Something Great

Arsene Wenger cobbled together starting lineups with spit and duct tape and Denilson and somehow the team dragged its ass over the finish line in third or fourth.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Juventus and the Identity Crisis Facing the Serie A

To say that the Serie A is still not feeling the effects of Calciopolli is like saying that steroids didn't help Mark McGwire hit home runs. But this is no time to point out that Inter's president also owned the Telecom company that wire-tapped the complicity between Juventus and referees. OK, that was a cheap shot, and in no way does TLOCA condone match-fixing, but let's focus on the roster changes at Juventus since May 2006, when the Serie A exploded.

Check out their roster before the scandal. Here are the top players based on Games Started in 2005/2006 -
Fabio Cannavaro
Gianluca Zambrotta
Patrick Viera
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Pavel Nedved
David Trezeguet
Mauro Camoranesi
Lilian Thuram
Gigi Buffon
Adrian Mutu
Alessandro Del Piero

Wow. That is scary good. Six of their starters are Top-100 players ever. Hindsight is typically flawless but its safe to assume based on how these players performed in the World Cup the next year that this squad is stacked.

Meanwhile, the scandal hits, and somewhere in Durham, NC, Duke lacrosse players throw a party they wish they hadn't. This is now after the Serie B (they had orginially been relegated to Serie C(!) but appealed and won). By Games Started in 2007-

Trezegol, Del Fire, Gigi The Greatest Ever Buffon, Pavel Blonde Locks Of Love Nedved and Camoranesi


New as regular starters:
Iaquinta (9 games started but he did have 8 goals that year)

Ummm yeah - that's quite a downgrade. Especially Molinaro, my nemesis. And clearly Mutu's departure from Juventus upset him so much he turned to cocaine as a manner of coping.

Games Started, in 2008/2009:
Nedved (37 years old at the time)
Alessandro Del Fiero (35 at the time but still good)
Trezeguet (5 games started he was hurt and so was I) and of course

If you don't follow Juventus regularly you surely don't recognize most of those names. This is an odd occurrence for Juventus. How odd? This club has 27 Scudettos, 2 Champions League titles, and dressed the likes of Michel Platini, Roberto Baggio, and Zissou Zidane to name a few.

Let's paint this a different way. Imagine if Everton had exposed Manchester United for an atrocious and condemning match fixing scandal that saw the Red Devils relegated. A young Cristiano Ronaldo leaves as a result, and so does Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Vidic, Carrick and Fletcher. And then, just to be funny (or something), Rio Ferdinand signs 4 years later and is mostly washed-up. Hey, kind of like right now for Rio (ZING!). It's safe to say this squad is going to suffer.

Now add a global recession, a domestic recession for Italian owners, and unfavorable taxes for the ultra-rich relative to Spain and less so England. All that coupled with a Serie A without its Manchester United leaves you a league at sixes and sevens. And more importantly, a league about to lose its 4th Champions League spot. So it's all fun and games when Clint Dempsey puts a cross into the top corner by accident to send home a sorry Juventus from the equally sorry Europa league competition until someone gets hurt. And the Serie A is hurting.

1 comment:

Jim said...

Haha I will never admit that Dempsey's goal was intended as a cross, no matter how much evidence I see. The same way I still believe Ruth called his shot. You just can't persuade me it didn't happen the way he intended it.

At any rate, it's so true. I remember that 05/06 Juve team being totally stacked and being shocked that Arsenal beat them in the CL that year. (More and more, that run looks legendary when I think about it - their road to the final was Real Madrid during the Galacticos era, Juve pre-scandal, Villareal with Riquelme at his peak pulling the strings, and finally, almost pulling it off with ten men against Barca.) But I digress. What I meant to say is that I miss having the Serie A as a force to be reckoned with and that I hope they can retain that fourth spot. Juve, Milan, Inter, and even Roma have a mystique and history about them that holds weight. When I see those names and jerseys, it means something to me. It means something to play them and to beat them.

Also, two things: (1) It would be one of the greatest soccer-related moments of my life if we could find a clip of that Coppa Italia game between Juve and Inter(?) we watched in DC where the legendary "DEL PIERO MUST SCORE... SIXES AND SEVENS!!!" quote was first heard and subsequently added to the list of things that, when recalled, never fails to make me laugh. However, I think it will probably remain the holy grail and maybe it's better that way. And (2) I saw that Molinaro got his sorry self shipped off to Stuttgart. I'm guessing that made you happy. But what will you do if they bring him back?