Unlike Juve’s senior team, currently stuck as they are on an endless repeat of the same tired old story, the Bianconeri’s Settore Giovanile has already experienced both some terrific highs and concerning lows since the start of 2012. Starting the year in great fashion, a superb January Primavera side faltered badly as the weeks progressed and went into the Viareggio Tournament in inconsistent form. Once there however the prestige and sense of occasion seemed to inspire the team, as Marco Baroni led them to the glory and silverware which would hopefully serve to drive Juventus on to deliver upon the vast potential of their youth squad.
Yet since that trophy win back in mid-February the Primavera have once again faltered, culminating in last week’s disappointing Coppa Italia Final First Leg loss at home to Roma. A quick recovery was needed and, as Empoli visited Vinovo on Sunday morning, a much changed team delivered just that. Putting aside the loss to the Giallorossi just three days earlier, Baroni’s boys changed formation and mindset, playing extremely well and considering themselves very unfortunate to win the match by just a single goal.
After Francesco Margiotta had given the Bianconeri an early lead, the first half was almost a procession for the home side. Empoli goalkeeper Jacopo Furlan and defender Daniele Rugani made two remarkable stops from Alberto Libertazzi – as well as a third from Ouasim Bouy – right on the line before making another great stop on Andrea Schiavone. Despite the Tuscan side getting to grips with the pace set by Juve after the break, Margiotta almost doubled the lead before substitute Stefano Beltrame hit the post with another great strike. With Bouy alongside them, the duo continued to probe for that elusive second while fellow sub Gabriel Appelt and Schiavone ensured the three points were always safe.
One point that must be made is that, in both the initial formation and after that switch to the usual 4-2-3-1, the defence looked much more solid than it had in recent matches. The central defensive pairing of Prince-Désir Gouano and Hörður Magnússon – considered by Baroni to be his second choice line-up – looks to be developing extremely well with the duo clearly understanding each other’s flaws and intentions. Their resilience will provide the coach with an interesting conundrum in the coming weeks as it often looks far more coherent than when Carlos Garcia starts alongside the much less effective Gianluca Rubin.
Untersee, Gouano, Magnússon, Liviero
Bouy, Chibsah, Schiavone
Margiotta (70′ Gabriel App.), Libertazzi, De Silvestro (63′ Beltrame)
|Primavera – “Group A”||PTS||GP||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD|
Allievi & Giovanissimi
The Allievi Nazionali (U-17s) have echoed the problems seen with the Primavera squad recently, crashing out of the Beppe Viola Cup at the Group Stage after losses to Lazio and Chievo. Led by Fabrizio Del Rosso, they did manage a win against Danish side Nordsjælland but it was not enough and they failed to progress any further.
Returning to league action against Livorno this past weekend they could only manage a 1-1 draw in which they took a lead via Francesco Mattiello – star of the season thus far at this level – who added yet another great goal to what has been a stellar campaign. After a second half equalizer Juve were unlucky not to snatch all three points though an Edoardo Ceria effort which must go down as a poor miss. They will hope to do much better next week in their next league fixture which sees Genoa travel to Turin.
Bizarrely it has been much the same story for the Giovanissimi Nazionali (U-15s) too, who last week lost 3-0 to Inter in the Semi-Final of the Manchester United Premier Cup. Coach Claudio Gabetta took his side to yet another difficult tournament and the team did very well, recording wins over Torino, Roma and, Milan.
The have another Turin derby coming up next week but secured their place at the top of Group A this Sunday thanks to a superb 3-0 win over Aurora Pro Patria. Confidence will be high among the boys – who never looked anything other than comfortable – with two goals from Riccardo Cabella securing the points after Alessio Sallustio’s first-half opener.
Golden Boy Award & Stadio Olimpico Hope
Two other brief pieces of good news this week for the Primavera, the first of which was the presentation of the Viareggio Golden Boy award – given to the tournaments best player – to attacking midfielder Leonardo Spinazzola. The 19 year-old, who’s performances at the competition were vital to the eventual Bianconeri triumph, followed in Ciro Immobile’s footsteps in receiving the award, given to him during Italian state broadcaster RAI’s much-watched TV show Domenica Sportiva programme.
Secondly, it was announced today – via the official AS Roma website – that the second leg of the Primavera Coppa Italia Final will be held at the capital city’s huge Stadio Olimpico in a move which echoes Juve’s decision to switch their own home leg to the Juventus Stadium earlier this month. The game takes place on Thursday March 22 at 20:30 CET and we must hope the grand setting inspires the Bianconeri to overturn Roma’s 2-1 lead.
In bocca al lupo ragazzi!