What the hell is going on this week?
On Tuesday, we reported the imminent signing of Carlos Tevez with guarded optimism, if not outright jubilation. We took the news for what we thought it was — a much-needed reinforcement for our attack.
Two days later, Tevez has been crowbarred into Juve’s sacred mythology and is being positioned by the management as nothing less than a calcio messiah, and now we’re all running for cover from what some in the press are calling Marotta’s Revenge.
Meanwhile, in Brazil, amidst stifling heat, extreme exhaustion and political protests, the Bianconeri internationals who form the backbone of the Italian national team gave world-beaters Spain the fight of their lives, taking them to the brink of elimination in the Confederations Cup. It would be considered a classic match — if it meant anything.
We cover both of these developments below, plus the latest transfer rumors and news from around the Ju-niverse.
Let’s begin. But first, I hope you’re sitting down…
JUVE GIVE TEVEZ NO. 10!
Is it just me, or is this completely insane?
Sivori, Platini, Baggio, Del Piero… Tevez?
Before yesterday’s official unveiling of Carlos Tevez, the Argentine’s signing was, to my mind, an occasion for cautious optimism. A striker with a proven track record is to be welcomed here, even if he was for many of us a second or third choice. I expected the usual tempered speech from Giuseppe Marotta and a media-trained “I’ll give my all” speech from Tevez, and the assigning of a number either befitting his position on the pitch or one of a more personal significance.
Then Juve gave Carlos Tevez the No. 10 jersey — before he’s played a minute in Turin.
If you needed further proof that Juventus are content to ride roughshod over the legacy of Alessandro Del Piero, the best player in their history, than surely this baffling decision satisfied your paranoia (I realize I’m speaking to myself here). Wasn’t Juve’s No. 10 jersey a signifier not only of a fuoriclasse talent, but a very particular kind, one with specific, ultra-creative abilities? And can Tevez fit this particular bill?
He’s a pure scorer, a star even — but is he a talisman?
The decision also could have further implications on the rest of our mercato. Were we not considering bestowing the No. 10 on Stevan Jovetic, were he to arrive? Of course, he may not want it (and I don’t think he or anyone else deserves Juve’s No. 10 without playing here for at least a year), but what does it the assigning of it to Tevez tell Jovetic of our priorities? And what else does it say that this deal was made with another of Jovetic’s suitors? Are we essentially giving Jovetic away to Man City, and if so, why are we favoring Tevez over him?
We can’t ask Beppe Marotta, because he’s too busy acting like a mad scientist (“Ha! And you all called me ‘provincial,’ eh? Who’s small-time now?”).
I was hoping Tevez was only the first major acquisition for the attack, and there may indeed be others. But Marotta’s comments at the press conference betrayed not only a startling degree of vindictiveness, but also a serious amount of self-satisfaction, enough to make me wonder whether he either believes Tevez is our first-choice “top player” or is merely trying to pass him off as that.
I have a feeling he would have said the following no matter who he signed (I imagine he practiced this speech in the mirror for two years):
Yesterday was a day of great excitement. This deal is also a response to certain skepticism levelled towards myself and the club by certain people. The value and prestige of Juventus certainly helped convince Tévez to come here.
I still recall that just two years ago, many players turned us down. Instead, today, there are plenty of players, also important ones, who want to join us. Our success over the past two years and Andrea Agnelli’s arrival have brought new appeal to the club. We can say with pride that Juventus are now back where they belong.
Since when does a sporting director mention himself in a forum like this? “Inappropriate” doesn’t even begin to cover it. And what’s wrong with a healthy skepticism? We certainly deserve to feel it now!
And how about the heat he’s putting on his new signing? Carlos Tevez is to be solely responsible for Juve’s restoration as a world football giant? That’s an incredible amount of pressure to put on a new signing. And that’s to say nothing of giving him the No. 10 jersey!
Here’s Marotta on that subject:
We know the number 10 is an attractive shirt of great value, worn in the past by players who have excited the fans and often also been key figures and captains of the club, such as Sivori, Platini, Baggio and Del Piero.
We all know about their achievements, above all those of Alessandro, who wore the shirt in recent years. When Carlitos expressed his desire to take the number 10, we realized that the right moment had come to reassign it. He fits the right profile to shoulder the responsibility that comes with such a shirt.
He’s already referring to him by a nickname. This signing has megalomania written all over it.
As we would expect, Carlos, for his part, is saying all the right things (although it’s troubling that he felt the need to promise upfront to behave himself and respect Conte):
Juventus are a great club and this is just one of the reasons why I came here. But above all they’re a unique club who showed how much they wanted me, there was a clear dialogue with myself and my collaborators. Andrea Agnelli, Giuseppe Marotta and Fabio Paratici have always demonstrated their desire to bring me to Turin. I’m delighted to be here at Juventus.
Interestingly enough, Tevez tempered some of his individual expectations by vowing to conform to the collective character of the club under Antonio Conte:
Four years ago, I chose to move to Manchester City because of the targets they were aiming for. I wanted to play in the Champions League and help the team win a league title after a long absence.
I’ve noted the same ambitions at Juventus. They want to keep finishing first in Italy, as they’ve done over the past two years, and aspire to win the Champions League. This made my decision easier.
During these two years, Juventus have shown themselves to be a great team. As far as I’m concerned, I’ll try and bring my experience and quality. The side features great champions such as Buffon and Pirlo, with whom I’m sure it will be very easy to play alongside. What interests me the most, however, is the team itself. That’s why I’m not thinking about topping the goalscoring charts. If the team play well and win, it will be easier for me to achieve personal goals.”
I promise I’ll give everything on the field of play and make every effort to ensure that Juventus keep winning.
As for being the new No. 10, Carlos cites his previous experience wearing the number as proof that he can handle the job:
The responsibility is something I already experienced at Boca Juniors when they gave me Maradona’s number 10. Juve’s number 10 has been worn by great champions in the past, such as Del Piero, who was the captain and symbol of this team. It will be an honor for me to continue this tradition.
Maradona, eh? Well, it’s a start. Let’s just hope Tevez can make us proud. For now, we can be happy that we have an apparently fan-approved, talented striker with a cool nickname (The Apache).
But by taking the No. 10, Tevez just upgraded his expectations from a “hopefully he’ll score 15 goals” to “he better capture our collective imagination while spearheading a return to European prominence.”
That’s a tall order. In bocca al lupo, Carlos!
ItalJuve Take Spain to Limit in Semifinal
Leave it to the Azzurri to frustrate you to the point of indifference, then come back with a bravura performance against the best national team on the planet.
In yesterday’s Confederations Cup semifinal, Italia shut out Spain, who scored 10 goals in a single game in this very tournament. For the majority of the match, Italy took the game to Spain, especially in the first half. Even when inevitable fatigue set in, the Azzurri held their ground, led by a flawless Gigi Buffon. They even managed to further threaten the surging Spaniards from time to time in the very late going, exhausted as they were.
Unfortunately, despite several wonderful chances, including a shot off the post by — guess who — Emanuele Giaccherini, the Azzurri couldn’t score themselves, and a 0-0 draw led to penalties. After running neck-and-neck in the shootout, poor Leo Bonucci launched his shot over the bar, and Spain are now facing Brazil on Sunday in the final.
I had a bad feeling when Leo Bonucci went up to take the penalty. He didn’t seem sure of himself the way the previous six Azzurri had. If anything, he should have taken heart that Casillas was beaten, if not worse, than certainly as bad as Buffon. It must be embarrassing to have someone like Antonio Candreva chip you like that.
I just hope Leo doesn’t lose heart, especially considering the tournament is nothing but a dress rehearsal for the World Cup. Of course, such was the spirit with which Italy played, so riveting was the tension as the match went on, that you can’t blame Leo or any of the Azzurri for feeling slightly devastated. Still, they were one moment of quality away from beating Spain (imagine what Balotelli could have done), and even Casillas himself considered Spain lucky to pass through to the final.
Cesare Prandelli saluted his men after the match, dedicating the performance to the memory of Milan and Fiorentina striker Stefano Borgonovo, who passed away hours before the match after suffering from ALS (the Azzurri wore black armbands in his honor):
When you reach penalties, anything can happen. We had a great performance and were in it from start to finish, creating many scoring opportunities.
Spain are ahead of us because they have worked on these concepts for many years, while we are still seeking our path. In terms of character, determination and tactics, we are improving.
These atmospheric conditions were absurd, as it was impossible to have energy left after 120 minutes. The lads were truly touching in the way they fought today.
Of course we dedicate this performance to Stefano Borgonovo and his family, who faced his fate with great courage.
Giorgio Chiellini not only marshalled the defense for 120 minutes (Andrea Barzagli went off at halftime with a muscular problem), but still managed to help keep Spain out while suffering from cramps for the last 10 minutes:
We are disappointed by the result, as we had confidence and knew the Euro 2012 Final was not really us. It was affected by a crazy fixture list, as you can’t have three days to recover from a semi-final to a final. We were confident we’d have a good game and in all honesty it went better than expected, as if there was a team that should’ve won tonight it was us.
There are regrets, as we should have been 2-0 up by half-time. Obviously as the energy levels drop and fatigue sets in, you can get sliced apart by players like Andres Iniesta, especially when losing Andrea Barzagli to injury.
In extra time I couldn’t wait for it to end, as I was wrecked. The heat was incredible, we were struggling to breathe and could barely finish the match. It’s a shame and we go out with heads held high, but Spain should’ve been in that position rather than us. At the moment all we feel is frustration.
Giorgio also tried to offer some consolation to his defensive partner for club and country:
I tried to console Bonucci, but there are no words that can make a difference in these moments. Leo was unlucky, he took the responsibility and that ought to be appreciated. You can only miss a penalty if you take one. If Roberto Baggio could miss in a World Cup Final, then anyone could.
We were aware Spain were strong, but also aware that we could hurt them. Spain were frightened after the break and didn’t press us anymore, as they were afraid of our counters. We didn’t play catenaccio, as we created several scoring opportunities and moved the ball around well.
Despite the loss, Italy are not able to leave Brazil just yet: There’s the matter of the ridiculous third-place match with Martin Caceres’ Uruguay, to be played on Sunday. It’s safe to say that absolutely wants to play this match. That includes Giorgio:
Now it’s unthinkable to prepare for another game in two and a half days, played at lunchtime in this heat. It feels like torture. The organizers have to look at the fixture list and consider the health of the players.
Before the Confederations Cup I said we should see this as preparation for the World Cup. We played Brazil without Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi. Today we deserved to win against Spain, so there is clearly some growth.
Now, if Prandelli is sane, he will play an entirely new starting XI in the consolation game vs. Uruguay. Certainly NO PIRLO, NO BUFFON, NO CHIELLINI — no one who made it the distance vs. Spain. Let the subs start, the starters sit, and the bench make up the numbers. Mister, make the Confederations Cup worth a damn — play some of the new generation!
And don’t lose heart, Leo!
Feel like you’ve been hit by a Buick with this Tevez/No. 10 business? (I would have made it a Fiat, but it’s not big or broad enough to serve as an apt metaphor in this case.)
I sympathize. Alas, the Ju-niverse carries on regardless. Here’s what’s going on lately.
- The Italian Super Cup between Juve and Lazio will take place at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on August 18. Lazio will get the €1.8 million they would have received had the match been played in Beijing, while Juve will get any leftover revenue. So Lazio get cash and a home-field advantage. You know, I can remember a time not so long ago when the Italian sporting authorities used to treat us unfairly…
- One word from Antonio Conte has officially taken Claudio Marchisio off the market. According to several sources, the Juve manager considers our Principino to be indispensable for next year’s domestic and international campaigns and has instructed the club to keep him off-limits. Now that’s authority, eh? I guess you can’t send a Marotta to do a Conte’s job.
- Many Bianconeri tifosi are upset that Carlos Tevez has been given Alex Del Piero’s No. 10 jersey. Join us again next time for STTBS PRESENTS: YA THINK?!
- Update: Angelo Ogbonna is still close to joining Juve. We’re still indifferent.
- Now that a rapport has been reached with Manchester City, Tevez’s teammate Alexsandar Kolarov wants to go to Juve as well. He’s reportedly even willing to take a pay cut. I suppose he wants No. 10.1 or something. I’m sure Marotta would give it to him, too.
- No clean getaway for Nicklas Bendtner: Tuttosport recently published a scathing piece about the striker who never struck, titled “How to Become an Idol without Scoring Goals.” The article pokes fun at his lavish, superstar lifestyle, calling him “the Keith Richards of strikers.” Seeing as how Keith Richards is no stranger to scoring (in every possible sense of that word), I don’t see how that applies to Bendtner.
- Inter have a personal agreement with Mauricio Isla; now all that remains is to make a deal with Juve. That will be €100 million, Mr. Moratti.
That’s all for now. Stay tuned next week, when we can expect a welcome reception for Fernando Llorente, and maybe even some definitive news on our other transfer targets — if Marotta hasn’t driven them all away.
In any case, let’s hope that the next time we speak, we’re once again discussing Juventus, rather than Tevez FC. A presto!
[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)