Great news, everyone — WE LOST!
That’s right: In what is becoming an annual tradition fueled by the kind of crippling superstition Italy does so well, Juventus failed to lift this year’s TIM Trophy, thus cosmically aligning themselves for another Scudetto (though of course not guaranteeing it outright).
Instead, the TIM Curse will be benignly carried by victors Sassuolo, who in all honesty will do well to merely stay up in the top flight this year. Grazie, amici!
Could our Bianconeri have given a better account of their preseason selves? Perhaps, but again, the point here was to lose. We can take heart that, if Juve’s attack failed to produce any goals over the tournament’s two scoreless 45-minute halves, they never conceded one either.
Now it’s on to America for the Tournament Formerly Known as the World Football Challenge, now called the Guinness International Cup (I heard they were close to changing the name to an unpronounceable symbol). Unlike the TIM Trophy, Juve are free and clear to win this one — and with the confirmed return of the Bianconeri internationals, I like their chances.
Conte on TIM Trophy: Oh Well…
The post-TIM Trophy media session must have been a tricky one for Antonio Conte.
The man famously wants to win — everything. But maybe he’s not immune to superstition. Maybe he’s in on the open secret that this is not a good tournament to win if you want to win in a much larger, much more meaningful sense (which he most certainly does). And maybe, just maybe, despite undoubtedly pushing his men to play for the win, Conte was pretty relieved to lose that trophy.
So then: How do you critique a wonderful loss? How do you properly lament missed chances you subconsciously didn’t want to convert in the first place?
Easy. You initially ignore the issue and fall back on that old chestnut “At least we have our health”:
The important thing is that we’ve finished the pre-season training camp and now this evening’s encounters without picking up any injuries.
That’s certainly good news, as Fernando Llorente was involved in a face-to-face collision with Milan’s Luca Antonini in the 33rd minute of Juve’s first match. Llorente seemed to be bleeding above and around his left eye and was subbed out as a precaution. However, it was a clear case of “you should see the other guy”: Antonini clearly got the worst of the encounter and was taken out on a stretcher.
Conte eventually got around to ruing those missed chances — after all, Antonio hates losing anything, however meaningless. But notice how he briefly considers the issue, then gives what amounts to a gigantic verbal shoulder shrug:
We didn’t concede, but we weren’t able to show much of what we’re capable of producing. It’s understandable, the lads have worked hard and had tired legs. In fact, I’d like to congratulate them for their commitment on pre-season.
Conte ended his remarks by expertly deflecting the inevitable question of whether he thinks Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente will be an effective strike partnership (get ready for many such deflections this season):
I’ve got a good set of strikers to choose from, and I will make decisions according to their performance in training during the week. Today, I tried to give all of them a game.
Masterfully played, Mister. You win again.
Coppa Italia Draw: See You in January
I know — exciting, right?
Unfortunately, we have to wait until Monday (the 29th) to see this season’s Serie A schedule, so today our consolation prize must be the release of the draw for the Coppa Italia.
Despite having much, much bigger fish to fry this year, the general domestic success of the Antonio Conte era has actually made Juve’s failure to win the Coppa Italia over the past few seasons seem more and more like a glaring oversight — we really should win this damn thing one of these years.
The Bianconeri will begin their participation in this year’s Coppa in relative comfort, having been seeded out of the opening stages:
Juventus are back among the seeds again this season (the top eight from the previous league season) and the club was drawn at number six and placed in the right-hand side of the draw.
Interestingly enough, this year Juve will very likely face a Serie B side in their first CI appearances, according to the luck of the draw:
The Bianconeri will begin their Coppa Italia campaign (at Juventus Stadium) in the last 16, on 9 January 2014. Among their possible opponents, only Cagliari are in Serie A, the same side they began their previous campaign against.
Following that first encounter, Juve would then theoretically be on more familiar ground (I feel like we’re always playing Roma or Milan every year):
Should both sides make it through, Juve could meet Roma in the quarter-finals, after the Giallorossi were drawn as number 3. The match would be played at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico on 22 January 2014.
The semi-finals will be played on 5 and 12 February, before the big final on 3 May. Aside from the final, all other fixtures are subject to change due to television scheduling.
Where will our Bianconeri be on May 3? Watching from the sidelines, having been bounced out of the competition in a moment of lapsed concentration? Playing in the final while nursing a post-Scudetto hangover? Or will the final — dare I say it — be a distraction from a deep run in Europe?
That’s the beauty of the Coppa Italia — whatever happens, it’s all good. You can increase or downplay its importance however you like. Well, pretty much — you wouldn’t want to ruin a possible Treble by losing it. But now the cart is so far ahead of the horse that I no longer even see it.
The point is, it’s another competition. And — TIM Trophy aside — Juve like to win competitions.
So let’s win the damn thing one of these years.
Lightning Round: Them’s Fightin’ Words!
Things are getting feisty around here: Mirko’s mixing it up with fans, Napoli’s declaring war (or is it secretly love?).
- Mirko Vucinic was involved in an altercation with a fan during Juve’s training session on Sunday. The fan reportedly insulted Vucinic after he failed to score during a practice match, at which point Mirko approached him demanding an explanation, got into a shouting match with the fan and stormed off. Either the stress of an uncertain future is getting to Mirko, or maybe that’s a TOTALLY REASONABLE REACTION when an IDIOT insults you during an INTRA-SQUAD PRACTICE MATCH. I defer to you, dear reader.
- Despite Giuseppe Marotta’s statement last week that Vucinic would not be sold, Manchester United have reportedly offered the Bianconeri €15 million for the Montenegrin’s services. If they’re going to being so incredibly generous for a player who at the best of times is frustratingly inconsistent, would they mind throwing in Wayne Rooney, too?
- New Manchester City signing Stevan Jovetic has “revealed” that Juventus were interested in him. Actually, having followed Marotta’s half-assed, low-ball offers to Fiorentina for him, that’s news to me.
- Marco Verratti’s agent is claiming that Juve are interested in the 20-year-old and his outrageous €25 million price tag. Feels great to be consistently used as leverage again, no?
- How did Juventus out-earn Champions League winners Bayern Munich during last year’s competition? Broadcasting revenue. It makes sense: Would you actually prefer to watch Schweinsteiger, Robben and Ribery? “Yes,” said an executive from the FCGT (Flopping, Complaining and General Thuggery) Channel.
- EPL side Reading are in talks to become a “partner club” to Juve, which means they would help develop and nurture Bianconeri talent. I’m assuming Beppe Marotta handed officials the standard brochure covering such matters: “How to Treat Us Better than Genoa Has Recently.”
- Diego Maradona reacted to Napoli’s signing Gonzalo Higuain by criticizing fellow compatriot Carlos Tevez: “A real Argentine could never play in Turin.” He also thinks Napoli fans are “the real example of sport and healthy values,” so you can definitely trust his judgment here.
- Aurelio De Laurentiis, Napoli honcho and producer of that evergreen classic of Italian cinema The Fart Maniac, has apparently taken Juan Camilo Zuniga off the market. When asked if he was especially disinclined to sell Zuniga to Juve, De Laurentiis answered, “I’d rather die — or watch The Fart Maniac.”
- Marek Hamsik claims that this year’s campionato will be a “war with Juventus.” This latest piece of Juve-baiting follows teammate Lorenzo Insigne’s vow to never play for the Bianconeri at any price. Guys, I don’t mean to be an armchair psychologist here, but I assume you know what constantly professing hatred for our Vecchia Signora implies, right? And by the way, she’s flattered, but you’re not her type.
- Our Translation of the Week goes to Football Italia for their rendering of Bologna president Albano Guaraldi’s statement to Sky Sport on rumored Juve target Alessandro Diamanti: “He is the captain of Bologna, he doesn’t want to leave us and we have no desire to rid ourselves of him in the future.” Now that’s a ringing endorsement: “We’re not at the point where we can’t stand the sight of him, so he’ll stay with us.”
- Carlos Tevez on moving to a new city: “I haven’t seen much of Turin yet, but what I’ve seen suggested it is a passionate city.” Judges, can we accept “passionate”? Yes! We also would have accepted “foggy,” “industrial” or “non-Milanese.”
That’s all for now. We’ll see you next time with USA updates, transfer news and more. Ciao!
[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)