Club Features

Status Report on the eve of a new dawn…

August 19, 2016 - 1:00 pm

It is a bother, to find ourselves in a similar situation to this time last year. In that we have not completed our mercato by any means, with the season opener mere hours away. Despite the uncertainty, our work in progress offers far more hope than horror.

Allow me to begin with the positives.

Higuain was a huge signing, for the many solely in terms of the lucre, but for the few; the first serious signing of a world class goal-scorer since Trezeguet left the ranks. We overpaid. Yet could afford to do so. We have weakened one of our major domestic rivals considerably. The Argentine is a top level prima punta, who may not score as many goals as he did last term in Naples, but undoubtedly upgrades our goalscoring potential massively. He knows where to move, to receive, has played at the highest level and will score goals.

Pjanic again weakens a direct rival, yet his price could well prove – in the long run –  a bargain. He is extremely focused, cunning, eminently capable of finding space, linking the play and will prove a major upgrade at set piece situations.

Pjaca is something of a wild card. Pace, determination, youthful exuberance and flair. Yet where does he fit? The croatian remains an unknown quantity.

Alves is a player who I have always despised. His theatrics, off field antics, tendency to play the officials. All of which is far removed from Lo Stile Juve. Whilst I have long considered him a flashy, yet ultra capable prick, I am forced now, as he has become one of us, to balance the scales. The Brazilian remains fit enough to produce world class moments. His experience is unbeatable. And he will assuredly add huge quality to the right flank.

Benatia is a solid addition to the squad. More mobile and capable higher up the field than all of our other centrebacks. Question marks may remain of his fitness. Regardless, he has a wealth of experience, a word I keep repeating, and that is something very hard to value in monetary terms, yet equally something we need, which any side competing for top honours requires in spades.

Some have broached concern of the ability of Dybala to dovetail with Higuain. Yes, it is true, Dybala is used to playing at his finest with a prima punta with his back to goal, but such is the sublime talent of the youngster, I have zero apprehension of his steady blossoming into one of the finest players on the planet. It doesn’t matter where you see him on a formation diagram, for he is prone to roam wild and free. Deep, wide, high. He is too good to falter. Our attack is now immense. As is our defence. Even if we make the move to bring back Cuadrado, which I do not like, it seems that we will replace the defensive potency of Lichsteiner with De Sciglio, which is a step in the right direction. My only concern for our season is midfield.

Pre-season form is rarely instructive of the competitive campaign to follow. Though it is fair to assert that our midfield, constantly chopping and changing, involving players on the trajectory of exit, has been poor, and simply absent of cohesion. The reasons for this are connected to the mercato, for we have been playing players who are unlikely to feature in the first team squad come the season proper. We have also been dealing with the absence of Marchisio and Khedira, alongside the departure of Pogba.

The midfield is more often than not where the majority of games are won or lost. At the top level it comes down to moments of individual brilliance or mistakes, but the long haul, especially domestically, is rooted in the ability of the midfield to control games. To create. To dominate. Our midfield presently is very much up in the air. Some would say the same of our formation, but to delve into that pandoras box would require many more hours which I have ear-marked for poetic endeavour and completing my studies of Arminius.

I must assume that given the renovation routine still very much alive and alert and needing finalisation, Allegri will go with what we know is our best; the 3-5-2. Of which the rearguard and attack is close to settled. But the midfield?

Pjanic as a regista is not yet convincing despite the encouraging and hopeful words of the Boss. Asamoah can slot into the left CM role and looks very much back to his best. Absent of Khedira, we have Sturaro or Lemina to take up the RCM role. Neither has shown reliability. Whilst others seem to sing the praises of Lemina, I have seen more quality of the Italian to ponder him the more valuable, for he has grit married to a supreme engine, which allows him to move box to box with vigour. Lemina has looked useful solely offensively. I retain high hopes for Stefano, and my own jury remains very much out on Mario.

If we are fortunate enough to have Big Sami fit for a lengthy period, and if we can maintain a charge towards the summit of Serie A until Claudio returns to the starting XI, we will have come 2017, one of the finest Juve sides I have ever known. A midfield of Marchisio, Pjanic and Khedira would be immense…

I feel a little edgy heading into the new Serie A season shoe-horning a classy trequartista into a regista role, with the RCM role, absent of Khedira, at best larval. We need some muscle in midfield. Some tenacity. Witsel or Matuidi would be fine, but we must get the deals done swiftly. Uncertainty of our midfield at this stage of the game is far from ideal.

Still…if we can begin with the following, we appear at least on paper, far stronger than this stage last year-

Buffon

Lichsteiner Barzagli Bonucci Chiellini Sandro

Sturaro Pjanic Asamoah

Dybala Higuain

And once we have Khedira and Marchisio available we will have an exceptionally strong starting XI which can compete with any foe, toe to toe.

Forza Juve

TGP

You Might Also Like

  • Avatar
    Moderator August 19, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    The midfield…..i swear, if its not one thing, it’s another. My kindgodom for one summer where we:

    1. Complete all our transfers in, nice and early
    2. We sit back and dictate the terms of players who are departing
    3. We have no long, drawn out transfer sagas, be it players in or out of the club
    4. We have no injuries
    5. We have all the players we want in the squad, long before August

    Much like TGP has written, my main concerns for the game tomorrow all rest on the midfield. Asamoah/Lemina/Khedira would be ok for tomorrow…..but it still is a far cry from our first choice midfield. As much as i came to loathe Pogba, his energy and pace will be missed…..and we don;t have a replacement in place yet ! Arghghghghghg

    Throw into the mix the talk of Emery wanting to keep Matuidi and the lack of resolution over Cuadrado and what started as a bright summer is fast becoming a frustrating one.

    I have lots of time for Sturaro, but i have slight preference for Lemina at this stage – i like the way that he plays on the ball, the way he tackles etc. He has some nice qualities to his play.

    Thank God Serie A returns tomorrow.

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet August 19, 2016 at 1:49 pm

      My concerns, my friend, are for the period until we reclaim Khedira and long after Marchisio. Yet I have faith in Beppe and Fabio, and will not yet criticise them, for I believe they have their man in the bag, and its just mutterings in the shadows which presently preclude the arrival of Matuidi or Witsel…

    • Avatar
      Hani August 19, 2016 at 5:27 pm

      Don’t forget that this winter we have African Cup of Nations, which usually is a disaster for fitness levels of the players involved. Lemina, Asamoah and Benatia would probably participate.

      • thegutterpoet
        thegutterpoet August 20, 2016 at 1:03 am

        It is likely that only one of the three will be regularly part of our starting XI, namely Asamoah…

        • Avatar
          Hani August 20, 2016 at 4:00 am

          Let’s say “hopefully” instead of “likely” 😉

  • Avatar
    Dar Black August 19, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    Well summoned thoughts as always sir 😉

    We all seem to be worried by midfield matters don’t we! I wonder if Pjaca can do the dynamic, direct & pacey box to box job? He seems to have all the constituent parts – if he can just put them all together to complete the circle he might be a replacement for Pogs?

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet August 19, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      I am yet to see enough of him to make any judgment, though from what I have seen, he seems very much a wide forward. Zero defensive zeal, and why shoe-horn an offensive raw talent into a box to box role?

      Asamoah will be fine in place of Pogba, and will maybe be more potent, for what he lacks in flair he more than compensates for with tenacity, positioning, covering, tackling and ability up top.

      Matuidi or Witsel are coming, the sooner the better, comrade.

  • Avatar
    Mikkel Andersen August 19, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    Our midfield is hands down our weakest area. With Pirlo, Pogba and Vidal gone we need at least one top player there.

  • Avatar
    Mikkel Andersen August 19, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    Lichsteiner Barzagli Bonucci Chiellini Sandro

    Sisokko Pjanic Matuidi

    Dybala Higuain Pjaca

  • Avatar
    elisadallomo August 19, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    In the previous years our midfield was only second in talent to our defense, which I think conditioned our play: we were veeery midfield-dependent, but that’s where our stars were so it made sense to play that way – at the time.

    Right now I’m excited to see how our play develops and becomes a bit more centered in the attack. We still have our top class defense so it’s just a matter of being able to successfully shift the play forward a bit………. or maaaybe, who knows, find a new star midfielder within our group??

    I need August to be over. September 1st can’t come soon enough. This has been a wonderful mercato but it has also been veeeery draining. And I don’t think it’ll get better with time, either.

    • Avatar
      Hani August 19, 2016 at 5:20 pm

      If Juve are really after Cuadrado, it is probable that Allegri is considering 4-3-3 formation seriously, and I expect Juan to be deployed primarily as a winger (alongside Licht/Alves). Already against Espanyol Allegri tried attacking threes, first with Higuain-Mandzukic-Dybala and then with Higuain-Dybala-Pjaca, with the second formation more resembling a classic 4-3-3.

      Then again, when asked about Zaza replacement, Allegri said we have enough forwards already.

      • Avatar
        elisadallomo August 19, 2016 at 8:20 pm

        That’s what I’m seeing, too… it seems like he wants to try to have 4 in the back for most of the game now, instead of just at specific times.

        I do count the more offensive wingers and midfielders as part of the “forward play” I’m expecting to see now. But, I don’t know, we’ll see. All I know is that I’m soooo excited for this season to begin!! I’m almost as excited as when we signed Pirlo – and that’s saying a lot.

        • thegutterpoet
          thegutterpoet August 20, 2016 at 1:31 am

          Signing Pjaca who seems a natural wide forward or winger would have made no sense unless we had plans to move towards a front 3. He seems purely offensive. Alves could offer high penetration on the right in a 4-3-3, yet Evra would need to play to balance the defence. A more simple option would be to have another wide forward cum winger, such as Cuadrado. Yet then where does Dybala fit?

          I do not believe Allegri has any idea of his ideal starting XI, if we even have one. We must wait to see how Pjanic fares in a DM role, how Asamoah fills in the Pogba gap, if Khedira can be kept fit, how Higuain fits…plenty of questions to be answered and we will just have to hope that this transitional period where we are seeking to implement the new players is not as traumatic as the same period last year. Yet that was hugely worsened by the injuries, which presently, we have avoided.

          • Avatar
            elisadallomo August 20, 2016 at 2:16 pm

            I agree that all signs point towards 3 forwards, which (to me) would mean 4 in the back.. I just don’t see us playing a 3-4-3… or even a 3-3-1-2 or 3-3-2-1… makes more sense to have the bulk of the players in the back.

            If we have Cuadrado on the right, Dybala would be on the left, no? I don’t know if Pjaca would start many games at the beginning of the season.. he’ll most likely sub off Dybala at the 70th and get the starting spot on a few games, whenever we’d want to rest Paulo. However, I don’t think Juan would be a starter, either.. at least not every game. The combination I see less likely is Dybala+Mandzo+Higuaín, although who am I to know what will end up happening…. I could only predict when Conte would play Matri as a starter or as a sub with 100% accuracy. Other than that……

            I am crossing all fingers and toes for a fit Khedira!!! And for Marchisio to return in top form!!!

            I think Allegri might have an idea of the formation, and he’ll just fill the spots depending on who’s in better shape. Thankfully now we have at least two great options for most roles. I was also hoping for a less traumatic mercato this time around but I guess it was inevitable.. hopefully we (I mean “they” but, you know) have learned from last year’s mistakes and have a better idea about how to do it in a way that won’t see us in the second half of the table again. Ever.

  • Avatar
    Gerald Quinn August 20, 2016 at 7:28 am

    Am i the only one excited of a Cuadrado return? lol none the less i agree with Poet i do see Pjanic wasted in the CDM, role…where we disagree is that Khedira should be CDM, I rather see a wasted Khedira than a wasted Pjanic ..but c’est la vie, all we can do is hope that Allegri knows what he’s doing. I’m a big proponent of a 4-3-3 rather than a 3-5-2…at least for the CL run. Once every one is fit and ready for CL play offs i will enjoy seeing
    Sandro(Lichsteiner SUB)-Bonucci(Barzagli SUB)-Chelini(Benatia SUB)-Alves(Evra SUB)
    Marchisio(HernanesSUB) – Khedira (Lemina SUB) – Pjanic(Asamoha SUB)
    Dyabla(Zaza SUB) – Higuain (Mandzukic SUB) – Pjaca (Cuadrado SUB)

    Jesus fucking Christ we can make a winning Serie A team with just playing the Subs as Juve B!!!

    I still think we have the best 2 new midfielder options in:
    Herrera and Fabregas,if not then i wouldn’t be as ecstatic, but still content if we swoop in for Matuidi (the most realistic option) …SOME speak of Isco… sorry to poke your bubble but I consider him to be a wet dream at this point.

    I think we should just stick with Hernanes if we are going to replace a sub par player with the same or worse…which would be the case in Luis Gustavo and or Witsel…

    Witsel would be a dumb buy because we can have him for free next season; Truth is he doesn’t add instant quality, he is just their, a sub so why splash good cash?…”good things come to those with Patience”,