Wednesday May 2 2012
Juve’s Ministers of Defence

Juventus’ recent defensive efforts have assisted their current winning run. Luca Cetta focuses on the Bianconeri backline which may also feature prominently in Poland and Ukraine.

Impenetrable is a strong word to use. Leonardo Bonucci described the Juventus defence as such after another clean-sheet in Novara. As the strikers do the business at the other end – having scored 23 goals during the eight match streak – Gianluigi Buffon has only collected the ball from the net once in his past nine encounters.

“Our success at the back is an added value. I think our impenetrable defence is one of the secrets of this Juventus side,” claimed Bonucci following the victory at the Stadio Silvio Piola. In 35 games, Juve have conceded just 18 goals. This is comparable to Fabio Capello’s great Milan wall of 1993-94, which in 34 games were beaten just 15 times. During the first half of the campaign Juve were breached on 12 occasions, meaning just six goals in 16 matches have flown past. Only Genoa and Napoli have netted more than once in a match against Juve.

The Old Lady’s defensive swagger is unrecognisable from the previous two seasons, notably during the disastrous 2009-10 campaign in which Juventus finished with a negative goal difference and conceded more goals (56) than relegated Atalanta (53). Last term was an improvement but Juve still let in 47 strikes.

It has rendered Buffon with little to do at times. Throughout the current streak he was only seriously tested against Inter. Indeed Buffon would be thankful it is not currently the middle of winter. Those ahead – in either a back three or back four – have performed admirably to help ensure Italy’s No 1 has been given little to do, with Juve only allowing a Serie A low nine shots per match.

They are led by the ‘fantastic three’ Andrea Barzagli, the at-times maligned Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini. Paolo De Ceglie continues to grow in stature after injury last season put paid to what was an impressive opening. Martin Caceres slotted straight in following his January switch back to Turin and Stephan Lichtsteiner solved many of the issues at right-back plaguing Juventus since Lilian Thuram. Giuseppe Marotta can look to the transfer window to add central defensive depth to accommodate for next season’s additional commitments, but they are not required to spend in the region of €20m for the likes of Angelo Ogbonna.

More than just numbers, it is the confidence exuded which is striking. There is an aura about the entire side, but defensively Juve rarely look troubled. If in recent seasons fans would wonder at which minute of injury time they would concede the equaliser or winner, that is not the case now. The defence is also the first line of attack, with Chiellini and Barzagli amongst the top four for successful passes completed on Sunday, a regular occurrence for Antonio Conte’s men.

This can only be pleasing for Italy boss Cesare Prandelli. With Euro 2012 on the horizon he can pencil in at least the central defensive trio on the squad list. And given his recent showing, perhaps De Ceglie will force his way in, due to his ability to feature in multiple positions on the left-hand side. Marcello Lippi faced criticism for basing his side on Juventini in his second spell, but there can be no doubting if Prandelli utilises the newest ‘Blocco Juve’ to build his team from come June. Their versatility in differing formations also gives Prandelli another option.

Juve’s destiny will be finalised in the upcoming fortnight, but with comfortably the best defence in Serie A at his disposal, Conte will be confident they – and the team – can do the job required. Impenetrable may overstep the mark, but on recent showings, Bonucci may not be too far from the truth. 

Have your say...
The league is ours and we have the best defence in Europe....Forza JUVE.....
on the 3rd May, 2012 at 6:51pm
Seems Lichgsteiner has not been getting the credit he deserves... he has been a fantastic signing and in my opinion, may have been the best of the lot overall. bonucci was a disaster at different points in the season but has come on very well the last couple of months.. deceglie was not getting any playing time at the beginning of the season (if you all remember, Fabio Grosso started at LB the very first game of the season).. Lichsteiner has been a constant galvanizing force since Day 1.
on the 3rd May, 2012 at 2:11pm
The draw against Lecce will allow Juve to take the last two games very seriously and not make any mistake. I know we are going to win for sure! Forza Juve
on the 3rd May, 2012 at 12:56pm
I dont think the quality of the individual Juve defenders is that greta however it is their ability to play as a team. Alos in the modern game much more obligation is placed on the midfielders to be very close to their defenders as it then creates to line sof defence. This is how Chelsea overcame Barca. I am concerned however that in the champions league the Juve defence may get complacent. The attacking talent in the CL and the speed of the teams will be a big shock for Juve.
on the 2nd May, 2012 at 7:47pm
Certainly the midfield has contributed too and I would have loved to have fitted it in, but I didn't want to be writing another 500 words! But what the trio ahead have done is also critical to the overall success, of that there is no doubt.
on the 2nd May, 2012 at 2:31pm
The defense has proved immensely from seasons past. However, as other users have pointed out - the midfield contributes a lot to the defending; e.g. Marchisio-Pirlo-Vidal. Vidal, himself, has been huge in preventing the ball even reaching the backline on many occassions throughout the season. However, have an Azzurri backline consisting of Juve players is a no-brainer. Through in Maggio, Balzaretti, and Abate. Bring in De Ceglie (he deserves at least a spot on the bench).Barzagli has been great
on the 2nd May, 2012 at 2:06pm
@moh--yes this is the same defence as last season but the attitude is different. attitude is more important than quality. take vidal, he maynot be on the same level as mascherano or iniesta but it is his attitude that has increased his value.
on the 2nd May, 2012 at 1:21pm
Juve have the best defence but does that mean they got the best defenders ??? I think it's their style of play which allows them to concede less. Playing a 3-5-2 system with 3 well positioned defenders while the wing backs playing more in midfield & the three tennors controlling the central midfield i.e Pirlo, Vidal & Marchisio. Juve also play with a high line line Barcelona does with the defence pushing up field.

Apart from Lichtsteiner, this is the same defence as last season
on the 2nd May, 2012 at 11:59am
Scudetto here we come FORZA JUVE!!!!!
on the 2nd May, 2012 at 11:57am
I am happy with Juve's defense, but I wish it was tested more often. Of the remaining games, the Coppa Italia final against Napoli should provide a good test for Juve's defense.
on the 2nd May, 2012 at 11:43am
I totally agree. Furthermore I think, along with Pirlo, Lichsteiner has been the signing of the season and one of very few world class rightbacks. The defence has brought back the fear in playing against Juventus. Because of that psychology, we are 1-0 up before kickoff. A world class striker and we are back up where we belong.
on the 2nd May, 2012 at 11:37am
Im no juve supporter but for the sake of the italian national team im hoping the all mighty azzurri will snatch the euro cup away from the spanish !
on the 2nd May, 2012 at 11:23am
The defence have been a revelation this season, without doubt. But this Juve defend as team and the midfield's efforts aiding the defence cannot be glossed over. Even Pirlo has done well in that department.
on the 2nd May, 2012 at 10:48am

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