Seven years ago, Turin was an incredibly sad place. Smiles were in short supply, dreams were shattered, and it seemed all hope was lost. The impact of the 2006 Italian Football scandal, commonly referred to as Calciopoli, was felt far and wide. Juventus were relegated to Serie B, millions of dollars were lost, and most of the club’s players left for pastures new. Juventus had some of the best players in the world; Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Fabio Cannavaro, Lilian Thuram, Patrick Vieira, Emerson, and more. Unfortunately for Juventus, relegation meant that these players left the club. If we look at the names mentioned above, we see a team that easily could have dominated Europe for years. On a positive, many Turin legends, such as Nedved, Del-Piero and Buffon, decided to stick with the club during their lows.
The current team doesn’t have the star quality of the 2006 squad. However, with Antonio Conte at the helm, the current Juventus side has a sense of team spirit, grit, and tactical organization that have helped them lift the Scudetto the past two seasons. The free spirited spending of 2006 is gone and instead, smart bargain buying has been the way of the Old Lady. This Juventus team has wonderful players who have arrived for next to nothing. Examples include Andrea Pirlo who was discarded by AC-Milan because they thought he was past his best. Arturo Vidal is a wonderful box to box midfielder who cost €10.5 million. Juventus stole the talented Paul Pogba from right under the noses of Manchester United on a free transfer. There are many more examples of smart purchasing in Turin throughout the squad and I’m sure there will be more to come.
Now that Juventus has conquered Serie A two years running, their main focus is to bring the club back respect on the continent. Going far in the Champions League is priority number one this coming season. However, Juventus would not be able to achieve this without a quality strikeforce. Their current crop in, Mirko Vucinic, Alessandro Matri, Sebastien Giovionco and Fabio Quagliarella are all good players but none are the quality required to bring European glory to Turin. Something had to be done. Juventus have found the answer they were looking for in the typical dont break the bank fashion.
Llorente comes into the Juventus sqaud with a little bit of a cloud over his head. On January 3rd, 2013 it was confirmed that Juventus were entering into contract discussions with Fernando. Atleti were not at all enthused at the potential of losing their best player. The executives at Bilbao decided that Llorente was a traitor and would sit on the bench for his apparent treachery. Such a characterization is completely unfair and uncalled for. Llorente served his hometown club with dignity and grace and he needs to test himself at the highest level of European football.
Juventus have acquired a classic number 9. A tall, skillful, lethal striker with brilliant hold up play. The fact that Juventus got him for free is an outstanding piece of business. Many wondered whether he will be able to live up to the pressure of playing at the top European level. I have absolutely no doubt that Llorente will be a success at Juventus for years to come. His style is well suited to playing in any league and the man is pure class. Just ask the Manchester United players about Llorente’s class. He bullied and played his way around the United defenders and capped off his performance in Bilbao with a brilliant goal.
Juventus were absolutely toothless against the mean defense of Bayern Munich in this season champions league. If they had Llorente, the likes of Dante and Boateng would have gotten a proper rough housing at the hands of El Rey Leon (The Lion King).
How do you solve a problem like Carlos Tevez? In Manchester City’s case, sell him at a loss to Juventus. Perhaps it is the fact that he was on a huge weekly wage and City couldn’t afford to keep him on the books when it was clear that he did not want to be there. Juventus were able to convince Tevez to take a pay cut. So for the Old Lady this is a win-win on all levels. Tevez is supremely talented and has shown his mercurial nature at every club he has been to. He can either lead the line or play off of a main striker. He is an incredibly dynamic football player and capable of world class performances. This is exactly what Juventus fans have been crying out for. He inherits the shirt worn by legend Alessandro Del Piero and the little argentinian plays in a similar vein and could bring some much needed flair and unpredictability to a what is a very functional and disciplined team. As a member of the 2008 Manchester United champions league winning team Tevez comes to Juventus with bags of European experience at the highest level, something that Juventus have been missing. If Tevez can keep his bad boy image in check and focus only on playing football then, Juventus fans are in for a treat this season.
The combination of Tevez and Llorente should scare defenses all across Europe. Llorente’s link up play and skill on the ball should give Tevez space to run into and provide his own brand of dynamism to the Juventus attack. Llorente is more than capable as a fox in the box as well which should allow Tevez to showcase his underrated vision and creative side. This partnership is a mouth watering prospect.
On The Outside Looking In: Sebastian Giovinco, Fabio Quagliarella, Alessandro Matri and Mirko Vucinic.
Now that Juventus have finally been able to acquire two truly Champions League class strikers in Llorente and Tevez, one wonders what will happen to the men mentioned above. Quagliarella and Matri came to Juventus after years of promise, hoping to fulfil their potential in Turin. Unfortunately for these two forwards they are likely to be surplus to requirements and should probably get their agents working over time to find them new teams.
Giovinco began his career at Juventus but failed to assert himself in the first team. His potential was evident but he needed regular playing time in order to develop further. He went to Parma and showed his talent and the Old Lady came calling again for his services. His first year back hasn’t gone according to plan but Juve will be happy to give him another chance to prove himself.
Mirko Vucinic is the most talented of the bunch and will have suitors from all over Europe. His ability to score goals has been questioned but his skill on the ball and vision are exemplary. He will likely not be content sitting on the bench so I can see him leaving but Juventus will not let him go easily.
The 2013-2014 will be exciting for all of European football, but Serie A has gained two fantastic players who will undoubtedly light up the league. If all goes according to plan, Juventus are my dark horse pick to win the Champions League next season. With a solid midfield and uncompromising defense, Juventus only needed to add quality to their attack in order to compete with Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid and give Italy a potential force in European football.
I can’t wait to watch Juventus this season. The Old Lady has come a long way since Calciopoli and we should applaud the steady construction of what might be a major European force.