Thursday, October 10, 2013

Agnelli - We don't have the economic strength to retain a player like Pogba

Juventus president Andrea Agnelli warns: Italy is no longer the final destination for the world's top players and the country's leading clubs will struggle to keep the ones they do have unless big improvements are made in Serie A.

Speaking to delegates at the Leaders in Football conference at Stamford Bridge, Andrea Agnelli, the fourth member of his family to run Italy's most successful domestic club, said Italy had stagnated as a football country in the last year and Serie A was now a shadow of the glittering jewel it once was.

"If you go back about 10 or 15 years, it was the dream of every international footballer to come to Serie A."

"It was the destination for top players. When I was a kid studying here in England you used to watch live Serie A games broadcast here. The English League was not what it is today.


"Now the German League is building on what it has achieved in the last 10 years, the Spanish League has its own unique environment and has two of the world's most successful worldwide global brands, Real Madrid and Barcelona.

"France has benefited from overseas investments."

Agnelli said that from a football point of view Serie A was no longer the final destination for players but a transitory destination.

"Where will we be in two or three years, will we be able to keep players like Paul Pogba, for example? 
If a huge offer arrived for Paul Pogba I don't think we have the economic strength to retain such a player."

"Look at AC Milan, they had to give away Zlatan Ibrahimovic. We need to have greater economic strength."

Italy has slipped from second to fourth in the UEFA coefficient ranking system since 2006, meaning it has only three clubs in the Champions League instead of four.

Last season they only had two teams in the competition proper because Udinese lost in the qualifying rounds, and although Juventus reached the quarter-finals and earned 65.6 million euros ($88.7 million US), Agnelli is still worried about the future.

"It was an anomaly that we earned that much as the Italian market pool is so big and was set up when we had four teams but last season was split between two teams (Juventus and AC Milan)," he said.

"But you must be in the Champions League because that is where you have the international exposure.

"However, we need reforms in Italy. We have to look at our stadiums, that is where the difference is made, on ticketing and on income streams. That is our No.1 reform, and that is where the broadcasters come in.

"If we have a good show in the stadium and show it off to the full, that is the way to increase the broadcasting income, and that is just the start."

Agnelli has overseen the transformation of Juventus's home ground from the unloved Stadio delle Alpi which was built for the 1990 World Cup but demolished to make way for the 41,000-capacity Juventus Stadium on the same site.

The year 1990 is a pivotal moment in Italy's story. 
Although they have since won the World Cup for a fourth time, Serie A and the game have rarely generated the levels of optimism that existed around the time when the Italians hosted the 1990 World Cup.

In 2007 Italy bid to host Euro 2012 but lost out to Ukraine and Poland, and Agnelli is convinced it will be some time before the country is again seen as a football powerhouse.

"We were not effective in UEFA and our bid was not good enough," he said. "It was a chance missed to regenerate our stadiums and our game. If Italy goes and bids for something, Italy should get it, but our federation needs to increase its standing. Italy has lost its leadership. England, Germany and Spain are ahead of us.

"Our League has lost its drive and we need to spend a lot more time thinking about how we can improve domestically and internationally."

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


“I don’t understand why this rule is only in Italy. And it makes no sense to close a stadium when they are already empty, fantastic…the rules need changing.” -Adriano Galliani

It's hard to get Milan, Inter and Juventus ultras to agree on much, but they are now banding together. Albeit in defense of their freedom to insult each other. Milan were ordered to play a match behind closed doors and fined €50,000 because of chants deemed "territorial discrimination" from their traveling supporters during their 3-2 loss to Juventus at Juventus Stadium last weekend. The Milan fans chanted "We are not Neapolitans," among other traditional put downs northern Italians have for the south (Juventus have a reputation for having fans from all over Italy, including the south). The rules against discrimination were intended to fight racism, but Milan and the ultras from Inter and Juve all feel that applying them to territorial rivalries within the country is going too far.

Now they're trying to rally ultras across the country to engage in territorial discrimination in an effort to get every stadium closed and prove a point. This is the statement released by the Juventus ultras of the Curva Sud Scirea: " The traditional group - old values ​​- Black and White Fighters - Curva Sud Scirea opposes the measures undertaken by the federal prosecutor's office about the "expressive vocals of territorial discrimination" on the fans and organization of AC Milan. “This is just another pointless and unconstitutional mechanism to discriminate against the ultras, condemning freedom of speech,” reads the Juve ultras statement. “During the next game in Florence on October 20 we invite all the fans to sing along with us those ‘famous’ chants of territorial discrimination. We invite supporters everywhere to unite in our protest by showing banners and singing these chants in every stadium on Friday 18, Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 October.”

Echoing that sentiment, the Inter ultras issued a statement of their own. From La Gazzetta dello Sport:

"We are ready and we hope that all the fans in every Curva take part in discriminatory chants in order to achieve a Sunday with total closure of the stadiums. We reserve the right to make decisions coordinated with other fans, ultras, supporters from the other team in our city, with our twinned teams, our historic rivals, and anyone who understands this outrageous attempt to impose an alien conformism upon us."

Galliani had asked for the laws regarding "territorial discrimination" to be revised after the decision was taken to play AC Milan's next match behind closed doors on account of chants from the Rossoneri fans during last weekend's
game against Juventus. His proposal was backed by all of the Serie A clubs.

FIGC president Giancarlo Abete responded by saying "I feel it is natural that due consideration should be given to the way in which these regulations are interpreted and applied, but these laws exist; not because the Italian football federation has decided them, but to solve problems which have been detected all over the world."

Can regulations be altered after being agreed?  "They were approved by the Federation board and they are the only body who have the power to take decisions on this, but the agreement was made jointly by all of the components."

"The regulations observed in Italy are in line with a UEFA proposal, which is being debated both at the UEFA and the FIFA congresses," stated Abete. He said he has also spoken with Serie A president, Maurizio Beretta. "We are in the midst of a worldwide situation where situations involving discrimination must be adequately dealt with." Mr Galliani says that 'territorial discrimination' is not punished in Europe. "UEFA guidelines tend to safeguard the dignity of the human being and that can be seen from such decisions as those taken regarding Lazio v Legia Warsaw (one home match to be played behind closed doors following chants directed at the Polish fans) which were based on chants that were not prejudiced as such. What I would like to point out is that territorial discrimination has existed in our legal code for a long time. The problem is that it's the interpretation of the rules and severity of the punishment that has changed." 

How this all plays out remains to be seen but week 8 is sure to produce some sort of "fireworks" in the curves... 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Allegri: Mexès did not punch Chiellini

“It wasn’t a punch, it was a tussle in the box and he hit him on the back,”  A.C. Milan's manager Massimiliano Allegri stated. 

The Italian specialist spoke about his team’s Serie A match against Juventus, during which French international and Milan defender Philippe Mexès had punched Italian international and Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini on the back of the head during a corner.

“If you want to call it a punch, then call it that, but there are a thousand different fouls like that in the box. He didn’t even catch his face. It was absolutely not a punch.”

Mexes has received a 4 game suspension for the foul.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Juventus vs Galatasaray: Worth a second look

Facing the turkish side in Turin, Juventus managed a draw on matchday 2 of the Champions League. Social media sites lit up with a tidal wave of "football professors" all putting forth their opinions on the matter. 

Conte needs a brain transplant, Isla should be hung, Llorente should have started, 3-5-2 is predictable, Juve doesn't have any good wingers, Bonucci is a joke... and these are posts on Juve chat rooms by "Juventini". I was left shaking my head. The game was a heartbreaker yes, but this over the top fit of rage was something else. I didn't bother posting anything, I needed to catch some rest then revisit the match in the morning.

The first thing I did was mute the sound. I didn't need 2 sports analysts to influence what I saw. Minute by minute, second by second, play by play, I watched... and took notes. The numbers speak for themselves.


Goal 1 (Galatasaray)-36min (Asamoah error, the Galatasaray defence clear the area. Bonucci recovers and under pressure decides on a very weak back pass. Drogba capitalizes and runs after the ball. Buffon bursts out of the net and cuts down the angle but instead of fully committing to block the Galatasaray striker, he attempted a half-hearted sliding tackle that was evaded by Drobga who then rolled the ball into the empty net.

Goal 2 (Juventus) -78min (Vidal to Pirlo, Pirlo to Pogba, Pogba to Quagliarella in the box. As he receives the pass he turns away from the net towards Amrabat on his left who needlessly stuck his leg. Penalty given. Vidal scores.)

Goal 3 (Juventus) -87min (Tevez attempts to shot towards the net from about 26 yards, ball is blocked by Melo, Pirlo recovers and drops his pass directly in front of Quagliarella who heads the ball into the net.

Goal 4 (Galatasaray) -88min (Chedjou brings the ball forward from Galatasaray's half. A long ball is launched towards the top of the Juventus area by Balta and headed down by Drogba to Umut Bulut who was completely unmarked on the left side because Barzagli is out of position following Asamoah's man, Selçuk İnan.) 

At the risk of being chastised I have to point out a few things I noticed. Let's start with ISLAUnfortunately for him, he had a short run of plays in which he seemingly gave the ball away over and over. A lot less than you might remember seeing actually. Coming in to replace an injured Lichsteiner, Isla was in direct contact with the ball 40 times. He only made 11 errors giving him an overall +/- of +18 or (+73%) over 49 minutes. Now that's not quite as high as Lichtsteiner's 86% but it is higher than Vidal, Pogba, Tevez and Llorente at only 54%. I'm not saying he's a superstar, believe me when I tell you I'm counting the hours to Pepe's return, I'm just reviewing the actual stats from the match.  Additionally, when Llorente came in for Bonucci the 3-5-2 changed to 2-5-3 not  4-3-3. Take a look how they set up for the kick offs. In both 3-5-2 or 2-5-3 the wingers are utilized as defence and attackers. Some have said the second Galatasaray goal was Isla's fault. Upon reviewing the play which led to the goal I noticed something. 

As Galatasaray take the ball up from their end Isla begins moving back towards the Juve end but his senior teammate Vidal calls for him to hold his position in the midfield. (You can see Vidal motion to cover this area with his hands and Isla turns back towards the right midfield).  

videoThe long ball is played in and Drogba wins the battle with Chiellini, heading it towards the box. Asamoah is there but far enough away that Barzagli leaves Bulot open to cover Inan. *Defensively you always mark the man nearest the goal BUT that should have been Asamoah's man. There were 3 men back BarzagliChiellini and Asamoah plus Pogba and Quagliarella were just outside of the box. 

Barzagli and Chiellini hold top honors for positive% and total plays respectively. Barzagli with an incredible +93% over 97 minutes and Giorgio being directly involved in 101 total plays. Although he played 30 minutes less than his defensive partners Bonucci did manage a positive 82%. The 3 man Juve defence didn't give up too many chances. Actually they only allowed a total of 5 attempts on goal, with the other 2 occurring after Bonucci was subbed out.

The draw is hard to swallow but one thing that ALL Juventini have in common is having witnessed JUVE fight back when it really matters. After 2 matches played, Juventus sits in second place, 1 point ahead of both Galatasaray and FC København. Alot can happen in 4 games... 

FC København

FC København

Monday, September 30, 2013

Juventus, Prandelli and Verratti... Goodbye Conte and Pirlo?

OUT Andrea Pirlo and Antonio Conte
IN Marco Verratti and Cesare Prandelli:

This is, in short, the scenario presented by "" for Juventus for next season.

Conte and Pirlo would leave Turin at the end of the championship, with the director, out of contract in 2014, again in the crosshairs of Real Madrid and Arsenal.

The technician, who does not have idyllic relations with Marotta, is tempted by the Premier League.
In their place should arrive midfielder Marco Verratti of PSG, who would return to Italy to wear the jersey of the team for which he cheers and Cesare Prandelli ready to return to coaching at the club level after the parenthesis with the Italian national team.

The next few months will certainly be important to understand if the future of Juventus, who still has to concentrate fully on the season, as well as the Champions League, will take this type of fold.

At this point it is a rumor based in speculation, of course things change quickly in the world of Italian football.