Fresh from a long overdue escape from the citadel, where I stayed in a renovated shack on the side of a valley, found the frogs and kangaroos and a roaring open fire for company, and steamed in an bath on the verandah from whence I could see nothing but the wilderness in every direction as the Sun shone, soft icy rain floated down upon the only part of my body above the water line (my damn knees) and gale force winds caused the trees to shudder, the roos to seek cover, and yet a rainbow appeared…Indeed much of me remains in that idyllic refuge, and yet now returned to not reality, but merely more familiar surrounds I must steel myself to cough up a brief report of my visit to the fabled MCG last weekend, before the memories fragment and are lost in the abyss.
Despite finding the announced traveling squad even more woeful than I had assumed, I retained hope of seeing a fair selection of the first team. Some of which I did, at least during the warm-up…
The stadium was not even close to a quarter full, and I am loathe to peek at the recorded figure for it may well prove one of the lowest of all time in terms of Juve’s preseason routine visiting strange and foreign climes. Despite the excitement of feeling so close to the players, I couldn’t help but feel rather short changed. Which was at least partially assuaged when the starting XI were announced and finally took to their positions.
Lirola Rugani Marrone Severin Sandro
Lemina Hernanes Asamoah
The game began at a slothful pace, at least for every Juve player except Dybala, who instantly looked a different species to not just the opponents, but also his own teammates. Soon enough Sandro began to show himself and looked ever more lively as he pranced, teased, beat his man and produced a swathe of dangerous crosses. I counted 7 chances created by Juve, 1 from the opponents, in the first half, then was as dismayed as amused to find my comrade who was in attendance supporting the home side counting crosses as chances! Indeed that was how dire the creativity levels of Victory proved during the first 45.
There were flurries of quality, all of which involved Dybala, mostly dovetailing with Sandro, though Asamoah and Cerri looked useful. Pol Lirola gave a solid showing on the right flank, though his endeavour was overshadowed by the spritely footwork of the brazilian on the left. I was also impressed with Severin who kept things simple and did not look out of place. Lemina must receive a mention for he was nothing short of appalling. His shooting was definitely worse than my own, his running lopsided, passing barely adequate. With three gilt edged chances to test the keeper all terribly fumbled, he finally produced one moment of quality with a trademark outside of the right boot cross field pass. Other than which…he seemed the worst player on the field. Yet to give him something to work with, I suppose it is worth adding that he was consistently finding himself in good positions between the midfield and attack. It is what he made of those positions which disgusted me.
The break saw the expected swathe of substitutions, which left our on-field side, other than Neto until the 65th minute, not featuring a single member of our first team squad from last year or from the same I expect of this coming season. Instead we were forced to indulge the youngsters and a couple of senior players presently in limbo, waiting to find their next destination away from Piedmont.
By the time Blanco scored his wonderful 40 yarder, lobbing the keeper from near the half way line, I had moved to sit by my comrade and her understandably uninterested husband, close to what the Australians call ‘the active zone’. Which is appropriate, for these were a small phalanx of ‘hardcore’ singalong types, spouting nursery rhymes and raucous rounds of ‘for hes a jolly good fellow’. Yet back to the goal…which was a brief but wondrous moment in an otherwise insipid affair.
The burly centre half will remember the goal for the rest of his days, though who can say, perhaps its the start of a glittering career. I would like to believe so. The primavera stopper will soon be loaned elsewhere to gain valuable experience at senior level. Hopefully to a half decent Serie B side.
As to be expected from a makeshift XI of kids and unwanted senior players, the game became much more level, and it came as no surprise, just a damn bother, to concede late on, with even the Victory supporters eager to call it a day and head home to drown their despondency in russian fire water. Yet penalties ensued, and Audero may have saved one, then we missed a couple.
Il mio cugino Riccardo enjoyed himself a little more than me!
Like many others I assume, I will be writing to ask for a refund on my ticket, for whilst I paid $160AU for a decent seat, there were thousands of others who were given free entry, in an attempt to make up the numbers. The value of such a thing is beyond me, for whilst I see – not for the first time – my cousin meeting the players last night; to have the squad travel thousands of miles to play meaningless games, to half empty stadiums, with barely any of the first XI featuring is surely too intrusive into the summer training routine to cause more joy than aggravation. Indeed, I left the stadium feeling rather hollow, yet will offer a brief outline of the positives –
Dybala is picking up exactly where he left off last term. His pace, trickery and roaming was outstanding throughout his time on the field. Also looking equally potent was Alex Sandro, who I suspect will usurp Evra this coming campaign.
Of the youngsters, I was keen on Cerri, who worked well with Dybala, making good use of his towering physique and showing intelligent touches to put other players in on goal. Lirola was a solid as I had assumed, and looks ready for senior football. Of the others…Marrone did little to impress. Severin was comfortable. Parodi and Coccolo nowhere near developed enough physically to mix with the big boys. Baby Nedved aka Macek, too lightweight, Kastanos invisible. Padovan and Rosseti seem capable and maturing well enough. And finally…Audero is far smaller than I had hoped!
I see we are already 2-0 up against Spurs, and will peek at a live stream, half-heartedly though, for these matches are about gaining fitness, and avoiding injury for the many, and for the rest, putting themselves in the shop window or trying to out-wrestle the executioners arms of Beppe who are keen on moving them on.
A brief mention of the mercato seems in order…
I have come to assume that the Higuain move could well be seen as a serious purchase for this Summer and next in turn. As the fee can be paid in two installments. Which makes it easier to swallow as what the devil else will we need next year? We will have only Barzagli, Buffon and perhaps Lichsteiner, nearing the end of their tenure, and with Lirola growing at a startling rate, we may have a ready made replacement on the right. At the back, by then, perhaps young Romagna will be ready to become part of the squad, which alongside Benatia, negates the need to purchase a new CB. Finally I retain hope of Leali coming good or of Gianluigi maintaining form until he retires at 40! I can now see no obvious areas to improve.
I do not believe anything of the stories suggesting we are trying to persuade Pogba to stay. Not a damn jot. We have never stooped to place player before club and why the devil should we do so with Pogba? Such a story may suit some to believe, yet it makes us seem of a small club mentality. Evidently, he wants to leave. And so we will sell him for a price we consider proper, or he can stay in the squad. The club are – as far as I am deducing – moving to avoid becoming enslaved to the demands of our good friend Raiola (God bless his dear little heart!…Which is a piece of coal) and Paul’s suitors. We hold all the cards…Pay the price or spin your yarns to the media and leave us to concentrate on mounting a serious challenge for the champions league and a 6th straight scudetto.
We may well be speculating to some degree, in order to accumulate, yet our sponsorship deals from Adidas (20m) and Jeep (17m) alongside the Serie A TV money for 16/17 campaign (120m+) obviously help and we are likely assuming a decent run in the champions league for another 20-30m+ for the coffers. We have been in an increasingly positive financial state since Andrea Agnelli appeared on the throne, flanked by Beppe and Fabio…
The one area of the squad where we were anything less than classy was the centre forward position; namely a goal machine. Which we have not found in our ranks since the departure of Trezeguet in 2010. There are seldom few top notch, proven in Serie A and beyond natural born goal-scorers we could purchase. We have procured one of the world’s best.
I do not like the price but I find the fee for Pogba equally lunatic. If we are being as honest with ourselves as we must, we will accept that the price was inflated to such a degree as a deterrent to ward of would be covetous glares. If we can talk of a more fair price, I would have suggested 50-70m. Yet who cares eh? We have Higuain from Napoli as well as Pjanic from Roma. How kind of our two major domestic rivals, at least from a sporting perspective.
In essence, I believe we are strengthened, significantly, by the arrival of the Argentine. He is a huge step up on Mandzukic and Zaza, our other centre-forwards. He has a colourful wealth of experience and is in the peak of his career. A different player to his Madrid days, now more wily, more rounded and alongside the other signings we have made, I salute the club for they have done all that is possible to strengthen the side year upon year, which deserves our applause alongside our support.
It is also worth noting that Higuain was assuredly not short of suitors. Many of whom could have paid far more in wages. Clearly he sees Juve as a move to an elite club. Where he can chase glory, not solely gold.
Imagine El Pipita forming a partnership with La Joya for both club and country! Could be a match made in heaven or even Hades!…Regardless of international matters, the potential for Pjanic, Sandro, Dybala and Alves to have a world class forward to aim for is mouth watering.
I still expect players to be sold – definitely one of Mandzukic and Zaza – and perhaps Barbosa to appear alongside another central midfielder…other than which our work is done. We enter the new season with greater talent, strength, experience and hope.
I realy like this kind of articles, you try to be impartial, and put things in a more balanced perspective. Keep up the good work!
By the way anybody knows where Lirola will be loaned? He looks promising and I think it will be a waste to retain him for this year ? Sasuolo maybe ?
Cheers, bogdan! Though I chuckled to read you suggesting I was ever impartial! I shall indeed endeavour to drag us through this lively Summer with suitable reportage and hope that discussion prevails and blossoms.
Lirola is off to Sassuolo as far as I know. In one of those strange loan deals involving right to purchase and our right to counter that right to purchase!
Not sure I’d rate Kean over Lirola or Clemenza or Romagna. If I had to pick one out of all these I’d say Clemenza probably has the best future. Kean is very good but not sure I’d rate a player this highly when his only tenure is the u17 squad. Hopefully Lirola gets some Serie A playing time this season, with Vrsljako gone the door is open for competition at the position.
I understand your thinking, Jas…but ponder for a moment why Raiola has signed on as his agent.
The other players you mention look solid bets for a possible chance in our first team squad, yet none of them seem a natural born phenomenon as does Kean. He managed 24 goals in 25 games for the Juve U17, as a 15 year old. He also turned out for the U19s this season(scored 1 in 2), and moved up to the Italy U17s where he has scored 5 in 8. His progress has been stunning.
Kean is already known well beyond Italy and is talked of regularly as one of the most exciting teenagers in world football. This is why you see Raiola involved. The player is destined for great things.
Romagna and Lirola look possibilities to find a chance in our colours in a 2-3 years time. As for Clemenza…we must wait and see how he recovers from the ACL injury. Some players never fully recover, yet at his age, he has a fighting chance of returning to where he was prior to the trauma, with the only crying shame the loss of a season which will be used to recover fitness then sharpness, when he would otherwise be moving into senior football via a loan. I assume he remains with our primavera as an over-aged player until Christmas, when if he is ready, we can send him out on loan.
well, the fact that you recognized that Pogba is not worth that much really makes me think that you try to put things in a balanced way. I’ve just seen that Lirola was loaned to Sassuolo, and this is a good thing for him. My opinion about Raiola is kind of conflicted, I mean the guy pushed for Pogba to join us but at the same time he tries to force every “hand” he has to the maximum and for the club this is not the best thing …
And I read now he may be attempting to maintain relations by bringing Matuidi to the club…I’d be happy to see the powerful midfielder appear in our ranks. The balance of young and mature is important, and whilst some rightly focus on the age of Higuain and Alves, our other major signings of this year and last are Dybala, Sandro, Pjanic and Pjaca, all of whom are incredibly promising, of establish class with room and years to further develop.
Hoping Gabigol joins… if not, maybe we can still buy Matic and or Sissoko and lure either Depay or Mharez and our team would be good to go for a coupple years
For the following years though i hope we invest in:
I would like to see Zuoma from chelsea in our colors, him and Rugani are the future of great CB’s
I trust in Leali but should he fail to succed Buffon, there is always Perin, Meret, and Dragowski
I also dream of someday seeing Marco Rues and Alexis Sanches (hopfully meanwhile Pogba and Dyabla are still in the team) in our colors, they are truly amazing talent
Contrary to popular opinion i dont think we should be selling Hernanes and Peryra, nor Zaza (Unless we really need to; however we should sell Mandzukic, Isla, Maronne, Neto and Staruro for sure!
I have seen little of Zouma, and remain unconvinced. Given his lengthy rather nasty injury, I wonder on what you are basing your sterling opinion of his value, Gerald?
It seems Matic may be out of our reach and as for Sissoko…he was great from France but atrocious for Newcastle all season. His price seems hugely inflated presently, yet so are many others. Add in Hector Herrera to the mix. A name I recall Moggi advising us to purchase a few weeks back. Perhaps he could pull a few strings, the old devil!
Pereyra was terrible last season. Admittedly he was returning from a fair injury lay-off but he was nowhere near the levels of the season prior. I cannot see Hernanes playing much, so why stay? Allegri has openly remarked that Pjanic can play in front of the defence, which leaves Hernanes playing in what role? The situation becomes more dire for him when MArchisio returns, but that may not be until early 2017.
One of Zaza and Mandzukic must be sold, as we will not have 3 prima puntas in the squad. Zaza may bring in more gold and I’d rather keep Mandzukic, who is more wily and experienced and can still be useful on a consistent basis.
Great article my friend! You’ve made all sorts of great points and the floor is open for discussion. I would go as far as even stating that we are champions league favorites if we can keep Pogba for one more season. The financial aspect of the situation has plenty of variables if you break it down. Going far in champions league, say the semi finals? we would probably earn enough liquidity to justify Higguains transfer. The is the best transfer window I have ever seen for Juventus, at the same time it is a bit scary. No longer are juve just below the elite, now we are expected to be contenders in CL. I am off the mentality that talent should be groomed for the most part. If we look at the sucessful bayern and barcelona teams of the last ten years, majority of the players came through the youth ranks together. I think the only downside to acquiring this much talent will be the effect on our younger squads. That part I take an issue with, its a side step from our core values as an organization. Maybe I am thinking small and narrow but what worth is there to a trophy if we simply acquired it through financial means?
I admire your enthusiasm for the cause, comrade! Yet cannot bring myself to label us anywhere near favourites for the champions league. The odds have shortened, I will happily agree with that, but Real, Barca and Munich are stronger, as a squad, than Juve. All being well, our finest XI could compete with any of them, but with injuries and suspensions, squad depth will show. We have a chance! And with a little luck, and no Chelsea or United…we could win the damn thing. I wont make any predictions whatsoever, for too much expectation is a recipe for heart ache.
I do not see a magical swathe of youth players all moving through the ranks side by side. There is more promise than for many moons, but we are not in a position to blood youngsters en-masse in our senior side, for success on the field is too important to our project.
The Higuain move will not derail the project. The money will be largely recouped by another season of domestic dominance. A decent run in the champions league will improve matters further, yet as I outlined briefly in the report – I do not see where we can improve now.
a natural goal-scorer of the highest level. Higuain.
more pace and trickery on the flanks to replace and improve on cuadrado. Alves and Pjaca.
Creative element in midfield. Pjanic.
Back-up at CB. Benatia.
Marchisio can seamlessly step into the CML Pogba role when he returns, but before which that is the only position where I believe we need to strengthen perhaps. Yet now that Allegri has a proper trequartista in Pjanic, he can move towards a back four. Which will make the team more offensive yet at the expense of the immense solidity of the BBC.
We have sold big and signed big in the past. Yes yes, the age of Higuain is an issue to some, yet I assume we will get three classy seasons from him, perhaps four. We have Dybala, Sandro, Rugani, Pjanic, Pjaca all of a young age with wondrous potential. Lirola looks very promising. Romagna may come good. Our option on Berardi remains intact. Pereira is also an interesting investment. I feel the club is moving very much in the right direction.
Yet what I am left pondering is how we are to meet our home grown requirements. The four who meet that category for Italy is easy. The four who have spent 3 years in our stables, is a more tricky affair. Which is likely one of the reasons why the club wish to keep Kean in the youth setup another season. Alongside the fact that he is barely 16!
RB Alves, Lichsteiner
CB Bonucci, Chiellini, Barzagli, Rugani, Benatia
LB Evra, Sandro
CM Sturaro, Khedira, Marchiso*, Mandragora, Hernanes, Asamoah, Lemina, Pogba, Marrone
AM Pjanic, Pereyra
SS Dybala, Pjaca
CF Higuain Zaza, Mandzukic
Which is 2 players too many instantly (squad is 27). I believe that if we do not meet our home grown at the club quota our permitted squad size is reduced. I doubt we want this to happen and so…
1 of Mandzukic/Zaza is to leave certainly. 3 prima puntas is excessive. That brings in some cash (20-30m) and takes the squad down to 25. Pogba is off, which brings in likely an extra 30m after we take out the Higuain fee. Down to 25.
Hernanes, Mandragora, Marrone and Lemina seem the most likely candidates for departure. Yet Marrone would count as our 2nd home grown at the club, though would he ever get a game? That seems a waste of a squad space for club and player alike. Still, let us put him in the squad! with 2 HG to find. So 2 more players must leave. And yet we are looking to replace Morata perhaps with Barbosa and seeking Matic for midfield!
Neto is the obvious choice to leave to seek regular playing time, bringing in Mirante, though he renewed with Bologna. We may have to pay them off with the loan of Mandragora. Yet I believe he will remain elsewhere.
The dilemma faced by Beppe and Allegri is that we have a squad presently of 25. Two in house home grown players to find, or the squad limit will be reduced to 23. Replacements for Pogba and perhaps Morata, which means four players in total so perhaps four will leave. Neto, Hernanes, Lemina, Mandragora.