Juventus 2011-12 Pagelle – MIDFIELDERS (Wingers/Side Mids)

When Antonio Conte first arrived at Juventus last Summer, the future looked bright for Milos Krasic and Eljero Elia. Though the Serbian had faded in the second half of the previous season, a full Summer break and an energetic coach was seen as the cure to his ails. The Dutchman in the meantime, was strongly anticipated as a crucial left-wing component of Conte’s 4-4-2/4-2-4 system.

It’s fair to say wingers have actually had a hard time coping at Juve this year. The 4-4-2 was quickly shelved in favor of a 4-3-3, and wingers either had to adapt to more central roles (Pepe/Giaccherini) or accept relegation to the bench (Krasic & Elia). When the 3-5-2 was finally introduced, width was provided by the wing-backs, and this saw a rebirth of the likes of Paolo De Ceglie and even Marcelo Estigarribia.

It’s been a tough year for out-and-out wingers, but some wide midfielders like Simone Pepe and Emanuele Giaccherini have found plenty of space in the new Juve. And it’s fair to say they surprised many fans with their positive performances…

    Simone PEPE
PANINI Juventus-2011-12 - #7 Simone Pepe
Aaron:    6.5 Adam:    7.0

Match Reports AVG.
  Lars:    7.0 John:    6.5
Marco:    7.0 Mike:    7.0

Aaron: 6.5 – Krasic’s inability to get off the bench last Fall is as much down to the Serb’s own abject performances as it is to Pepe’s superb form. Looked determined to prove himself to Conte and Juventus fans alike, Simone chipped in a fair amount of goals while providing a great balance to the 4-3-3. A few minor injuries led to a dip in form in the Spring, though he did score a fantastic scissor kick in the return leg against Lazio.

Adam: 7.0 – Strangely, Simone Pepe now appears to be a widely-appreciated player, a viewpoint quite at odds with the common consensus last term. Able to settle into becoming an impactful and versatile reserve, his qualities shone when he no longer was asked to do things he cannot. His six goals this season of course included two more against Lazio, as the Roman continues to haunt his old enemy.

Lars: 7.0 – Never the most brilliant of the bunch, I still consider the contribution of Simone Pepe an absolutely crucial one. His work on the right in the initial 4-3-3 more than once assured that a team still finding its feet were able to secure points, often contributing with a goal or an assist. He may not be endowed with God-given talents, but his work rate and sheer grinta is right up there with the best of them. A bench player for next season one would imagine, but one I am very confident in having there.

John: 6.5 – Solid season from Sgt. Pepe. I’ve always thought him as a nice, useful player to have, with workrate, stamina and heart making him overachieve (considering his actual skillset). He’s even done better, scoring six goals and virtually all of them crucial. I still say he could be terzinoed à la Gianluca Zambrotta, but considering his improved performances in attack and his age (not to mention the alternatives that have/will be brought in to finally fill those positions), it’s far less likely or necessary.  

Marco: 7.0 – Much like Marchisio, if we’d written these Pagelle back in December, Pepinho would receive an even higher rating. In the months of September to December, the winger was in absolutely storming form, providing key passes but above all, GOALS (who can forget his equalizer vs. Napoli at Stadio San Paolo) for Juventus. Since then, Pepe alternated moderate performances with a few stinkers, bit these were often interspersed with capital goals as well (e.g. vs. Lazio). Transformed by Antonio Conte from a rather dubious purchase (last year) to a battling & defensively-capable winger/side midfielder , the bat-with-nails™ treatment did Simone Pepe real wonders. Probably the player which underwent the biggest positive transformation (à la Felipe Melo 2009-10 to 2010-11, you know minus the douchebag factor).

Mike: 7.0 – Terrific season for Pepe, heavily used by Conte for his versatility and work rate. In one season, Pepe was fielded as a Right Forward, Right Wing, Right Midfield, Center Forward, Center Midfield, Left Wing, and Left Midfield… That’s SEVEN positions in one season. Madness! Even managed 6 goals and 3 assists.

    Emanuele GIACCHERINI
PANINI Juventus-2011-12 - #4 Emanuele Giaccherini
Aaron:    6.0 Adam:    6.5

Match Reports AVG.
  Lars:    6.5 John:    6.5
Marco:    6.5 Mike:    6.0

Aaron: 6.0 – Only a few seasons ago, Giaccherini was playing in Serie C1 with Cesena. His rise to Serie A, Juventus, and now the Euro 2012 Italian national squad is truly one of the remarkable rises in calcio, and fully deserved. Giaccherini offers something unique in the squad: creativity, movement, and vision, doing well whether as a central midfielder or higher up the pitch. He showed this in flashes in the Fall before becoming a bit more consistent, as Giac fully settled into the team. Still a lot to show for the ex-Cesena man, but proof of his versatility is that Prandelli called him up to the Euro championship despite he only made 9 Serie A starts this season.

Adam: 6.5 – Giaccerella, you shall go to the ball! In 2009, he was playing in what is now Lega Pro (Serie C1). This month, he started a tournament match for Italy against the reigning World and European Champions. Giaccherini fully deserves everything that has led to that Azzurri debut and describing his rise as meteoric is an enormous understatement!

Lars: 6.5 – Put in many a great shift and impressed, largely. Much like Pepe (their differences aside, Giak being more flair-oriented & less secure), Emanuele is player I am happy to count as an alternative to the more established veterans, as he offers solidity as well as the odd dribble to faze the opposition. One of a few jokers – position-wise – at Conte’s disposal, which is not to be underestimated.

John: 6.5 – When Juve signed Giaccherini last Summer, there was predictable disappointment and anger on the Twittersphere. I remember opining that Juventus has signed a virtually unknown journeyman in a similar position, to fill a similar role, with a similar stature, at a similar age… but hell, it turned out better than expected! After a full season it’s clear that Emanuele Giaccherini isn’t quite analogous to Mauro Camoranesi, but their career paths seem to be taking a similar trajectory from obscurity to the National team. Considering his past struggles and injuries (including a ruptured spleen), it’s a feel-good story to boot.

Marco: 6.5 – I just love the Little Goblin. When Juve signed Giaccherini I was like “WTF!”, having just seen that comical open-goal miss with Cesena against.. Juventus of all teams. Then, I saw the man at work and began appreciating his energy, his motivation, his dribbling skills and even decent technique. Then he also started scoring (the goal vs. Bologna in Coppa Italia and the one vs. Atalanta on Marrone’s assist come to mind) and I was a happy man. No doubt in my mind “Giaccherinho” will make himself useful next year and by looks of it, Juventus think the same thing (they just resolved the player’s co-ownership in full).

Mike: 6.0 – Great season for my twin, who is currently living his fairytale dream career (see the ItalJUVE profile I did on him for the full tale). Did well to provide Conte with options to change tactics mid-game as a substitute or provide cover for positions when key players were unavailable. Scored a few lovely goals, too.

PANINI Juventus-2011-12 - #28 Marcelo Estigarribia
Aaron:    5.5 Adam:    5.5

Match Reports AVG.
  Lars:    6.0 John:    5.5
Marco:    6.0 Mike:    6.0

Aaron: 5.5 – The Paraguayan arrived with little fanfare, as most Juventus fans had no clue who the winger was. Signed on loan after an impressive Copa América, Marcelo has not displayed the same ability. A competent player with decent skills (defensively as well as offensively), his main demerit at Juventus was his inconsistency. We’d see flashes of a Camoranesi-style deft touch or great dribbling skills, but not often. If he can be signed for cheap, it’d be worth it: at a young age, he can surely grow in ability and at worst, he was never a “poor” option to have on the bench.

Adam: 5.5 – Came in as a reserve and filled the role quite well. Wouldn’t be overly concerned whether he stays or leaves, his impact truly was minimal.

Lars: 6.0 – A fairly unknown quantity upon his arrival, Estigarribia filled in admirably on the left when called upon. Not exactly stellar, but not a bad player either. Shares Conte’s values in terms of work rate and tenacity, but technically leaves some to be desired. + 0.5 points for his goal against Napoli at the San Paolo.

John: 5.5 – Like Pazienza, Estigarribia was brought in as a depth-signing… only he actually had pazienza (see, I knew I’d be able to get that in!). Performed good enough for what he was asked to do. While Juve took a low-risk gamble that his performances in the Copa América could be indicative of a very good player just waiting to break out. That didn’t *quite* happen, but another season in Serie A could help him sharpen his skills. That is, if he’s given the chance. Although primarily a left-sided player, El Chelo is right-footed but less talented than e.g. Isla, thus making me believe he won’t be back.  

Marco: 6.0 – A mixed year for El Chelo. Arrived in Turin with a lot of promise after an excellent Copa América, where his speed & technique wreaked havoc on South American defenses. Serie A is a whole other ballpark however and Estigarribia found himself with considerably less space and tighter marking. Also had a few troubles with accurate crosses and wastefulness in front of goal. His highlight of the year will remain that goal at San Paolo which contributed to the crazy 3-3 comeback vs. Napoli. Aside from that, a lot of running & anonymous performances. Ultimately a 6.0 summarizes his year well, as that is also his match reports’ average: a rare standout, one way or the other.

Mike: 6.0 – A good Serie A debut season for 24 year-old Marcelo Estigarribia. Despite being a primarily left-sided player, he added extra tactical flexibility for Conte, showing good potential for the future as quality cover for both the LB or LW positions. Given the chance, I think he’ll be even better next season but it’s absolutely necessary that he stays. And I think he adds enough competition for De Ceglie to keep Paolino’s consistency up.

    Simone PADOIN
PANINI Juventus-2011-12 - #20 Simone Padoin
Aaron:    5.5 Adam:    5.5

Match Reports AVG.
  Lars:    5.5 John:    5.0
Marco:    6.0 Mike:    6.0

Aaron: 5.5 – A like-for-like replacement for Pazienza, but with Giaccherini and Marrone’s skills in central midfield one must question whether Padoin was necessary as an alternative to the starting MvP trio. Versatile enough, but probably not good enough to be our bench midfielder.

Adam: 5.5 An insurance policy brought in when Michele Pazienza decided the Udinese bench was more comfortable than the Juve one. Rather than repeat myself, see my comments on Estigarribia.

Lars: 5.5 – A safeguard investment for Pazienza not wishing to be part of a Scudetto-winning side. Did not ‘shit the bed’ (to use an Aaron phrase), but never exactly lit it on fire either. I have a hard time seeing what Padoin can contribute to Juventus to be honest. And wasn’t he playing on the left at Atalanta, to some success? A bit baffled.

John: 5.0 – I had more to write about Fabio Grosso than this guy. That says something…

Marco: 6.0 – A former Atalanta pupil of Conte’s, Padoin was brought to Juventus for his versatility (he can play on the side of midfield as well as in the center) and energy, but primarily to act as a backup following the departure of Pazienza to Udinese. He did not wow us with his performances to say the least, but acquitted himself of the tasks given to him in the half-dozen games in which he featured. As a cherry on the cake, he scored his first goal for Juventus by participating in the 5-0 goalfest in Florence, but it’s doubtful he’ll find much space in the team next year.

Mike: 6.0 – Nothing too special as an individual piece of the puzzle, but Simone Padoin was added to the mix as cover and performed well with the seven appearances he was given.

    Miloš KRASIĆ
PANINI Juventus-2011-12 - #27 Milos Krasic
Aaron:    4.5 Adam:    4.0

Match Reports AVG.
  Lars:    4.5 John:    s.v.
Marco:    4.5 Mike:    5.5

Aaron: 4.5 – The idol of the fans last year, Krasic’s star has fallen faster than Enron’s stock. He was known as “il talismano” but as the season went on, he progressively lost his status in the starting XI, the bench, and then wasn’t even good enough to travel with the club. Bereft of confidence.

Adam: 4.0 – Some players are described as thoroughbreds: like many of those, give him some open grass to run into and Meelosh is as happy as can be. Ask him to track back to help the fullback, or beat a man from a standing start, and he’s lost. Totally unsuited to Conte’s demands for pressing and possession, Krasic will likely move to the Premier League and shine, leading many ill-informed people to criticise Juve for letting him go. To complete the metaphorical circle this truly is a case of horses for courses.

Lars: 4.5 – Poor, poor Milos. He wanted it more than anyone but never regained the confidence so evidently lost last Spring, and while a Conte 4-2-4 looked a perfect fit for him, the system was abandoned early on. That said, he failed to deliver when given the chance and was never really a fit for possession-based play. There is a wonderful, speedy, counter-attacking player hidden in Krasic still, but it won’t flourish in Turin anytime soon.

John: s.v. – He played so little from the previous season’s accolades, that I simply don’t find it fair to rate him.  He’s terribly suited for Conte’s tactics, but Conte’s tactics worked. So it’s time for him to move on. Best of luck, Milos.

Marco: 4.5 – Oh Milos… :( Why must you torture me so? I loved you from day one (paying €10k out of your own pocket to make the Villar Perosa friendly? Wonderful), I banged the mattress for you, I was even going to stitch your name on my 2010-11 shirt in your honor… until your downward spiral started. From the Winter of 2011 you were never the same again. Those mattress-banging days seem like a distant memory…

Mike: 5.5 – A tough season for my favorite player of last season, and I probably feel just as disappointed as Krasic on what he was able to contribute. It’s difficult for me to understand how the hell Meelosh didn’t fit with any of Juve’s systems this season, but I suppose Pepe’s excellent form had a lot to do with it. Still, not even able to make the bench is a clear indicator that MMFK can’t perform on this team. A pity.

    Eljero ELIA
PANINI Juventus-2011-12 - #17 Eljero Elia
Aaron:    s.v. Adam:    s.v.

Match Reports AVG.
  Lars:    s.v. John:    s.v.
Marco:    5.0 Mike:    4.0

Aaron: s.v. – Like Krasic, the early switch from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 severely limited Elia’s chances at Juventus. Even so, it seems Conte didn’t particularly rate the Dutch starlet, he played less league-minutes than Fabio Grosso. A big disappointment, as the player has great potential and seemed eager to impress. Kudos to Elia and his agent for their professionalism, as neither ever complained about the winger’s lack of playing time. Best of luck wherever he ends up.

Adam: s.v. – The anti-Giaccherini. No heart, no willingness to fight and, in the space of two years, gone from the a World Cup-Finalist team to the stands. Will leave with his reputation severely dented.

Lars: s.v. – After a transfer that turned sour for all involved, the Dutch Enigma is sure to be sold or perhaps go out on loan in order to recuperate some lost market value. Kudos for not being too much of a brat about it; we are, after all, talking about a boy who came to the club as a Dutch national team player and leaves with practically nothing to show for his limited efforts. Found too light-weight on the ‘Conte Scale’, and – like Milos – somewhat a victim of circumstances.

John: s.v. – I simply don’t get it. Massive potential, but did nothing with it. During the colder months when Juventus struggled to unlock cynical provincial teams’ defenses, I clamored for him to play. I don’t blame the coaching staff, as Conte’s actions made it clear that anyone who wants a chance to work their ass off and fight for playing time will have that chance. All’s well that ends well, but I can’t help but wonder what could have been if Elia had a better work ethic. I guess that’s why creative, attacking players who are/were regular call-ups for an offensive-minded, successful national team fall into your lap for less than €10 million.

Marco: 5.0 – One start, 4 substitute appearances, 13 on the bench without playing. One “assist” (kinda) in the Coppa Italia. Discounting the myriad of useless tweets, that is the gist of Eljero Elia’s year at Juventus. Some say he was never truly given a chance by Conte, that he needed to play more, that a €10m investment merited more playing time. The truth is that in the few times he WAS given a chance, Elia did nothing but disappoint. And although he was a constant presence (albeit a non-playing one) on the Juve bench until November/December, Conte sent him straight to the stands from that point on. Evidently “something” didn’t work out, and whether this was the fault of the language barrier, the player himself, or the tactical module switch (Juve abandoning the 4-2-4 system certainly didn’t help), Elia’s transfer was a failure. A costly €10m failure…

Mike: 4.0 – Five appearances might not be enough to read the true measure of a player, but I still think Elia should have done better with what he was given. -0.5 for his even poorer performances on Twitter.


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