Straight from the dark heart of Italy
Having suffered two abject years, Juventus have fast become one of the major talking points of the early part of this Serie A season - and most of the talk centres around everything new.
The new signings - including Eljero Elia, Arturo Vidal and Mirko Vucinic - have been touted to provide the creative spark to light up the new Juventus Stadium, with it's supposed 'English' feel which when experienced first hand actually seems more German than anything else.
The new coach Antonio Conte, meanwhile, appears to be the ideal man to change the philosophy of the side and restore much of what was missing in those bleak times. He arrival is widely viewed as the dawn of a return to old values; the grit, determination and 'Spirito Juve' of the teams Conte himself was a part under Marcello Lippi.
Not everything is new, of course, and helping instill these virtues in the newest incarnation of the Bianconeri is the talismanic Alessandro Del Piero. The captain and holder of a plethora of club records is ably assisted by World Cup winning goalkeeper Gigi Buffon, a Juve player for over ten years and still regarded by many as the best in the world in his position.
Somewhere between these two stools of old and new falls Claudio Marchisio. The 25 year old seems to fit neither category; too young to be one of the custodian old guard, but at the club too long to be considered part of the new generation.
Closer inspection of both his career to date and his playing attributes reveals he is actually both, and his two-goal performance in the recent win over AC Milan merely reinforces the feeling of those paying attention that the midfielder is in fact a key protagonist in Antonio Conte's revival of Turin's grand Old Lady.
Rewind five year to late summer 2006 and Juventus were relegated to Serie B following the Calciopoli trials, losing a number of first team regulars. Unsure of when they would see their beloved Bianconeri back among the elite of European football, the clubs fans consoled themselves with the fact their team would now be filled with promising young Italian players, turned out year after year by one of the country's most successful youth systems.
Under the previous regime these players were all too often destined to spend their years being loaned around the league, or be used as leverage in deals for players who could help win trophies in now rather than later. This was the Juventus of Luciano Moggi, who only aimed to win in the here and now - to them the future may as well have been on another planet.
Even with that management team gone, Marchisio had to fight for his place with a number of more famous, not to mention expensive, imports as Juve sought to return to glory. He rose to the challenge, becoming a first team regular despite the presence of Cristiano Zanetti and later Tiago, Momo Sissoko and Christian Poulsen. He was even being named Serie A Player of the Month for December 2008 after a string of impressive displays including a winning goal against Inter in the Derby d'Italia.
However, Marchisio is not without his critics. He is often accused of inconsistent and indifferent performances, and has been described as 'invisible' on a number of occasions. Yet to people who see past the match highlights and score-sheet, the midfielder has actually become a key player in many different ways.
He can of course win matches - that much was clear long before the win over i Rossoneri - but he can also be deployed in various roles, his intelligence and positional awareness nullifying the opposition's better players in a manner that is all but impossible to measure using statistics, or gauge by watching television.
Last season's encounter against Inter at the San Siro was one such occasion. Lambasted by many for another 'no-show', this criticism was massively unjust as a deeper look in the intricacies of the game highlight. Marchisio was pressed into action on the left flank as Gigi Delneri looked to shackle Maicon, who went into the match in brilliant form
Far from it being Marchisio who 'went missing', it was in fact the usually impressive Brazilian who was rarely spotted, struggling to join up with Wesley Sneijder and Samuel Eto'o as he did the year before when he single-handedly won the match.
Delneri, of course, must take credit for the tactical switch, but the discipline shown by Marchisio must also be praised. His presence on the touchline forced Maicon to stay honest, to play as an orthodox defender and prevent Juventus from exploiting the space behind him.
The Brazilian was restricted to just one tame effort on goal and only a single cross which came after a short corner. Normally the source of much of their attacking prowess, the right flank accounted for a mere 14% of Inter's play.
This constant shuffling around to nullify threats in the opposition line rarely appears to subdue the Juve man's own attacking threat, as his two goal performance against Milan showed. The midfielder completed 95% of his passes (up from 86% so far this term) and never neglected his defensive duties, contributing to a superb performance both in and out of possession by Juventus.
His is a key part of Conte's relentless pressing approach, winning the ball back an average eight times per game between tackles and interceptions.
There have been a number of impressive performers among the Juve squad under the new coach, but the man Conte referred to during the summer as "like me, only better" has done his 'Capitan Futuro' image no harm.
Latest Italian Football News
Balotelli to walk off next time racism repeated
Sampdoria put dampener on Juventus season finale
Serie A top scorers
Serie A results and standings
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010