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A blessing in disguise…An opportunity to prove our credentials (DEC 2015)

I awoke in a sloppy haze, the flashes of sunlight creeping through my haggard curtains blindingly bright to the slither of reluctant acceptance that the dream realm was once more closed off and the Day must be faced. As is often the case I was riddled with sensations of unfinished business in the fast fading remnants of the magical realm of slumber where chimeras dwell and the soul soars naked, wild and free. The carousel of wakefulness began to turn and churn. Reaching for my phone my first port of call was RT.com alongside Informationclearinghouse.info and globalresearch.ca, the thinking man’s routine of extending one’s view well beyond the present confines of geography and the main stream media bullshit, to check for the latest moves of the brutal death machine of the Western Empire…and then to the Guardian football section and of course Juvefc.com, where I was first found to smile at the live scoreline of our old Mister Tinkerman taking on the presently less than mighty Mourinho. It seemed fanciful, the continuation of a fairytale, for plucky Leicester held a handsome lead over a behemoth of the game who have steamrollered so many in their path in recent history only to find themselves, suddenly undone…but by what??? What could be the reasons behind the continued collapse of Abramovich’s billionaire toy club?? Shaking my head in welcome bemusement, I yawned as I noted that we had drawn Bayern Munich in the Champions League…

Taking in the comments section as I focused intermittently on keeping the brutes in suits at bay in the office, I was left lacking eagerness to add my voice to the loudest chorus of discontent, woe and a bothersome tidal wave of doom-mongering. For what so many seem to feel is the end of our European campaign, I see as a wonderful opportunity.

Yes! Yes! Bayern and Barcelona are well ahead of the rest of the world, in terms of momentum of success and immense depth of talent. Yet I would be feeling equally radiant had we drawn the Spaniards. Less confident – because their attacking triumvirate is the most devastating in Europe – but still…radiant and even excited.

Those aiming to become champions are eager to test themselves against the very best, to lock horns with the established powers and stake their own claim for greatness. Now we have that chance. And whilst many see the two legged tie as a death knell for our ambitions in the elite competition until next season, I naturally assume we have a better chance over two legs in February, than if we face them deeper into the tournament.

Juventus Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved celebrates after scoring his second goal during their Serie A football match Juventus  vs Lecce at Olympic Stadium  in Turin on  May 3, 2009. AFP PHOTO / GIUSEPPE CACACE (Photo credit should read GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images)

Most top teams engineer their fitness programs to peak towards the end of the season, when they assume they will be fighting for the top honours. In Bayern’s case, they can be expecting to have the league sewn up well before the final. Yet in mid-February, they could possibly still be expending a lot of energy in the Bundesliga. It is preferable to come up against Bayern in mid February when they may still have something to play for domestically.

It was not so long ago that we were competing in the final, winning the Coppa Italia and powering our way to a magnificent fourth scudetto on the trot. We achieved this, arguably with the efforts of the players who remain at the club, more so than those who departed. Tevez and Pirlo were not spectacular in our run to the final and Vidal’s form was lethargic throughout his final innings at the club. It was the youthful exuberance and belief of Morata, the astonishingly quiet and powerful diligence of Marchiso and the winning mentality of Evra which gave us the greatest push. Alongside, of course, sterling consistency from Lichsteiner, Pogba and the rock solid defence in top form.

These players remain. And of those who have come into the fold we are starting see what wonderful new blood Beppe and his hatchet man Paratici signed with our hard earned gold. It has been an atrocious start to the defence of the scudetto. Mitigating factors have been suggested and discussed, yet of late, we have begun to taste once again the sweet ambrosia of success. Six wins on the bounce in Serie A is a tough task for any side. An unfortunate loss to Seville in which we very much deserved to win. Resounding crunching of Fiorentina. Results and form fuelled by the return to sharpness of Mandzukic and Marchisio, coupled with the blossoming excellence of Dybala and Sandro.

TURIN, ITALY - DECEMBER 13:  Paul Pogba of Juventus FC gestures during the Serie A match betweeen Juventus FC and ACF Fiorentina at Juventus Arena on December 13, 2015 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Pogba and our other youngsters must be relishing facing Bayern.

With Morata, Asamoah and Khedira still to find their rhythm and Pereyra soon to return to selection, we are only going to improve further. Four top class players to be added to a team which has regained the winning habit. In time to claw our way back towards title contention at home, and I believe, in time to mount a very serious challenge to the German Powerhouse come February.

I very much agreed with the majority of fiQ’s post, which rightly highlighted the need for our best players to be fit and in fine form (to stand a solid chance of progressing in Europe) as well as intelligently sounded out the experience and mentality of many of our stalwarts and even youngsters such as Morata. We have world cup winners in our starting XI. Internationals from Spain, Italy, France, Argentina and other national sides of solid reputation and potency. We have a wealth of experience and talent which is slowly coming together to form a new Juve, a new identity, one which none of us have known before.

Indeed, we are not the same side which reached the final last term, but that is not to say we are certainly a lesser side. We are simply different. Still finding our way, still recovering players from injury, whilst gathering winning momentum. None of us can say how we will look in February. I am naturally inclined to hope and assume that the Juve mentality Fino alla Fine is becoming imbued in the crimson rivers of the new recruits as much as it still flows strong and proud through the veins of our veterans.

Juventus has never been a team to fear any other. So why start now? We must and will respect Bayern, yet Respect is far removed from fear. They can and have been beaten. And will be beaten again. Perhaps by us. Why not eh?

This is a brilliant opportunity to test ourselves, to see how we far we have come on our journey back towards the summit of elite competition. What could we learn of our progress by playing Gent? Or through heading to an empty stadium in Kiev? Less, I suggest, than facing off against the very best Europe can presently offer.

The stage will be set for the making of heroes. For it will take a heroic performance, with a little help from Lady Luck, to emerge from the battle victorious. And for our younger players especially, what better way to earn your stripes? To announce yourself to the world as not just a player of potential, but one to be respected and talked of as a Titan. Dybala, Morata, Pogba, Sandro even Zaza must be licking their lips with excitement. For its these kind of fixtures which drew – at least the first four – to our club. Class players live for games like this.

 

‘I LOVE YOU’ squeals Allegri after Morata scores the winner at the Allianz arena?

In times of old, soldiers fresh out of training would dream of fighting a real battle, of proving themselves to both their compatriots and themselves, of throwing themselves into combat against the finest warriors the world knows if to not usurp, then to match them, slash for slash, gouge for gouge…Do we have that zeal in the ranks? I believe so.

Do we have a manager who is tactically adroit? I believe so.

Do we have the means to shut out any offence outside of Catalunya? I believe so.

In short, I believe in this Juve and all Juves past and future. I must do. For belief is part of true love.

So please, wipe away the tears, put away the shotgun, for there is no need for such drastic despondency. Join me in relishing the battle that awaits us, which I suspect will transition to the players and club as a whole, for who knows, maybe Dybala is reading this very forum…And if so, what would he rather find? Confidence and hope or expectation of defeat before a ball has been kicked, an ankle mangled by a beautiful Chiellini scything challenge?

Of course its tempting to time travel to Seville, or even to Monchengladbach, yet to what end! No value can come of such meanderings. We are where we are and true champions rise to the challenge, not crawl into the shadows.

This could be the making of a Juventus returning to the top table. Where I believe we belong.

We have…a chance. The only question is whether we will take it.