There have been many changes to the landscape of Settore Giovanile football since the end of last season, not only at Juventus but also across Italy as the FIGC and its member clubs look to improve the development of young players across the peninsula. Adam Digby brings you all the info as he analyses the Bianconeri youth system with the return of his weekly round up.
Much like with Antonio Conte’s Scudetto winners, it has been a very busy summer for the teams of the Youth Sector as Beppe Marotta and Fabio Paratici – working constantly in tandem with Gianluca Pessotto and Youth Director Giovanni Rossi – strive to achieve the club’s dual aims: remain competitive at all levels whilst also developing players for the first team.
Achieving both objectives is extremely difficult, as getting first team experience for a player usually means sending them out on loan, which then of course weakens the youth side. This is why careers appear to stutter, as we see most prominently in Alberto Libertazzi (held back to captain the Primavera and now struggling to break into a senior side anywhere), a sharp contrast to Ciro Immobile – admittedly more talented and two years older – who is now with Genoa, the fourth club he has featured for, and for whom the reward in improvement is plain to see.
The biggest difference for all teams taking part in Youth competitions is of course the significant lowering of the Primavera age bracket from 20 to 18, not only bringing the sides in line with other countries but also ensuring that, unlike in Libertazzi’s case, a 21 year-old suddenly finds himself with zero first team experience and stuck on the outside looking in.
The shift has meant there were a number of coaches left with no role to fulfill but one man the club were desperate to keep was the impressive Fabrizio del Rosso and he has been appointed to Assistant Primavera Coach in order to improve the quality of staff helping the oldest of the youth squads. Head coach Marco Baroni was pleased with the move, particularly given that Del Rosso coached many of the players available as they were part of his Allievi Nazionali last term:
Fabrizio is a great worker and will give me a big hand. He also knows many of the players coming through to us after coaching them last year.
As the first team began pre-season in the Aosta valley, the Primavera began their work for the new season at Vinovo, completing the same fitness tests and difficult work Conte puts his own players through. It will be a long and difficult season for the side given they will be competing in four different competitions as they have entered the NextGen Series and the Viareggio Tournament (of which they are defending champions) as well as taking part in the usual domestic league and cup campaigns.
Baroni is looking forward to the challenges presented by such a difficult schedule and is confident his players are ready for the increased number of fixtures. Speaking to the club’s official website before the season began, the coach said;
Having a large squad, just as we did last year, enables us to face all competitions in the right way. The target is to do well, allow the players to develop and look to better what we did last season. The new rules have put everyone on a level playing field.
By cutting out many of the older players last season, Juventus – along with Roma – are perhaps the best prepared among Italian clubs for the rule changes and it would be no surprise to see the two battle it out for honours once again at the end of the season.
For this year’s pre-season, due to the extended summer leave given to the Juventus Euro 2012 Azzurri contingent, nine players were chosen by Conte to step into the void left by Buffon et al: Andrea Schiavone, Stefano Padovan, Daniele Rugani, Pol Garcia, Hordur Magnusson, Joel Untersee, Gabriel Appelt, Ouasim Bouy and Richmond Boakye. Training with the first team will have proven to be a huge boost for these players, an experience they will hope to repeat with more first team call ups in the coming season.
In and amongst their other warm up matches, the side took part in the Ruhr Cup once again, dropping out in the group stage following draws with Legia Warsaw (0-0), Atlas Guadalajara (1-1) and hosts Borussia Dortmund (2-2). From there they moved on to the annual friendly against the first team at Villar Perosa, losing 5-1 to the senior squad but once again it would prove to be a wonderful occasion, with a number of players having reason to look back fondly on this year’s edition.
Defender Prince-Désir Gouano, midfielder Giuseppe Ruggiero, and forward Stefano Padovan joined center-backs Pol Garcia and Rugani in featuring for Conte’s side, but perhaps the biggest moments from a Primavera perspective go to Ruggiero who scored the final goal of the game and Leonardo Bonatini, who netted the B side’s only goal. The former Cruzeiro starlet cost Juventus €1m this summer and big things are expected from the 17 year-old Brazilian.
The league campaign then began with a 3-0 win over Pro Vercelli thanks to two goals from Padovan and a third from Stefano Beltrame. Mauricio Isla also featured as he worked back towards full fitness but the game perhaps belonged to Federico Mattiello, who only just moved into Primavera football but appeared in excellent form as he created numerous opportunities for his teammates. There was also surprising news at full time as Gabriel Appelt was unveiled as a Pro Vercelli player: the Brazilian playmaker will hope to learn much with the newly promoted Serie B side.
From there it was a tale of two vital last minute goals as the NextGen Series got underway. Drawn alongside Fenerbahce, Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain in Group B, the Bianconeri arranged to play their home matches at the Stadio Moccagatta, home of Alessandria Calcio. In the first game against Turkish side Fenerbahce, Padovan scored twice more, only to see the side fall behind 3-2 after some terrible mix ups in defence. However, Eric Lanini came on as a late sub to score in added time and rescue a point.
A few days later – and back in league action – it was the turn of Icelandic defender Magnusson’s turn as he too popped up in injury time to a 1-0 win away to La Spezia. The luck ran out this past weekend however as Simone Emmanuello and Laurențiu Brănescu were both sent off in the first half against Cagliari and the Sardinians ran out 5-0 winners. The Primavera boys will have a much needed week to recuperate with no domestic fixture this weekend, meaning they can fully focus on the NextGen encounter with Paris Saint-Germain on September 19.
Allievi and Giovanissimi Nazionali
Changes were inevitable for the Allievi Nazionali B as former coach Ivano Della Morte moved up a category to take charge of the U-17s and the man brought in to replace him was Giuseppe Angelini, a former top-flight player with an excellent track record. Assistant coach at Cesena during the season they earned promotion to Serie A, Angelini enjoyed a nice reunion with his former player Emanuele Giaccherini, as he told Juventus.com:
It’s nice to meet up with him again here and I think joining a club like Juventus means we’ve both come a long way. I’ve accumulated a lot of experience over the years and now I’m here to put that experience at the service of these lads, who knows, I may even uncover a new Emanuele!
He will be working with an extremely talented group of youngsters in his first season at Juventus. Last year these players – born in 1997 – were robbed of the chance to contend for the Giovanissimi Nazionali (U-15) Scudetto by a dubious decision to determine the result of another (Inter!) match by forfeit. Their new league season begins on September 16.
Meanwhile, Claudio Gabetta – the coach of that same U-15 side – will be keen to go one better this term as he resumes with the Giovanissimi Nazionali in the new campaign. Their season begins on September 16 against a Pavia team coached by former Juventus defender Mark Iuliano.
The Allievi began their preparations with entry to the “Carlin’s Boys” tournament in San Remo, the 55th staging of the much-heralded youth competition, Ivano Della Morte continued his good work in a competition won by the Bianconeri in 1961, 1967, 1997, 1998 and 2004. They began with a 7-0 rout of hosts San Remo followed by a 4-0 win over Virtus Entella which meant comfortable qualification to the Semi-Final where they lost to Salzburg by the only goal of the game.
Next week’s Youth Sector Latest will see a FULL ROUND-UP of Loanee & Co-Ownership players sent to other clubs, as well as a return to the match-by-match analysis for the Primavera.
In bocca al lupo ragazzi!