Straight from the dark heart of Italy
There was once a thing you could always rely on with Juventus, and that was a mean old defence. Never one to give the opposition as much as a sniff at goal in the past, the Old Lady is now looking decidedly shaking at the back.Those defensive frailties were exposed in Belarus by BATE Borisov over what Claudio Ranieri described as a “nightmare 30 minutes or so.”
Headless chickens would have made a better show of defending than this back-four where first-choice Nicola Legrottaglie, albeit carrying a knock, and Giorgio Chiellini left such a hole through the centre of defence that it just begged to be crammed full with the marauding men of Minsk.
Iaquinta at the double to let Juve off the hook
It was 2-0 before you could even say Sergei Kryvets and Igor Stasevich and so fraught came the situation that Mauro Camoranesi had to make at least three goal-saving challenges inside his own area.The introduction of Dario Knezevic, in place of Legrottaglie, did little to allay fears that Juve would be any more secure than before. No wonder Tuttosport screamed: “Juve that’s enough.” Certainly, there has to be major concerns in the heart of the defence where Legrottaglie lacks pace and a real ruthlessness to attack a high ball while Chiellini is as hard as a marine, but he does have a tendency to march off on one-man missions to other areas of the pitch.At least Olof Mellberg does what is printed on the tin but he’s certainly not a brand marked “world-class.” However, the real problem lies at full-back where Jonathan Zebina remains almost chronically injured while Zdenek Grygera and Cristian Molinaro fall well short of the club’s rich traditions in that position.Italy Under-21 international, Paolo De Ceglie is still learning his trade, of course, but lacks the personality to hold down a regular berth and no doubt will be loaned out again come January.Thank goodness then for some fluent attacking play and Sebastian Giovinco finally given a start.The “Atomic Ant” ran the home defence ragged and set up both goals for Vincenzo Iaquinta to complete the comeback.All this talk of having to ease the little fella into the side – he’ll be 22 in January and a veteran if he moved to Arsenal – just does not hold water.If you are good enough then where does age or experience come into it?
Super-sub Giovinco comes to Ranieri's rescue
A case in point was last weekend when once again Juve laboured to break down a hard-working side – Sampdoria – and with 15 minutes remaining the game was calling out for Giovinco’s jack-in-the-box tricks.Needless to say, Ranieri turned to the more direct approach of Iaquinta who was left to battle for long balls forward against the robust Samp defence and the match petered out to a goalless draw.Jose Mourinho’s bete noire has never been one to throw caution to the wind but last night proved that a little recklessness can pay off.
Although maybe not so much at the back.
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