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Spezia v Juventus PREVIEW


I was quite appalled by the performance in the week against Barcelona. Not at all encouraged by the three disallowed goals, for on the other side of the idea of how close we were to scoring thrice, applying the same reasoning to the visitors, would suggest an end result closer to 3-8!

Since the Samp outing we have made no progress. The result aside, I suppose, in Kiev, and yet…the Ukranians were lame, barely showing any attacking zeal or interest. Before and after that game we have been poor.

Our new boss has the unfortunate title of overseeing the worst start of any boss since Agnelli took over as President in 2010, which includes Del Neri.

The system does not (yet) work, other than creating a few chances each game which we are struggling to convert, that you would expect players of the calibre we have on the field to forge regardless of any tactical demand.

Our midfield pivot of 2 is easily bypassed wide because we have attackers tasked with operating as wingbacks. The 3 to 4 morphing back line is often all at sea and emerging too regularly as disconnected from the team defending as a whole. Players in form are dropped for no obvious reason other than…an unwavering focus on making the system work.

My fear is growing that Pirlo is too wedded to his thesis, to his one system, and is not showing any signs of finding a formation to fit the players. Quite the opposite. It is essential for any manager to understand the strengths and weaknesses of his squad and find a basic tactic and identity which brings out the best. Focusing solely upon idealism is a recipe for disaster, especially at the levels where we operate.

All of which is very deflating. And far removed from what I had hoped for, or expected from the bearded wonder. I am not affected in any way by my reverence for his legendary playing days…other than presently, I would rather he was in the starting XI than deciding its makeup and movements.

I am baffled by the removal of Ramsey mid-week. Our only in form midfielder in a vitally important position, and yet dropped for Dybala – who was clearly lacking sharpness at the weekend – to operate in a role where he has never excelled.

Also Frabrotta…who has looked one of the most solid players on the field whenever given a start, able to man the flank at both ends; potentially the first serious contender for the senior squad to emerge from the youth ranks. And yet he is dropped often to try shoe-horn Juan, Kulu or Chiesa into unnatural positions to their game.

It is concerning to find echoes of Sarri already circling in my thoughts. For he was tactically a one trick pony. Never changing. Yet at least he generally put players in their natural roles, and I don’t recall him dropping in form players.

Whilst the season is still close to young, and we are probably fine in the CL group albeit due to the weakness of 2 other teams, it seems clear to me that the current system is not taking hold and showing signs of life and reason to continue. My cynical expectations from even before Sarri was culled now take on more solidity – progression from the CL group into the knockout stage and a top 3/4 finished domestically.

Many others are suggesting, myself included, that the best fit for our talents begins with a back four, behind a 2-3-1 or 3-2-1. We need our players to be put where they are at their best, as in their regular roles. Kulu was a flying right wing forward last season. Chiesa was similar but also played often close to a SS or even CF role. It is no wonder he offers little defensively and leaves gaping holes when bombing up the field.

We do not have any natural wingbacks in the squad other than Juan (converted and decent enough), Frabrotta and Sandro. Yet we play with a system hugely dependent on wingbacks. Which adds weight to my growing despondency rooted in Pirlo choosing system over clear appraisal of our technical stock and aiming to use that in the best way.

The midfield pivot of 2 makes no sense to me unless there are 3 players in front of them, and this is not the case with how we are playing.

Yet onto the match ahead…

Spezia are far from whipping boys elect nor are they a particularly tricky side. Likely to persist between the bottom fearful and mid table, at best. Their form is solid enough to avoid any major mauling as of yet, but they are a side we really should be beating without major struggle. With the pressure now building on Pirlo, more than the players, I hope for a positive performance, yet have only regretful ideas of how we may line up.

The return of Ronaldo alone should be enough to win the game, but how does the front line work around him? I would hope that Frabrotta comes in, given Ronaldo naturally likes to occupy the LWF area and cut in, so it makes sense to have a more defensive strength behind him on that flank.

Will Morata still start? Probably…given his form and also, a CF seems a certainty in the current Pirlo thesis in test mode. Though what then of Dybala? No Ramsey and La Joya dropping deep, where he is at his weakest? Or a tucked in RWF? I would be fine with him in that role, and Juan behind him on that flank.

The likelihood however is that at least one of Kulu or Chiesa will start in the wrong position.

Mckennie could also be in from the off, to get back to match sharpness, with hopefully Arthur afforded more time to move through the gears.

Chiellini appears close to available, but why rush him back when this is not, at least on paper, a tough game? Better to give him some minutes late on. Still, with Bonucci nursing a knock, the old timer may well be given the nod.

Expected formation-

Let us hope we can return to winning ways and show some signs of life in this new era, beyond earning victory through the individual talents of Ronaldo or Morata.

Forza Juve

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