Serie A News… Juventus face disaster
Juventus slipped to a 2-1 defeat at Palermo on Wednesday, hardly a surprise result as the Rosanero have beaten Juve on five of the last six occasions. The giant of world football that Juventus once were are now certainly on the precipice of disaster. Having signed Alessandro Matri from Cagliari, initially on loan for €2.5m with the future fee payable of €18m, Juventus have taken a significant gamble on talent in the hope that it can resurrect a season in the midst of a stall. After defeat to Palermo, they now sit eighth in the table, five points away from the Champions League and with the task of dislodging Inter, Roma, Lazio or the ever improving Udinese to get there. Their shot at the League is all but over.
Why is this significant? Well, think of Juventus and the thoughts of one the best sides to play in the modern era springs to mind. With players that would not have looked out of place in a world XI a few years ago, and a rich and gloried history in Europe and in Italy, Juventus were very much a ‘giant’ of the game. However, this powerhouse could be in terminal decline. The side is looking older, more frail, even vulnerable; there are reasons for this.
Losing Fabio Quagliarella to injury for the rest of the season has seen a worrying lack of goals formulate, while legendary Gigi Buffon is only just back from injury and that isn’t helping a defence lacking steel. Lastly, Alessandro Del Piero is now too old to play at a consistently high level for 90 minutes.
Del Neri still managed to spend €40m on summer additions, largely Milos Krasic and Quagliarella, but Juve need a revamp from top to bottom; not, as they opted for this summer, superstars. Matri is decent enough as cover for Quagliarella, he deserves an opportunity to play at a higher level, but his signing alone exhibits, publicly, Juve’s struggling state. They certainly needed a striker in January, but couldn’t get anywhere near to affording top target Giampaolo Pazzini, a player who certainly has superstar potential, but it is questionable whether either Pazzini or Matri are the solutions to their problem. Juve can’t really afford either of them.
If the Matri gamble fails, it could mean financial disaster for the bianconeri. They are banking on him getting the goals to fire them up the table and reach that Champions League promised land for the money alone. Director-General Beppe Marotta has certainly faced difficulty in acquiring anyone this window, but if anything, the Matri deal shows that all players in demand at smaller clubs like Cagliari, or Charlie Adam at Blackpool as a comparison, are now hugely overpriced. Combine this with the knowledge that Juve are building a new stadium, but the knowledge that Italian crowd numbers are generally poor, and with it no guarantee of extra revenue; there is a hole that could be too big to cover. If Matri works Juventus may have snapped a bargain, but anything less than the Champions League this season and it is gamble that could yet have unimaginable consequences.
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