns me more than the

    Paulito is no right/left winger. For me, he’s not even an
    attacking midfield and shouldn’t be sitting so deep. I prefer him in a 2-man
    attack, playing off the likes of Mandzukic or Higuain. To have him now play
    wide would be a waste of his talents and those two players that we’ve bought in
    for that specific purpose. I’d rather we persist with the 4-2-3-1 and make use
    of the new talent we have.

    As for Spinazzola, he seems to have the attacking intent
    of Alex Sandro but not the defence capabilities, however at the tender age of
    24, he’s able to learn whats required of him and adapt. What better place than
    Juve to build on your defensive capabilities.

    I would be reluctant to lose
    either lichtsteiner or asamoah as the duo have been faithful servants to the
    club, never complained, especially Kwadwo, but we need a step up quality and
    neither are able to be bench players for the season ahead.

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet August 16, 2017 at 1:18 pm

      Understand your thinking, my friend and appreciate the comments…

      However, my idea of a 4-3-X would place Dybala in a similar role where he plays now, inside right and central, opposite Costa doing the same, both playing off Higuain up top. With Bernadeschi next in line to cover several positions.

      Ideally we would play with Berna, Dybala, Higuan, Costa, Pjanic, Matuidi, Marchisio…yet one has to miss out. The 4-2-3-1 with Matuidi next to Marchisio in the middle would be superb to see deployed!

      Marchisio – Matuidi
      Berna – Dybala – Costa

      That would probably be my favoured formation. It might work just as well with Pjanic in 2 but I would rather see him play higher up the field than in any position which requires some physicality to provide the defensive cover. Both Marchisio and Matuidi are capable of supporting the forwards.

      Essential to any success is to shore up the middle of the park with a system and player/s who create a base for attacks and the ball to flow through. This was completely absent against Lazio as it was completely absent against RM in the 2nd half.

      As you note, I also hate to see DYbala coming so deep, he should spend most his time in the final third…How we bring that about is directly related to how we contain, recycle and use the ball deeper.

  • Avatar
    Ezio Auditore August 16, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    I have a question. Given we signed Matuidi who will be a valuable asset and will bring pace, stamina and physicality in the midfield, I’m wondering if it is still possible for us to sign a True DM like N’Zonzi in order for Allegri to keep playing in 4-2-3-1 with Pjanic. I know we could play this formation with a tandem Matuidi-Marchisio but Allegri really likes Pjanic and its quite understandable, even tho I’d like to see this M-M midfield, because Pjanic is one of the best midfielder in the world so it would be a shame to have to bench him. That said, I have read several times since yesterday that even if we sign Matuidi (who will be pretty cheap) we will go for another midfielder but a more defensive one to play in a 2 men midfield alongside Pjanic (so ideally N’Zonzi). Given the fact that we are very careful on our spendings, I’d like to know if it was possible for Juve to purchase another midfielder. Because we still need cash to go for a CB (ideally De Vrij), a RB if not Spinazzola and eventually Keita

    • Avatar
      Donvincenzo August 16, 2017 at 1:59 pm

      I can’t really see us bringing in another DM. As is, it’s taken all summer to secure Matuidi. And Sturaro and Bentancur are going to get occasional playing time, so that gives us 6 midfielders to choose from in those two spots. It would also be nice to have another CB and RB choice, but I don’t think those will happen either. Allegri has too much trust in Benatia and the rapidly-declining Barzagi, as well as De Sciglio.

      • Avatar
        Ezio Auditore August 16, 2017 at 2:16 pm

        Oh well, N’Zonzi was the perfect target … Sturaro isn’t enough for Champions league, and Matuidi being a B2B, I m not sure that we resolved our defensive problem with him. N’Zonzi is a real DM and would offer much stability and balance in a 4-2-3-1.
        For the RB, I m sure that we will get at least Spinazzola if not a new signing (Cancelo, Ricardo Pereira, ?) and De Sciglio will be a backup. But like you I m concerned with this situation given Spinazzola is very attacking minded whereas de Sciglio is … not good enough for now.
        Turning to the CB position, I hope we can land De Vrij given Benatia should not be anything more than a backup CB and Barzagli is already 36. Chiellini being very injury prone and Rugani still inexperienced, it would be good to sign a solid CB like De Vrij (bewteen 25 and 30 years old).
        Anyways I still have faith in Marotta and Allegri and l think this mercato will end well

        • Avatar
          Xx RForcE xX August 17, 2017 at 5:42 pm

          I dont get your “fetish” for Nzonzi mate.

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet August 16, 2017 at 4:06 pm

      It is likely we will persist with the 4-2-3-1. Given we have brought in two massive upgrades for the flanks.

      Its financially possible. Yet the targets are unavailable and we have no room…we have retained Sturaro and Khedira, and with Bentancur remaining with the first team squad (thankfully) and Marchisio revived and with a full pre-season under his belt, now looking sharper than since his injury. Add in the frenchman and the competition for places is more intense than ever.

      I would have been happy to see both Cuadrado and Khedira leave the club this Summer, but it wasn’t to be.

      It seems ridiculous that we paid huge money for Caldara (by Serie A standards) and yet might now have to spend huge on De Vrij. We had enough time to offer Atalanta perhaps a few million and take him early. We need him now! Instead, knowing he is coming next season, do we spend a lot on another CB? Will a great CB wish to come with Rugani and Caldara earmarked for the future defence?

      Keita is an opportunity…if his contract was not expiring I do not believe we would have any interest.

      And why are people talking of a LW perhaps signed to play as a RB? That is a very strange mentality, one I cannot adopt…

      • Avatar
        Ezio Auditore August 16, 2017 at 6:23 pm

        Well, Genoa would like Sturaro on loan for them to agree to sell Laxalt to Atalanta for 10 millions. Maybe if he leaves we can go for N’Zonzi. We consider 40 millions to be too high for him but if we put Khedira in the deal, it might be down to 25-30 so to be honest I would love that (however I think that Khedira would be great in a 4-3-3 so keeping him for that would be great). As for Bentancur, he is still young so he won’t be a starter this year and this is why we should go for a real DM that can teach his experience to Bentancur. Anyways, maybe we can manage to sell Cuadrado for 30-35 millions to Roma and use this money to buy Keita+De Vrij. Keita would have more playing time with Cuadrado s departure and he just skipped Lazio training session so he is leaving no matter what. Speaking about De Vrij, he would be a starter. I know that we already have Caldara and Rugani but they are still young and in the future it would be good to have not 2 but 3 top class defenders (De Vrij is only 25 but already very experienced). I think we need De Vrij given that Chiellini is very injury prone, Barzagli is declining (at 36 years old its understandable), Benatia isn’t good enough to be a starter and Rugani is still young and inexperienced.
        For the LW playing in RB are you talking about Spinazzola ? Because he is more a LB than a LW and with Italy NT he played as a RB and seemed very confident in this position. I still believe De Sciglio can become a starter but I think that we should purchase another RB (Ricardo Pereira would be perfect but also Cancelo would be good) and let Spinazzola play Europa league with Atalanta and growing even more. But anyways I’d rather have Spinazzola than De Sciglio at RB to start the season, but ideally it would be a new RB.
        Ok so my main question was whether we can still buy N’Zonzi and I think that if we manage to sell Cuadrado or Sturaro, or include Khedira in the deal with Sevilla in order to lower the price, I’d be happy. However I’d also be happy if these players stay because I’m sure they can still offer a lot to Juve. And I can’t wait to see Matuidi !!

        • Avatar
          RAC August 16, 2017 at 9:24 pm

          You are right on the money. Spinazzola has been used on the left by Atalanta to accomodate Conti, but he is actually right-footed and can play both sides. I don’t really mind if he or De Sciglio wins out for starting RB; having them compete is the best case scenario for our right flank anyways. And either of them could play backup for whichever wing.

          As much as I appreciate Asamoah, he seems to be interested in moving to Galatasaray himself and is too young to play only a couple games per season. Stephan is the one I think we should keep for his black and white heart and leadership in this extremely delicate transition year.

          I think there is no way Khedira is leaving this year. I would definitely be thrilled to see Sturaro sent out on loan to get some playing time and maybe get another midfielder (N’Zonzi!), but from what I have read it is most likely that we send Kean on loan to Genoa to replace Simeone (a fantastic turn of events for Kean, I think). Sadly, I think this year for our midfield what you see is what you get.

          I think Cuadrado should be sold, specially if we are bringing in Keita. But I don’t think we will sell him. Keita is unnecessary, but feels like too big an opportunity to let go. I would hate to see us lose talents like schick and keita when they were both available and willing to join. That is not something that will happen every year..

          Lastly, and this is more of a general question for everyone: I see most opinions oscillating around Matuidi’s transfer being indicative of a midfield 3, yet he has been an unmovable starter in a double-pivot in the world’s most absurdly packed with talent national side (France. Maybe Germany also, but you get my point). Why do we think he can’t feature in a midfield two? I’m really curious, as I know there are people that understand this much better than myself.

        • thegutterpoet
          thegutterpoet August 17, 2017 at 8:18 am

          Mate, Bentancur is a natural CML, not DM. He is just as happy in a CMR position, especially as part of a diamond…

          He had too much quality on the ball, taking it forward to remain at DM and was subsequently moved, whilst at Boca and he prospered. He also plays a similar role for his country…

          He wont be a starter but as long as he gets games I will be happy…I suspect he will prove very hard to keep out once he gets settled, much like Pogba.

          No space for Nzonzi without shifting at least one of Khedira or Sturaro. Even then, Where does that leave Marchisio? WHo remains, for me our most important CM.

          Spinazzola was playing LM last season. As per the stats I shared, he didnt need to make so many tackles, also lost the ball more often, perhaps as he was in a more advanced position than Asamoah…He has played twice at LB for Italy against a woefully inept Uruguay side and as for Lichstenstein…not much needs to be said. As I mentioned, I prefer buying players who are specialists, not a player who has been in a completely different role for the last year. It worked with Asamoah, so could work with others, but I do not see Leonardo as strong enough to go anywhere near a starting best at LB or RB. I could be and hope I am wrong.

  • Avatar
    Dar Black August 16, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    If you lose a world class player you had better replace that quality like for like or else you will be in deficit obviously, and that forces an improvement somewhere else. We can’t replace Leo, so we need to boost the defensive midfield play. Matuidi will do that, but by enough alone? I am not so sure. I believe Marchisio is the most critical player for us this year. Thank god he is now back. We have to get that backline shield in place we seem to be missing, and a tough aggressive and athletic player is a king maker. He is that man. Let’s hope he performs as he can. Otherwise we could be a little soft under the belly this year.

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet August 17, 2017 at 8:25 am

      Couldn’t agree more mate…

      • Avatar
        Dar Black August 18, 2017 at 11:23 am

        Great article btw GP. I was going to say that earlier, but I am recovering today from a head on 40 mph collision yesterday evening with a 40 tonne lorry… Not my fault, but my body is as painful today as it was to watch my beloved 20 year old mint Toyota written off and carted from the scene on the back of a lorry. It never rains…..

        • thegutterpoet
          thegutterpoet August 18, 2017 at 10:16 pm

          Mate, that seems appalling…I hope your shell recovers swiftly. Yet I always suspected you were made of tough stuff, and your story proves the point!

          I had a spare hour or two on the coach to Vilnius…easily my favourite city of my travels through the Baltics, and alongside Moscow for the trip as a whole. Whilst St Petersburg is much more european, reminded me of Barcelona mixed with Berlin, I am less enthusiastic about the cool folk, and very much preferred the capital of the fatherland’s organisation, impeccable public service, stunning underground stations which are works of art in their own right and the public spaces are like pleasure gardens…huge sprawling forests for parks with man made beaches, cyclists, gorgeous women doing gymnastics and rollerblading, kids going berserk in the play areas and lovers everywhere…Really does put most other European cities to shame and is far cheaper than Paris or London or Rome…Don’t believe the bullshit, mate, as I am sure you do not. I’ve still people asking me if there was enough food on the shelves!hohooho! I think they have become a little too carried away with the MSM mantra…also, and this may seem strange, people seemed more free, less rules, more affluence, everything works…

          As for juve…hopefully I can catch the game tomorrow evening here in Poland. I am in an oven of an attic niche now in Krakow…really need to bed down and focus on my writing for the next 12 days, first here then Prague, and take a break from the sightseeing and pestering natives…I am excited, for the start of the season but also not quite as assured in my aspirations as in previous years. Much has changed, and I believe we will face a period of transition, which is still not set in stone.

          Really, I wanted us mainly to bring back Caldara…still could happen, but likely not. The story with Rugani remains weird. If he isnt thought of highly enough, sell him. Its strange, at best to see Benatia ahead of him in the pecking order, when he has yet to put a major foot wrong when he plays.

          Wishing you well in your recovery, take care comrade…

          • Avatar
            Dar Black August 19, 2017 at 10:07 am

            I must visit Moscow, the underground stations do look amazing….. Juve I too am concerned about defensively too, but then I was last year too and we did far better in UCL than I thought we ever could. Perhaps Mr Matuidi is a missing piece filled from last season. Just got off the phone from the policeman who attended the accident on the night. Thankfully he got all the Lithuanian drivers/haulage company insurance details – big weight off my mind. It was a mixture of shock at accident (second before impact really thought I was going to be killed), upset at losing my car and despair at having to deal with foreign insurance company. Anyway, I am just about to send thankyou texts to those that helped me at roadside before ambulance arrived. There are still lots of nice people around…..

            Yes, get that writing done sir! Who is looking after your hound btw?

          • thegutterpoet
            thegutterpoet August 19, 2017 at 1:31 pm

            Ahh…I remain addicted to MOTD, caught up on last weekend’s offering last night over some long overdue vodka, yet this new lair in Krakow is horrid. AN oven, the loft bedroom has not one spot I can stand up straight, and was baking me alive, the kitchen also needs my head bent to use the fridge or bin, the chair I was going to use for writing at the desk is broken, the kitchen lights went upon first switching on, the lamp then also proved faulty…and finally, I emerged from the shower, my eyes still wet, saw a towel down the side of the washing machine and shower so thought I must have dropped it there, so grabbed it and wiped my face and hair until my snout noted a stench…it was filthy.

            All in all the worst day of my trip and night, my neck aches, my irritability is sky high, tourettes strikes at any mere trifle…I have found another place for the next four nights, asked for a refund her. The airbnb host doesnt want to refund of course…and is coming to meet me here before i leave. Fine. I couldn’t care less for the money. Its the damn principle…If I am prepared to drag my belongings – and shopping I bought for the next few days – halfway across town, and he can see the chair, the towel, the lights and knows damn well that I couldnt stand up straight in the loft, regardless of the well taken snapshots, and he still says NO, fine…just another selfish fuck seeking nowt but the lucre. I will shrug my shoulders and start my crawl to the new lair. I’m annoyed, had earmarked this time for comfort, vodka and novels…Still, not all is lost, and look at the balance in this very thread eh! You found some great souls!

            Our offence is the strongest it has been for years…If Marchisio and Matuidi and Pjanic play somehow…then our CM is also world class, or somewhere near it. Sandro also world class…Buffon the same, Chesny Hawkes solid as a rock I believe. Which leaves the all important CBs and RB.

            Now this weakness will be hugely opened up if we play Cuadrado, for his ability to tackle is as haphazard as every other part of his game and he is terrible at keeping the ball, often seeming to deal with like a hot potato in hand…It makes it even more important to play Bernardeschi on that flank, for he has a phenomenal engine and is much smarter than Juan.

            I’d still prefer Lichsteiner for now. His experience is vital with the shocking performance from last week still in the system.

            If you send me an email I will share my travel reportage at some stage, mate..>>

            I will hope to be settled enough to catch the game later this evening.

            Glad you survived…and keep your head above the slaughterline, comrade.

    • Avatar
      Xx RForcE xX August 17, 2017 at 5:28 pm

      Oh yes Sir.

  • Avatar
    BelgianJuventino August 17, 2017 at 9:00 am

    Really wondering how Allegri intends to use the available squad. There seems to be a shift in defense first to attacking first for this season. It seems odd to spend over 40mill twice on Costa and Bernardeschi for not using them. Yet the midfield duo has been exposed and anyone with a decent coach knows how to play Juve now: flood them through the centre.

    Yet you can’t field wingers + Dybala + a 3 man midfield. Unless we play some weird 3-3-4, which makes no sense at all. Curious to see how this season unfolds

    • Avatar
      Juventino Persa August 17, 2017 at 9:51 am

      Yes, you can, if using Dybala as RW, with lots of freedom, a bit Messi-esque! With midfield due exposed when pressed high by opponents, and defense not as strong without Leo, a midfield trio is a must, specially against high pressing teams. My thought alternating between 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3, which is:

      Costa/ Berna. Higuain/Mario Dybala/Cuadrado
      Matuidi/Bentacur Pjanic/Marchisio Khedira/Sturaro
      Sandro/Asamoah? Giorgio/Benatia Rugani/Bargza De Sciglio 🙁 /Licht.?
      Buffon/Szchezsniii (tough spell!)

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet August 18, 2017 at 6:57 am

      As Persa outlines below…and I mentioned elsewhere, mate….a 4-3-3ish would work, Costa and Dybala could both play a little off Higuain, not as wingers, for the width would not be needed so much from them with 3 in midfield, and the centre so much more secure. Which also allows the fullbacks to attack with more safety and support in field.

      I’d be fine with a 4-2-3-1 still, especially if Matuidi played with Marchisio as the 2. ANd of course see what you mean in regards to the massive investment. Yet Bernardeschi is a versatile lad. He is absolutely fine playing through the middle…Costa also used to be a striker.

      Main reason I prefer the 4-3-X is that it increases the chance for Bentancur to prove his worth on either side!

      My hope is that Max does not simply start on Sunday with the same formation of last week, or last season, with the same players. Lichsteiner remains a much stronger and quicker RB than Barzagli…Khedira and Mandzukic both deserve to be dropped. Rugani deserves a game.

      Lichsteiner Rugani CHiellini Sandro
      Pjanic Marchisio
      Bernardeschi Dybala Costa

      No keeper needed…!

      • Avatar
        Juventino Persa August 18, 2017 at 12:39 pm

        your point on Bentancur totally spot on! I have watched a couple of our friendlies and he was so inspiring!

        • thegutterpoet
          thegutterpoet August 19, 2017 at 7:35 pm

          I am staking my reputation on his value! (Disclaimer – that is the reputation of a aging poetic drunkard who often blindly throws his hands against the keys not at all in time to music and assumes the message makes sense…)

          • Avatar
            VonKellef August 20, 2017 at 10:57 pm

            I love the part where you mentioned booze. I have noticed you mentioned the Russian water more than a couple of times. What else do our Badminton Poet drink?

  • Avatar
    E.Micallef August 17, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    We must defend in 7 at most and be ready to go with 3. Costa dybala Higuain should remain upfront leaving opposing rb and cb in their position. When we take the ball we re one on one. We spend too much going backwards and when going forward we are lame no ideas exhausted.

    That’s what happened in Cardiff in Rome. Leave forward to do the forward.

  • Avatar
    Shanks August 18, 2017 at 7:20 am

    It would be great if we rob Lazio for De Vrij, Keita Balde, and Savic! Even though we don’t exactly NEED Keita Balde you can’t deny his talent and potential. We definitely need a midfielder like Savic and defender like Dr Vrij though since Chiellini and Barza are both getting up there in age. Got to make a move for Cancelo too, I hear other teams are already making offers and I don’t trust MDS’s defensive capabilities.

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet August 18, 2017 at 10:57 am

      It seems silly to spend more than 5-10m on De Vrij when we could spend that or less to bring Caldara in early. I will continue to assume the club had Rugani and Caldara earmarked as our future pairing, else Rugani would have been loaned or sold rather than retained. Would make sense financially and from a playing sense.

      Balde seems still viable. No idea what we offered. Perhaps 5-10m? We might well end up seeing him sign for another club later this season if they keep him against his will, which is their right, but petulant and nonsensical from a business perspective. The point with Balde is do we really need him? He would be coming as back-up to Higuain/Dybala I assume…

      Also with Savic…we have Mandragora, Bentancur and then Caligara coming through the next 1-3 seasons. Also Marchisio is fine in the CM role…damn, I must scarper, alerted to movement by yet another eatern european daughter of eden seemingly gliding past my line of sight…i would follow her to Hades, if she so wished, yet have never spoken to her, havent even seen her face, her gait and form from behind are enough divinity alone…

      • Avatar
        Shanks August 19, 2017 at 7:17 am

        Is Caldara on loan or is there a buy-back clause in his contract? I’d love to see a Rugani and Caldara pairing in the back line. I suppose it would be too soon to play them but why not let them obtain some game experience under their belts?

        • thegutterpoet
          thegutterpoet August 19, 2017 at 10:06 am

          That is the aim, I have assumed for many moons, they are our future defence. Probably for La Nazionale in turn…

          Caldara has no buy-back clause. We paid a strange incentive based fee, such was our conclusions of his potential-

          EU15m flat fee
          6m in possible extras based on achievements with us after he arrives in Turin in 2018
          4m in possible extras based on achievements with Atalanta during his loan spell which ends in 2018

          I’d be happy to see them both starting for us, or at least alternating with Barzagli and Chiellini, to gain experience. Together for the coppa italia games perhaps…