The traditional summer tournament kicked off the new season last night on possibly the world’s worst pitch. The Stadio San Nicola in Bari is unaccustomed to top flight football, but even then there was no excuse for this vegetable patch of a playing surface. Martin Caceres and Simone Pepe paid the price, going off injured with a badly sprained knee and thigh strain respectively, while Lucio hopes the turf was to blame for his two defensive howlers.
All in all, it was not a great tournament for Juventus – despite the front page of today’s Tuttosport making it look as if they had won it. Injuries, Lucio not only slow but also surprisingly poor in the air, a chronic inability to finish off chances, scoring only with a soft penalty and worst of all Mirko Vucinic taking style tips from Marco Borriello. Please let’s hope the moustache, side-parting and floppy fringe is not going to become some sort of bizarre football fashion statement.
The Trofeo TIM highlighted how Juve desperately need a world class striker. They cannot compete in the Champions League and Serie A if they continue to waste scoring opportunities, something that was already apparent even in the Scudetto-winning campaign. These performances fuelled calls for Robin Van Persie or Stevan Jovetic to be drafted in, though I can’t help but wonder why Robert Lewandowski is not more of a target than Mattia Destro.
If Juve fans are a little concerned, then Milanisti are getting out the pitchforks and preparing to storm the castle. It’s a bad sign when your own supporters start legal action to get their season tickets reimbursed, accusing the club of ‘false advertising.’ Perhaps using Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva in the ad campaign was not the wisest choice... Many internationals are still away, but the fact remains this Rossoneri side looks more likely to compete for a Europa League spot than the Scudetto. “Some players have left and for now I can only work with the elements at my disposal,” said an increasingly desperate Massimiliano Allegri. The lack of options was obvious all over the park and it’ll take more than three free transfers to get this side going.
Inter can enjoy the Trofeo TIM, as they have done eight times in the total 12 editions. Their success was somewhat predictable considering their season begins on August 2 with the Europa League preliminary round. Andrea Stramaccioni gets his first pre-season to work with a senior team and has impressed with his maturity and tactical acumen. Rodrigo Palacio and his ludicrous pleated rat-tail of a hairstyle are settling in quickly, while at last someone might be able to get the best out of Philippe Coutinho in Serie A.
Of the three sides, the Nerazzurri are the ones who already appear to have a set identity, as Juve could still change radically depending on what type of striker they bring in. If the Bianconeri could go from seventh place to Scudetto winners in a year, why not Strama’s Inter?