This post was guest-blogged by Vittorio Pazzini. Follow him on Twitter (@vittoriopazzini)
Everybody okay? Hanging in there?
One week down, one to go until a match that — this year — is far more difficult than anything the Milan clubs can throw at us: NAPOLI. In the meantime, we have two very important FIFA World Cup Qualifiers for the Azzurri on the slate, against Armenia and Denmark, hopefully starring many (or all) of our eight Bianconeri.
In today’s STTBS we’ll touch on those two contests, but there’s also plenty of pure, unadulterated Juve news. We’re going to play friendlies against Lega Pro teams with half our squad, duck punches from Andrea Agnelli, suffer with Antonio Conte at the hands of “justice,” celebrate greatness, get lost in translation, dream on the transfer market and check in with old friends, some more popular than others.
Here we go.
Agnelli Takes on Everybody
Perhaps in an effort to make amends for his weak excuses in the Champions League ticket controversy, Juve president Andrea Agnelli is shooting in all directions these days.
At a Leaders in Football conference at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea, Agnelli first took on Antonio Conte’s ongoing persecution at the hands of Italian sports authorities (see next STTBS item). While acknowledging the recent TNAS decision to reduce Conte’s ban significantly, Agnelli maintained that there was nothing there in the first place, and he is certain of his man’s innocence:
It took me just two minutes with Conte to understand his innocence. The disqualification came on the basis that he “could not NOT know”. With that in mind anyone can be guilty of anything.
As for his famous “miscarriage of justice” statements, Agnelli isn’t backing down:
I maintain my view, which is shared by everyone at Juventus, that Antonio Conte is an innocent man and in no way guilty of the charges leveled at him.
Next up, he took on the 2006 Farsopoli trial, which vilified Juventus to the wider world:
The conclusions were based on speculation. There was not a single shred of evidence against us. The decision was based on Article 1, relative to sporting behaviour. The conclusion was that if you behave in an anti-sporting manner three times, then it counts as sporting fraud, but there was no proof. It was all speculation. There is a court of justice that ruled that the 2005-06 season was not influenced in any way, and another court ruled that the previous season was never under investigation.
Finally, Agnelli trained his sights on UEFA, questioning whether they will have the courage to hold big-spending clubs accountable for violating Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, going on to query if the clubs themselves will even adhere to them.
Even if you have FFP are [UEFA] going to ban three teams from participating in the UCL? Who will go to say to the broadcasters we haven’t got the three teams playing? Is there going to be a correction in the overall value of the TV rights?
Juventus are working with FFP in mind. I am curious to see who is working with FFP in mind—really. And once the FFP rules come into effect, I am curious as to how effective that will be and how the actual punishments will be distributed in case someone breaches financial fair play.
Wow! That is a veritable onslaught! I’m almost relieved, now that it’s over..
But wait! Just when you thought he was through, Andrea spun around and delivered a roundhouse kick at the John Terry racism case! Terry was acquitted of racial abuse by a civil court, but still serves a sporting ban.
When you talk about how sports justice works against civil justice, the same accusation against John Terry proved the guy not guilty in one and guilty in the other on the same accusation. I find that very weird. Sport is autonomous but not independent. I find it very difficult to understand.
I didn’t even see that last one coming! This is the Andrea we love, the one who always stands up for what is right, even in cases that don’t even concern him! Andiamo Andrea!
Conte’s on Trial Again
Want further proof that Antonio Conte is the victim of a witch-hunt?
After his unjust ban was reduced to a relatively manageable (but still ludicrous) four months, poor Antonio is now set to face a disciplinary commission for comments he made in the Greatest Press Conference of All Time. Responding to the FIGC’s upholding of a 10-month ban, Conte said, amongst other things, that he was being made a scapegoat, and that one of the judges had something personal against him.
Seriously? This is what the Italian sporting authorities have to stoop for revenge against someone who dared to fight their charges, which were completely fabricated in the first place? A decision like this proves without a shadow of a doubt that what Conte said was absolutely true, simply because the “authorities” are again exhibiting the exact same behavior of which Conte protested.
I fear they understand irony even less than Alanis Morissette.
Italia’s Armenian Adventure
ItalJuve are playing Armenia for the first time later today, and Cesare Prandelli is taking no chances in sizing up the threat they pose.
They are a team evolving. They are a modern team who are great going forward. We have watched a video of their last three or four games, and we need to watch out for their attackers. We must respect the opposition, and play with the intensity the game deserves.
Not always an easy task for the Azzurri, as they tend to play to the level of their competition. But Prandelli knows that this time, they can’t afford to be slack:
The team is aware of what we have to do. We need to play at a high pace tomorrow night. We have talked about tactics, and positioning during the game, but that is all. We have been concentrating all week, and the entire team looks to be in a different frame of mind (from the last round of fixtures). Even the practice matches have been intense.
Yesterday, Prandelli experimented with two approaches.
One, his customary 4-3-1-2, featured Montolivo behind strikers GIOVINCO and Balotelli. De Rossi joined PIRLO and MARCHISIO in midfield, and in defense, in a slightly surprising move, Prandelli chose Criscito over CHIELLINI, while still keeping Maggio on the right, which is sort of baffling. The second approach was a 4-3-3, with Osvaldo in for Montolivo.
Osvaldo is almost certain to start. However, reports from Armenia are saying that Balotelli has the flu, and might be scratched entirely. In that event, we can assume Giovinco will start.
Maggio, Barzagli, Bonucci, Criscito
De Rossi, Pirlo, Marchisio
3 Juventus Players on Ballon D’Or List
Six Italians have been nominated for the prestigious Golden Ball trophy as best player in Europe. Better yet, three of them are Bianconeri.
Congratulations to Gigi BUFFON, Andrea PIRLO and Claudio MARCHISIO for making the 153-man shortlist to win the coveted prize, as well as the other Italians nominated: Antonio Di Natale, Daniele De Rossi and Mario Balotelli.
Only Spain has had more players listed, with 10. Here’s the lowdown, per Football Italia:
The 53 players will be cut to 23 on October 30. It will then be down to national team coaches and captains, as well as journalists, to vote for the winner. The three finalists will be revealed on November 30, with the winner to be unveiled on January 7.
I assume most people will be touting either Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, or Andrés Iniesta for the top spot, but I ask them to consider this: What exactly is the purpose of playing soccer? Is it simply to be individually impressive, or to win as a team, or some combination of the two?
There are those who play relatively selfishly and win La Liga (Ronaldo), those who are absolute phenomena but won nothing this year (Messi), and then there are those who play selflessly in concert with their teammates, and not only take a relatively ragtag team to the top of Serie A, but come a few-days’-rest-short of repeating the same feat with their ragtag country?
Andrea Pirlo personally was touched by genius last season. Juve won, and Italy excelled, in large part due to him. Ronaldo and Messi do very little with their respective national teams, and although Ronaldo’s Real Madrid won La Liga, Pirlo was a catalyst for club and country.
That’s why he should win.
Del Piero Explains Liverpool Snub (Again)
One of the things I’ve enjoyed the most as a calcio fan is how English-speaking outlets use the inherent ambiguity of translation as an excuse to subtly spin an article one way or another.
London’s Telegraph ran an interesting interpretation of an interview our beloved capitano, Alessandro Del Piero, gave to the Gazzetta dello Sport. If you read Marco’s excellent translation of the Del Piero interview, you will know that Alex covered a variety of topics. However, the British paper chose to focus on ADP’s reason for rejecting Liverpool’s advances this summer.
British paper, British angle. Fair play, right? Well, there are small changes involved, some innocuous, some that can actually distort meaning. Here’s Marco’s translation of the straight interview:
Why did you say no to Liverpool?
“Negotiations with Sydney FC were already at an advanced stage and then I thought about Heysel and what happened there. Juve and Liverpool have been able to reconstruct their relationship, but for many people that tragedy is an indelible memory.”
And here’s the pull-quote from the Telegraph:
“Why I said no to Liverpool? Talks with Sydney were already in an advanced stage when Liverpool came knocking, and then I thought about what had happened at Heysel. Juventus and Liverpool have been able to rebuild their relationship, but that tragedy will forever be on the mind of many people.”
Same basic meaning, right? But it’s the little liberties taken that impress me. The paper is obviously focusing on Heysel in the first place to get a rise out of people, by making Del Piero’s decision seem at worst to be slightly antagonistic towards Liverpool, or at best, anything other than what it actually was: a no-brainer. This entire article, whose content is largely inoffensive, exists solely to make that sensationalized headline. Maybe the writer was a Chelsea fan. He’s definitely a writer, though; it’s hard to imagine Del Piero using the phrase “Liverpool came knocking.”
In any event, no one doubts that Alex made the right decision. While Liverpool as a club are not their fans, I think we can all applaud a bandiera like Del Piero for choosing against stirring bad memories by playing in the shadow of such a senseless and devastating tragedy for Juventini, peaceful Liverpool fans and people who just enjoy being generally decent to other people.
But in other cases, the article pieces answers from two different questions into one quote, to imply a more definitive sense of bitterness on Alex’s part towards how his tenure at Juve ended. Marco’s straight translation:
In hindsight: wasn’t it better to end things this way, with the Scudetto, and the celebration?
“There is no evidence to the contrary. Of course the day went really well. But goodbyes always leave a bad taste in your mouth.”
Did you ever think things with Juve would end this way?
“No. A year and a half ago I would’ve never imagined. Then things change. I’m left with the the immense satisfaction of having given Juve everything that I could.”
Now here’s how it ends up looking in the pages of the Telegraph:
“The farewell to Juve still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. One year and a half ago I would not have imagined that this would happen, then things change. I still have the great satisfaction of having given everything I could for Juventus.”
Not quite the same emotional content. In the straight translation, Alex takes the same stance he’s always taken: he makes a classy, diplomatic statement that still manages to convey a sense of general, non-accusatory sadness. The Telegraph subtly suggests someone who is still bitter. Of course, he would have every right to be, but that’s not how he’s expressed himself in public.
It seems to me that the Telegraph is interested in hyping the Heysel disaster, and painting Pinturicchio with broad strokes.
Pogba x 3, Matri x 2
In the absence of 16 bianconeri, Antonio Conte pitted the remainder of his squad against Lega Pro Second Division outfit Savona in an afternoon friendly yesterday. I can’t imagine there’s anything friendly about the 5-1 thrashing administered by Mezzo-Juve.
The hero of the day was Paul Pogba, who according to Juventus.com scored a hat-trick. Close behind him was Alessandro Matri, who added a brace to the final tally.
Cannavaro: “Juve need a Cavani”
You can take the boy out of Napoli…
Ex-bianconeri Fabio Cannavaro could not resist getting in a tiny dig at Juventus in advance of their Napoli encounter next weekend:
Juventus would be stellar with Cavani. He is the kind of top player that they were looking for in the summer. He works hard for the team, he doesn’t leave any reference points and he scores goals. For a defender, he is an opponent that you don’t see but feel.
He goes on about Juve-Napoli, giving a graduate course in stating the obvious:
It won’t decide the Scudetto. Both sides like to win by playing their brand of football and they line up in a similar way. But there is a difference in how they score. Antonio Conte’s Juve attack as a unit, whereas Napoli leave it to their three attackers.
He also mentions casually that both teams will be in uniform and will play the match on a pitch in front of an audience of people.
The Big Lewandowski
As with New Year’s Resolutions, many people talk about what will transpire in January’s transfer market, but rarely do these rumors turn into reality. But we want to believe in something, and so everyone, whether Juve’s friend or foe Juve swoop for a striker.
To that end, reports in Italy have suggested that Juve sporting director Fabio Paratici will be in the stands for Poland’s World Cup qualifier against England in Warsaw. He will not be looking for good handmade pirogi, but rather evaluating forward Robert Lewandowski’s prospects in black-and-white.
The Polish international has been linked to every club who can afford to print their own jerseys, thanks to his 30 Bundesliga goals last season for Borussia Dortmund. As usual, Manchester United are interested, which is meaningless, because they’re interested in everybody.
In other transfer news, the Italian agent of Man U defender Nemanja Vidic, Silvano Martina, was obliged to offer a routine dismissal of rumors that his client would join Juve or Barcelona. He told ITA Sport Press:
Vidic is not playing at this time because he’s had surgery, so he’s only thinking about his recovery and not about the transfer market. Juventus are complete with their non-EU players for this season and it is highly unlikely they will make a bid for Vidic, therefore I can categorically rule out any interest from them. Vidic is already part of a top club and there are no negotiations with Juventus or Barcelona.
Vidic is no stranger to the treatment table. We need an injury-prone defender like we need Marco Motta and Jonathan Zebina to return and fuse into one ubersucking suckmonster.
Juventus Makes New Sponsorship Deal
Juventus has made a sponsorship deal for 2012-13 with Italian high-speed train service Frecciarossa, which connects Turin, Milan, Bologna, Florence, Rome and Naples with, as Juventus.com puts it, “optimal standards of comfort, safety and environmental awareness.” Here are the details:
The agreement provides the sponsor with visibility rights, with the company’s logo to be displayed on pitch side LED screens and on the club’s official website.The prestigious partnership could also see further important benefits develop over the course of the season, such as the Bianconeri’s use of the service for certain away trips.
I hope it will be much more difficult for a group of wealthy-but-still-crazy Napoli tifosi to hijack a train of this reputed sophistication. Of course, anything can happen.
That’s all for now. Italy plays Armenia tonight. As for Serie A, sit tight for one more week, Juventini – Napoli’s almost here! See you next week.
[STTBS]: Juventus News is a daily feature where the JuventiKnows editorial team discusses the JuveNews stories you need to read, without the “Messi signs for Juve on loan thanks to Nike” kind of nonsense. What does [STTBS] mean? You’ll have to guess that for yourself. We wouldn’t tell you even under pain of torture… (though we do take bribes)