This post was guest-blogged by Vittorio Pazzini. Follow him on Twitter (@vittoriopazzini)
Welcome to another edition of STTBS, Torino Derby Style.
On Saturday, Juventus Stadium will host her first-ever Juventus-Torino match. Torino, as you well know, has been toiling in Serie B obscurity and would like nothing more to celebrate their Serie A promotion than to show up their superior intra-city rivals.
The downside for Torino is that this is a very powerful, historically dominant Juve, and although stranger things have happened in this historic rivalry, Antonio Conte’s men will not make it easy, especially coming off a loss to Milan.
Whatever happens, this match is never boring.
Here’s what’s going on at Vinovo ahead of the latest installment of this famous grudge match.
The latest from Vinovo: two potentially disruptive injuries in the Bianconeri camp.
Martin Caceres missed out on Tuesday’s double session with a pain in his ankle. Here’s the official prognosis:
The defender was given an MRI scan which displayed a notable joint effusion and a minimal ankle ligament strain. His recovery time will be assessed over the coming days.
Perhaps more alarming, our warrior Captain Uncino is also in doubt for this weekend:
Arturo Vidal pulled up in this afternoon’s workout due to an overload in his adductor muscles. The Chilean midfielder’s condition will be progressively monitored over the next few days.
This looks like a job for Paul Pogba.
Meanwhile, Simone Pepe and Giorgio Chiellini continued to train on their own, but are expected to join their teammates soon. It looks as if Chiellini has a better chance at featuring on Saturday.
Check out tomorrow’s match preview for updates.
No Suspensions for Torino Match
With the exception of the aforementioned injured players, Antonio Conte should have all of the usual suspects at his disposal.
Should Chiellini be cleared to play, he will have to be careful in more ways than one, as he is a yellow card away from suspension. Also on the brink are Sebastian Giovinco, Claudio Marchisio and Leonardo Bonucci.
It looks like we can expect one or two to miss the next match. The smart money’s on Bonucci.
Intensive Training for Derby Clash
The Bianconeri have been active all week long, as they prepare to host Torino on Saturday.
Yesterday, inclement weather forced most of the squad indoors. Only the goalkeepers were forced out in the gale, working with goalkeeping coach Claudio Filippi while the others all laughed at them.
Following Tuesday’s rigorous fitness tests (see last post), the day’s second session was open to fans, who rapturously watched Juve work on tactics and even play… handball?
The Bianconeri began proceedings with a small game of handball before contesting an eleven-a-side game on a reduced pitch, much to the delight of the watching public. Antonio Conte then divided his men into two groups. The first set of players worked on athletic drills, while the remainder focused on tactical preparations. Tactics truly came to the fore in the final part of the session, with the entire squad running through specific movements desired for Saturday night’s visit of Torino.
Can anyone out there explain what the handball exercise is for? At this point, do even internationally renowned footballers periodically need the most basic of lessons in What Not to Do? Or do they just need to get the handballs out of their systems? If Rizzoli referees, it doesn’t matter anyway…
The 400-plus tifosi were “largely comprised of Premium Members, club and sponsors’ guests and Juventus Club Doc fan organizations hailing from across Italy.” And despite heavy rains, the enthusiasm never faltered:
Every touch was greeted by rapturous applause, as the Bianconeri continued their preparations for Saturday’s crunch derby fixture in front of an adoring public. Fans’ favorite Antonio Conte showed his gratitude in person by moving over to sign several autographs once the session had drawn to a close.
Sitting through the onset of a Piedmont winter vs. watching Juve and meeting Conte? Not a bad trade-off at all.
Derby della Mole: Previous Encounters
As you might imagine, Juventus historically have the upper hand in their meetings with Torino, winning 33 times, drawing 18 and losing 16.
According to Juventus.com, Torino’s last win was in 1995, a 2-1 victory over Marcello Lippi’s squad at the old Delle Alpi. Since then, Juve have dominated, winning eight and drawing four, never losing.
Unfortunately, history suggests that we would be foolish to expect a high-scoring affair:
With local pride at stake, derby clashes between Juventus and Torino have a tendency to produce low scoring affairs: 1-0 and 2-1 are the most frequent results, occurring on eight separate occasions.
Another warning for the Bianconeri: Torino have only lost once on the road this season, although that loss was a very recent 2-0 defeat to Roma on November 19.
Juventus has fined Fabio Quagliarella an undisclosed amount for his mysterious, coat-cloaked comment to Angelo Alessio after he was substituted in the 1-0 loss to Milan.
Although the situation is completely resolved, the club felt it still needed to make a token example of poor, frustrated Fabio to discourage future outbursts. Said Marotta:
The club have strict rules in terms of behavior, and cannot allow misconduct.
(For more of Marotta’s thoughts, see below.)
Speaking of fines, both sides from Sunday’s match have been officially slapped. Serie A’s sporting judge, Gianpaolo Tosel, hit Milan with a €4,000 fine, due to their fans displaying two banners mocking Juve director Gianluca Pessotto. Tosel also handed Juve a €10,000 fine because fans chanted “racially discriminatory songs towards an opposing player.” Just out of pure curiosity, how do you calculate these fines? Is there a monetary value ascribed to a racist joke, or making fun of a specific individual’s struggles with depression?
But more importantly: What is wrong with these animals on both sides? Why no class? Don’t they realize there are so many valid, deserving things to make fun of in calcio, so many ways to be effectively insensitive without being racist or needlessly cruel?
Some players’ Twitter accounts alone can give one years of ammunition, and it’s fair game! And a genuinely creative asshole can get some very good mileage from some of the haircuts you see every weekend.
Just pointing that out.
Giuseppe Explains It All
Giuseppe Marotta went on Sky TG24 yesterday, holding forth on an impressive variety of topics, many of them causing no little controversy in Juve World. Juventus.com has the full interview, but here are some choice highlights.
On the race for the Scudetto:
Last year we won the championship with our never-say-die attitude. From there we’ve continued our positive run and we’re still top of the league as it stands. We know that we’ve got experienced competition and we can’t help but acknowledge the value of our opposition. The title race is open and it’s our duty to believe we can do it. We’ve got respect for everyone, but Juve must look to win, it’s in our DNA.
On Juve’s rapport with other clubs (notice who he doesn’t mention):
There’s always been a good rapport between Juventus and Milan. There’s the right competitiveness on the pitch and everyone wants to win. But we also have common off-field objectives designed to reach a winning.
The current state of Serie A:
In the last few championship games, the quality has been greater, but if we compare it to previous seasons we must note that the overall level has decreased. Our European ranking tells you all you need to know, with the number of teams in the Champions League decreasing from four to three. We’ve also seen some of the best players go abroad. Everything is linked in with the economic situation, both generally and in the world of football.
Tension within the squad:
Nothing happened between Marchisio and Bonucci. Quagliarella was fined but only after a calm discussion with him. He was angry at being substituted in a game where the team were losing and he wanted to help his team-mates to get an equalizer. It was an anger that immediately passed.
On supporting Conte:
We’re all behind Conte. There is bitterness at what Gegic had to say. Conte has suffered a great deal from being involved in an event which had nothing to do with his way of being a professional. He found himself in an absurd situation and paid the price for the fault of others. Our manager was made to pay following a process in which the defence was unable to operate and only gave weight to the words of a repentant.
And finally, the transfer window elephant in the room:
If we consider last year’s championship and the first part of the current campaign, Juventus have the most prolific attack. We’ve scored 94 goals and we’ve never had difficulties in putting the ball in the back of the net. We’re the team with the highest number of different goalscorers and our tactical ethos is geared towards players breaking forward, so it’s not just the strikers who get on the scoresheet. Let’s also remember that last year we had the strongest defence and the best goal difference. We know it’s our duty to improve but there’s no demand to plug gaps in January.
You know what that means, friends: it’s Bendtner or bust this season. And if the rumors are true that were sending him back to Arsenal or somewhere else, it sounds like a bust.
That could be a good thing. As long as the strikers we have stay healthy, it might be fair to give them enough minutes for another six months or so.
Natale in November
Corporate Christmases, for those who celebrate them, are usually much-needed breaks from the office grind, a chance to drink too much and get too merry, maybe share way too much about yourself and and maybe make an awkward pass at a co-worker. And it’s usually in December.
But when you’re a European soccer giant competing in three competitions both domestically and on the Continent, time is tight, and all that merry (and mandatory) holiday cheer has to wait for one’s family on Actual Christmas.
In short, Juve needed to get the annual office party out of the way, so the real December celebrations can take place on the pitch. Besides, do you really want an Asamoah full of eggnog chugging (and chucking) down the left flank, or a Pirlo full of panettone pulling the strings in the midfield?
So in the spirit of time-constrained generosity, Juventus held their annual Christmas celebration in November this year. The gathering, at the Royal Park I Roveri, featured boss Andrea Agnelli, his mother Allegra and John Elkann.
Juventiknows’ Official Bureau of Nonsense reports that all of the Primavera players actually sat at a kids’ table, away from the grownups.
Another week, another sponsor. Juventus have made a deal with Samsung for various online and stadium advertising rights.
Classic sponsorship talk or secret sci-fi code for world domination? You decide:
Juventus Football Club is geared towards the future and always aims to achieve new successes, both on and off the field. Such a strategy could only drive the club to link its name to one of the most innovative companies in the field of technology and global brand leader in the consumer electronics market. Juventus is therefore delighted to announce a new sponsorship deal with Samsung, who will become the club’s technological partner.
Here’s the specific deal:
Samsung’s brand visibility will be guaranteed by the presence of the company logo on the club’s major communication outlets, such as the official Juventus website. The logo will also be shown on the pitchside LED displays at Juventus Stadium and Juventus Training Center.
So no Samsung jerseys, I’m afraid. I’m still holding out hope for a product I actually use, like Lavazza.
Coffee should sponsor everything. It basically sponsors me.
Primavera Coppa Italia Victory
Marco Baroni’s Primavera side continues to roll. This time around, the ragazzi took a break from their league campaign with a 2-1 Coppa Italia win away to Siena.
From the recap on Juventus.com, it seemed like a lively affair: Juve went ahead at 37 minutes on Vykintas Slivka’s header off a cross from Jacob Barrett Laursen (he sounds like a purveyor of fine wooden furniture), and doubled the lead from the spot, after Andrea Schiavone converted a penalty won by Giuseppe Ruggiero.
But another protagonist made an impression on this match, for good and ill. Here are the recorded exploits of swashbuckling Icelandic defender Hordur Magnusson:
Magnusson had the opportunity to extend the Bianconeri’s advantage just moments after the break, but was unfortunate to see his firmly struck free-kick cannon back off the post. The hosts pulled a goal back through Redi on the hour mark, but the Bianconeri held on in spite of Magnusson’s late dismissal to clinch an important result.
Looks like this kid really knows how to mix it up, huh?
The Primavera’s second fixture with Siena is on Saturday, December 8.
Melo Impresses and Embarrasses Simultaneously
Finally, a bit of amusement from this past week, all the more amusing since the player in question is no longer around to frustrate us.
Felipe Melo came to the rescue for Galatasaray against Elazigspor this past weekend, after a wild series of events in which keeper Fernando Muslera was seemingly knocked unconscious in a last-minute intervention, then red-carded while on the ground.
It was the 89th minute, and Galatasary was protecting a 1-0 lead.
Melo took over as keeper, made an impressive two-handed save, and then proceeded to crawl around on all fours, his “pitbull” celebration, which apparently is a real thing.
The events of the preceding sentence provide a perfect metaphor for Felipe Melo’s general playing style, and even in this moment of relative triumph, we should all be glad he’s not playing for Juventus.
There’s no substitute for class, and if Melo ever returns to Italy, crawling around on all fours is a celebration best left for one of those San Siro clubs.
That’s all for today’s STTBS. Stay tuned for a derby match preview and Torino TeamEats.
[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)