Straight from the dark heart of Italy
Juventus were sporting their new away kit at the weekend: all white with the Italian tricolour sweeping down the centre of the shirt.
Wearing the green, white and red will bring back memories for Bianconeri fans, memories of a time when the colours were almost a permanent fixture on the club shirt – in the shape of the championship shield. If the Old Lady is going to reach those heights again, she'll have to do it the hard way.
New coach Gigi Del Neri has had his new charges back in pre-season training for two weeks. And while the other title contenders ease into pre-season by racking up dozens of goals against amateur sides, Del Neri has put his side through their paces against quality opposition.
Sunday saw the team record a goalless draw against Hamburg and they will take on Lyon this Saturday – all in preparation to face either Bnei Yehuda of Israel of Ireland’s Shamrock Rovers in the third qualifying round of the Europa League.
This time last year, there was a belief that the team could mount a genuine title challenge but after a blistering start through September and October, everything had fallen apart by the turn of the year.
It is a much more prosaic Juventus preparing for the upcoming campaign – and no grand claims of dominating the rest of the league have been made this around, even without the Champions League to contend with.
In fact, it seems that very few reassurances can be given to any of the playing staff who have going out of their way to win over the new man in charge.Diego, in particular, has been in excellent form in training – but then that was the case last summer as well. However, the Brazilian is going to have to produce something out of the ordinary as Del Neri has already made it clear that he cannot envisage Diego playing alongside Alessandro Del Piero in his preferred 4-4-2 formation.
Having spent €25m on the 25-year-old last year, the club would apparently happily offer him up to persuade Wolfsburg to release Edin Dzeko. Rather than find a manner to incorporate Diego into the side, Juve should be doing all they can to land the Bosnian striker – who may not be a star name but looks to possess the qualities that the attack have been lacking.
Strength, power and mobility have been missing, and with Dzeko leading the front-line there would be little need to work the ball in and around the area, which is Diego’s trademark.
It's goals that the Bianconeri faithful have been calling out for – and neither Amauri or David Trezeguet seem capable of producing them. Neither player wants to leave the club but certainly the writing must be on the wall for Trez, who looked well off the pace at the weekend – and could prove an unsettling influence on the bench as he did last season.
A suitably chastened Felipe Melo will remain part of the grand scheme of things in what will be a hard-working and physical midfield, but the problem for Del Neri, or more to the point general director Beppe Marotta, is persuading Diego that he is not part of the new hard-edged set-up.
More from Serie Aaaaargh!
Diego suffers from the same disease that ails Ronaldinho, too much Churrasco!
the number 10 seems to be a dying breed in Italy these days. he's an incredibly gifted player and Alex doesn't have many years left so to sell Diego would be very short sighted in my opinion. i'm expecting a no thrills Juve team next year, they'll go back to basics.
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