Ciao, everyone! Time for a quick STTBS update on all things Juve.
And what, exactly, is going on? Nothing but scoring, apparently.
The Bianconeri are all but setting the tifosi on fire at their preseason camp at Val d’Aosta, dazzling them with endless running (what else is new), interesting flicks between strike partners and cheeky chips over junior keepers. But most importantly, they’re scoring goals.
Of course, it’s just the preseason; the competition is less than fierce, most often second-, third- or fourth-rate, and the pressure of even an ordinary Serie A match will more than likely make some of those flicks and chips a decidedly dicey proposition. But would rather have them underwhelm us?
Meanwhile, there is not much to report on the transfer market. Marotta and co. seem to be locked in a series of mild Mexican standoffs with various clubs, mostly concerning the purchase of a winger to keep Antonio Conte’s trident sharp. Fiorentina took the money and sold Stevan Jovetic to Fiorentina, but at this point, who really cares? He was too expensive, too made of glass, and far too Viola for our tastes.
Just over the horizon is a tournament we must lose (TIM Trophy) and one it would be nice to win (the newly named Guinness Cup, a.k.a the USA tour). But for now, we’re going to stick to what we know.
Which is goals. New buses and goals.
Goals Galore at Chatillon
We wanted goals, and it looks as though we’re going to get them — at least more than we did last season.
On Wednesday, Juve held their first official friendly of the season, a 7-0 destruction of Aygreville, a side made up of apparently hapless players from the Val d’Aosta region. The official site was quick to frame the match as a coming-out party for the new additions to the squad:
All three of the club’s new star signings started the match, and they began it well. Carlos Tevez flicked on nicely to Fernando Llorente in the first minute, and the Spaniard nearly headed in moments later after Paolo De Ceglie (tireless throughout the first half) had burst along the wing to a crossing position at the byline. Angelo Ogbonna enjoyed a steady start to life in the main central defensive role, disguising his direction to jink past an onrushing defender on one notable occasion.
Gotta love a good jink. However, despite the sunny report from the Mothership, I detected one troubling sign. Read this next passage very carefully:
The wings were the main areas where Juve created danger in the early stages, with Stephan Lichtsteiner and Marco Motta combining well. No sooner had the Swiss wing-back created a goalscoring chance on the right flank, De Ceglie on the other fired a low ball right across the face of goal that Llorente was a whisker away from turning home at the far post. The new Bianconeri frontman was the creator of the team’s breakthrough, cutting back inside from the left corner and chipping past all the Aygreville defenders to the far post, where Marco Motta tucked it home on 32 minutes.
Good to see Motta doing so — WAIT! MARCO MOTTA is playing for us again, even temporarily? I need to collect myself…
Okay, I’m back.
Another surprise (perhaps a more pleasant one) was the performance of young Fausto Rossi, who is impressing in what is likely an audition for another loan spell this season:
Fausto Rossi, who dictated the game to good effect, then showed invention with the ball at his feet, chipping past a crowd of men from the edge of the box with a pass that narrowly evaded Lichtsteiner. The youngster always made himself available while sitting deep in the midfield, allowing Arturo Vidal to roam relatively free in a more advanced position.
Sounds effective in a vaguely Pirlo-esque manner, and Fausto may one day even help us to forget Marco “The One Who Got Away” Verratti (if we haven’t already — thanks Paul Pogba).
Continuing his (hopefully extended) honeymoon with Juve tifosi, new No. 10 Carlos Tevez converted just before halftime — and then the floodgates opened.
The second half saw an all-new lineup greet the unfortunate minnows, spearheaded by Alessandro Matri:
Alessandro Matri was put through on goal in the first minute of the half, but was unable to go round substitute goalkeeper Anile Alessandro. He fared much better minutes later: Padoin kept the game moving in midfield by taking a quick free-kick to Motta, who put Matri through one on one, and the 28-year-old duly tucked it away to make the score 3-0 to the Bianconeri.
There’s that Motta again… good thing I’m dreaming.
The Juventus forwards’ link up play was equally promising in the second half, with Matri, Mirko Vucinic and Fabio Quagliarella taking their turn to show good understanding.
Indeed, the competition for the other striking spots is fiercer than at any time in recent memory — and that’s even before Sebastian Giovinco throws his hat into the ring. It will be sad to see anyone go, but this current good form ensures that either the selected forwards will approach the season with optimism, or Juve will take advantage of their exploits and possibly make a tidier profit from their sale.
The demolition was finished off by two Vucinic penalties, a Matri nightcap and an impressive strike by Primavera standout Federico Mattiello (see Primavera item below).
Following Wednesday’s triumph, the Bianconeri kept up their prolific form yesterday with a mini-match among the entire first-team squad. Conte started the match by making an interesting stipulation: each player was allowed only one touch. Here’s what followed:
It was a session that promises much for the 2013/14 season ahead. Conte will be pleased that the little flicks and touches of interplay between the frontmen are increasingly finding their targets as the pre-season training camp progresses.
It was Fabio Quagliarella, the stand-out player today with the possible exception of Angelo Ogbonna, who scored the first goal for the side in yellow. The 30-year-old fired into the bottom corner from outside the box to give his side the advantage. Simone Padoin levelled things with a clinical volley from a Carlos Tevez flick-up, before the Argentine himself put one past Rubinho to continue his fine striking form and put his team in front.
With the game poised under Conte’s one-touch rule, the manager called to signal free play, and it was a change that produced a decisive climax. It was Alessandro Matri’s turn to shine: he pulled off the neatest finish of the day with a chip over the onrushing goalie and did the exact same moments later to win the game.
All in all, a very productive week for the Bianconeri, as they head into stiffer preseason competition in the next few weeks. There may not be as many goals as the opponents grow more formidable, but rest assured that Conte will have the best-prepared squad out there.
Motta 32, Tevez 45+1, Matri 50, Vucinic (pen) 71, Vucinic (pen) 75, Mattiello 89, Matri 90+1
JUVENTUS first half:
Storari; Motta, Ogbonna, Garcia Tena; Lichsteiner, Vidal, Rossi, Asamoah, De Ceglie; Tevez, Llorente
JUVENTUS second half:
Rubinho; Penna (Untersee 77), Magnusson, Peluso; Motta (Isla 63), Padoin, Sakor (Emmanuello 77), Buchel (Mattiello 83); Vucinic, Quagliarella, Matri
Substitutes not used: Citti
Conte on Aygreville Friendly, Formations, Transfers
It’s safe to assume that Antonio Conte is much happier with his squad these days.
As usual, he won’t readily admit it. But his request for more (and higher-quality) signings has been paying dividends in training camp.
As far as the press is concerned, the Juve manager sees nothing but positives following the Aygreville match, despite the obvious kinks to work out at the beginning of any new season:
I’m happy at how the new signings fared, but also pleased with the way the other players performed. We’re working well and everyone’s committed, that’s what puts my mind at rest. It’s understandable that our legs aren’t going to be as fresh because they’re starting to feel the effects of the workload over the past few days.
As for rumors that the new signings will allow for tactical flexibility and maybe even a formation change, Conte is keeping his own counsel for now:
We’ve won the Scudetto over the last two seasons, so I don’t see why we need to change. We’ll play as we always have. We got to the quarter-finals of the Champions League in our first experience of the competition, playing beautiful football on the way. We’ll thus continue to do that.
Overall, Conte is very happy with the ongoing integration of the new players into his tactical scheme:
I’m happy with how the new signings fared, but also pleased with the way the other players performed. We’re working well and everyone’s committed, that’s what puts my mind at rest. Tevez, Llorente and Ogbonna are learning to memorize certain situations in the way we play, a few movements and that is certainly positive.
And finally, with several mercato solutions still up in the air, Conte assures us that Marotta, Paratici and Agnelli know what they’re doing:
If all six strikers remain I will be happy because there will be room for those who deserve it. This is beyond doubt. We will play how we have always played. The club know what needs to be done, there is no need for me to tell you our plans. There is a strategy.
“Strategy.” The operative word since Conte has taken over, and — considering those dark days post-2006 are hardly a distant memory — hopefully one we’ll never take for granted.
Marotta and the Latest Mercato Updates
It’s been a murky few weeks in the mercato, especially after the relative bombast of the Tevez, Llorente and Ogbonna additions.
Thankfully, in an interview with Sky Sport Italia (via Football Italia), Giuseppe Marotta stepped in to give us all an official update on the various pieces of business being conducted in the Old Lady’s name.
First, Beppe tackled the confusing twist in the Mauricio Isla/Inter story. Whether or not Juve are fully committing to giving Isla another chance — or whether they just have a heart and don’t want to subject anyone to an experience at Inter — it looks like Isla’s off the market:
At this moment in time, Isla is not available for transfer. Mauricio was of interest to Inter. We sat down around a table to evaluate the offer financially and technically. However, right now, and in agreement with the Coach, we don’t think that he should be made available. Isla is our player.
This announcement follows Antonio Conte’s similar statement of the club’s apparent reassessment of Isla’s value for this year’s campaign:
Isla is a Juventus player. He is my player. I am very happy to be his Coach. He had a difficult season last year because he was coming back from a serious injury. I am convinced that this year he will have a great season, so I am happy to have him in the squad and train him. He will play for a place on the wing. I do not see any problems. We must not put the cart before the horse.
Next, Marotta addressed the situation of Mirko Vucinic, who reports say is questioning whether he will be able to secure enough playing time with the additions of Tevez and Llorente. Beppe insists that nothing is happening at present:
Vucinic is, like everyone else in the squad, a valuable player and he deserves respect. It is only normal that competition for places increases with new signings, but the Coach will make his considerations game by game. Competition is positive and not negative. At this moment there are not the conditions in place to sell Vucinic.
Of course, whether or not Vucinic himself will seriously push to leave is another matter entirely.
The fact remains that despite Conte being content with six strikers (see previous item), Marotta would like to shave at least one from that total:
We know that we have too many forwards and we want to start the season with five in the squad, but to sell you need the right offer and the desire of the player to leave as was the case with Emanuele Giaccherini.
Other transfer moves? If an opportunity presents itself then we’ll take advantage of that, but right now there are no opportunities that could become concrete in the near future. We have to respect our financial parameters, but we’ll look to remain number one in Italy and be super competitive in Europe.
Those parameters still are in place, despite the recent reports that Juve actually made more money from last year’s Champions League than winners Bayern Munich! But that’s what debt will do to you, I guess.
Elsewhere in the transfer market, it looks like Luca Marrone, for so long a key component of Marotta’s low-ball offer to Fiorentina for Jovetic, is now unavailable for transfer. Whether or not that has to do with the sale of Emanuele Giaccherini to Sunderland is unknown, but we do know that Conte has tenaciously stuck with Marrone, even when loaning him out would probably benefit him more.
Finally, the search for another winger goes on, with the list of names including Napoli’s Juan Camilo Zuniga, Parma’s Jonathan Biabiany and Man City’s Aleksandar Kolarov. At the moment, Zuniga is being linked most often to Juve, and there have even been reports (probably spurious) that personal terms are in place.
But we’re dealing with Napoli here — I wouldn’t trust anything that isn’t officially official.
Zanchetta New Primavera Coach (Assisted By Fabio Grosso!)
The Primavera squad have a new coach, as the outgoing Marco Baroni is replaced by 38-year-old Andrea Zanchetta, recently retired as a player after kicking around in the lower leagues.
According to Juventus.com, Zanchetta inspected his troops at Vinovo for the first time recently. Playing Robin to his Batman was a familiar face:
Andrea Zanchetta’s reign as Primavera coach is officially underway after he welcomed his new-look squad back to Juventus Center for this afternoon’s start of pre-season. Zanchetta, who replaces Marco Baroni in the hot seat, was accompanied by first-team coach and former Bianconeri defender Fabio Grosso in greeting the 26-man squad at the club’s training complex.
You read that correctly, although the job title, as stated above, is misleading: Fabio Grosso will be the second-in-command under Zanchetta, as he attempts to work his way up the coaching ranks.
And for an old-time Grosso tifoso like myself, this is good news. I was incredibly excited to see him transfer to Juve, and equally as disappointed by his pretty dismal tenure with us. But, seeing as how I will always love him for 2006 in general, I’m very happy for Fabio to get another chance to make a more positive contribution to the Bianconeri, in whatever capacity.
For the time being, Zanchetta will be missing some key squad members who are training with Antonio Conte’s in Chatillon. Chief among them is Federico Mattiello, who scored in the 7-0 thrashing of Aygreville by confidently rounding the keeper in the dying minutes. You’ll also remember Federico from his extra-time clincher against Napoli in the Primavera Coppa Italia — in enemy territory, no less.
The Primavera start training camp on Saturday in Val d’Aosta. Check out the full provisional squad here.
In bocca al lupo, Andrea, Fabio e ragazzi!
The All-New Bianconeri Bus
As expected, the relentless quest for innovation throughout the entire Juventus organization extends to transport, as evidenced by the unveiling of the team’s new bus.
Here’s the official description:
Juventus began their 2013/14 season in style by travelling to their pre-season training camp in Chatillon aboard the team’s brand new Iveco bus. The vehicle – a Magelys HDH – is black in colour and personalised with the club’s official logo. It is also emblazoned with words from the official Bianconeri anthem.
Every minute detail has been expertly crafted to ensure Antonio Conte’s champions travel in the utmost comfort and style. The bus features 44 black seats complete with white headrests. Each position includes USB and headphone sockets for all those on board.
The Bianconeri’s new vehicle is also fitted with a Wi-Fi 4G internet connection and three televisions offering access to satellite and terrestrial channels.
Sadly, the above description fails to include any information whatsoever on how the no doubt state-of-the-art windows will fare against the rocks, sticks, fireworks and other projectiles sure to be encountered when meeting certain groups of opposing tifosi.
But it sure makes a bella figura, which I’m sure was a, if not the, primary objective.
Del Piero: Take Care of the No. 10, Carlos
We leave you some friendly advice from our Alex Del Piero to the man who now wears his number, as told to Sky Sport Italia:
I thank Tevez for his kind words about me at his official unveiling. I hope that he wears the No 10 shirt with love.
Simple, elegant, direct, and just a bit heartbreaking, pretty much like everything ADP has said in the past year or so.
Make him (and us) proud, Carlos!
That’s all for now. See you next week as Juve prepare to purposefully lose the TIM Trophy and pack for the USA tour. Plus all the latest transfer updates, real or imagined, from around the Ju-niverse.
[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)