Wednesday September 18 2013
Quagliarella to the rescue

While Napoli and Milan were preparing for their Champions League opener, Juventus dropped points in Denmark. Luca Cetta writes.

What is it about Copenhagen’s Parken Stadium that irritates Juventus? For the second season running Antonio Conte’s side could only manage a draw in the Danish capital. In 2012-13 it was Nordsjaelland in a 1-1 draw. Yesterday, Juve were frustrated by FC Copenhagen and held to the same result. Only Fabio Quagliarella’s second half strike saved Juve from a more embarrassing scoreline.

‘What a waste Juve’, scolded the Gazzetta dello Sport this morning. In a tricky Group B, the Bianconeri have already made life difficult. This would’ve been pencilled in as a three pointer to get the campaign off and running. Instead, Juve look back and wonder.

“Experience teaches me if you don’t put the ball in the net then you’re not going to win,” said a disappointed Conte. “We have to learn that no matter how many chances you create, they have to go in.”Johan Wiland proved inspired in the FCK goal, making fantastic saves to deny Giorgio Chiellini, Paul Pogba and Carlos Tevez, amongst others.

Yet despite his interventions, the Turin club had enough of the game and created ample opportunities – 27 to be exact – to render Wiland a side note to proceedings. At the other end, Nicolai Jorgensen profited from hesitant defending to open the scoring inside the opening quarter of an hour. It capped a slow start that would come back to haunt the Bianconeri.

The stalemate complicates matters, although Juve did recover from three consecutive draws last term to then win their group. However, an opening day draw at the home of the defending champions – coming back from two goals down and controlling the game in the process – is a far cry from the result 12 months on.

Similar to Stamford Bridge, it was Quagliarella to the rescue. If not for his sweeping finish Juve were headed for a defeat. And just like a year ago, the Castellammare di Stabia native came closest to earning all three points when he hit the crossbar with scores level.

His fifth Champions League goal – after four in seven matches last season – was a reminder of what Quagliarella can offer. That he would be saving Juve in the Champions League looked highly unlikely a month ago. Then, Quagliagol seemed on the scrapheap. His future was subject to constant speculation and as the transfer window drew to a close, it appeared Quagliarella would be headed to the capital. But with offers on the table, potential deals were scuppered seemingly by Conte.

And just as he did in both clashes against Chelsea, Quagliarella popped up here with a pivotal strike. Thrust into the role of an impact player, Quagliarella has reminded of his ability to net important goals, and not just against tiring defences.

Nonetheless, it proved a poor start for Juventus in what was the easiest of the three games for Italian clubs. Napoli are preparing for a blockbuster against Borussia Dortmund, while Milan welcome Celtic to the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.

For the Neapolitans the visit of last season’s finalists marks their return to the competition following a one-year absence. Their last Champions League outing proved memorable, notably home wins over Manchester City and Chelsea. Now they come in a more experienced unit. One of only two teams to retain their 100 per cent record in Serie A after three matches, this represents Napoli’s first true test.

While shaky at the back, they’ve looked potent going forward. Coach Rafa Benitez insists they will attack. It’s a sentiment echoed by Marek Hamsik, who told the Gazzetta earlier this week the Partenopei are a more possession-based and aggressive side nowadays. Yet Dortmund have looked superb in early Bundesliga matches and fired a warning by smashing Hamburg 6-2 on the weekend.

Milan’s plethora of injuries dominates the talk emanating from their camp. They reacquaint themselves with the Bhoys after some tremendous battles in the mid-to-late 2000s, but do so without a number of soldiers. Four youth players are called up because of injuries suffered by Kaka, Riccardo Montolivo, Stephan El Shaarawy, Giampaolo Pazzini, Ignazio Abate, Mattia De Sciglio, Daniele Bonera and Matias Silvestre.

Celtic are back on Italian soil after meeting Juventus last season. They stunned Barcelona to ultimately make the last 16 and so the Rossoneri must be wary. Coach Massimilano Allegri has conceded they are fighting for second spot alongside the Scots and Ajax, with Barca favourites to finish first. It means they cannot afford to slip-up at home.

It proved a frustrating start for Juventus, who despite bossing possession and territory, lacked any semblance of a killer instinct in attack. The Italian assault last night stalled on the start line, but later today Napoli and Milan have the opportunity to get the charge going.

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Have your say...
If Juve really wants to sustainably reach Top5 status in the European Champions League , they need to sign Reus, Gündogan, a scorer of Falcao's class and a Vice-Buffon. Hence spend more than EUR 100 mn ..... you can draw your own conclusions.
on the 20th September, 2013 at 4:45pm

Replace Conte with Prandelli! That is a statement of pure insanity. Conte has lost 9 competitive games out of 101 & has won 4 trophies, so I don't think luck has a great deal to do with it. Regarding your absurd ramblings about free transfers. Bendtner was a lone signing. Ziegler was signed before Conte took charge. Llorente has hardly played in the last 18 months and will only be brought in once he is up to speed. You also failed to mention Pirlo & Pogba were free transfers.
on the 20th September, 2013 at 1:29am
@ Interista

I find it hilarious that Inter fans still believe that all their fake trophies won post Calcopoli were legitimate titles and something to boast about. It is a fact of law that Inter were the true criminals of Calcopoli. It is also a fact that the wire-tape evidence, proving this, was buried till just after the statue of limitations rendered it inadmissible. Claiming to be champions in 2006, after finishing third, just shows how pathetic and desperate your fake champion club are.
on the 20th September, 2013 at 1:14am

I agree.
Giancherini gives solutions to infiltrate a packed defence line. Selling him is Juve biggest mistake.
They will regret.

In Short:
We need a replacement for Pirlo other than Pougba
The players must stop underestimating small teams. We struggle to defeat them. Napoli have been crushing there opponents.We can do the same.
on the 19th September, 2013 at 9:06am
@ Daniel Giambrone I agree with you to a certain degree about Pirlo. I think he has another World Cup in him and on his day he can be sublime. I just hope that this season he gets some breaks as he does seem to be struggling. We've still got Verratti waiting in the wings...
on the 19th September, 2013 at 8:46am
This is what you'll see if u can sell players like Giancherini and keep peluso, PDC, Isla. I am very much sure Gianch can allow conte for a plan B. But he is no more a juve a player and pepe is injured. So, those of you who are talking of plan B note that for a couch to change plan, he need different types of players and in this juve, there are no much of them. There are 5 more games to play and I'm sure we'll qualify bcos I've confidence that we can beat gala and madrid. Forza juve!
on the 19th September, 2013 at 6:52am
@ Ospen

Yeah central defence should always be for Bonucci, but what choices Conte had in that match ?

You know that Ogbonna is left-footed, right ?

They did it in the league only for few minutes and because Barzagli came off injured. Do you think the right position in 3 defenders is suitable for a left-footed ? Absolutely not !
on the 19th September, 2013 at 6:52am
Same story different year, what i will say again is that Quags is the most underrated italian striker in italy, this man should be on the italian squad ahead of gilardo and Osvaldo!! Not used nearly enough at Juve he sits and watches while these two I mentioned get the call for Italy, how many strikers can play make and score goals like he can!! he always puts the team first full of humility with loads of talent and heart ...come on Prandelli look at this player as you do Zacherinni!!!
on the 18th September, 2013 at 9:55pm
@Daniel Giambrone

Regarding Pirlo, sad but true that's what happened to him at he's last season for Milan. Then he went to Juve and had 2 seasons with incredible performances. However, (I don't hope) but just as you said, he's spark is fading due to age and many factors.
on the 18th September, 2013 at 9:41pm
@ mustafaaaa

Central defence should always be for Bonucci. He's best there.
Ogbonna goes to the right, they did this in the league so why the tinkering.

Conte needs to do squad rotation period.

Dude we are suffering to defeat weak opponents.
Wake up.
Napoli have been crushing opponents.

Lets hope this was just a blip and we see a hungerier Juve.
on the 18th September, 2013 at 9:20pm
@ Daniel Giambrone

Dude, don't be pessimisstic.

Pirlo had been affected by the stupid international break, so had Vidal and Chiellini and the others. I can see that these three had been affected heavily.

Despite the good performance from Pogba, Juve need Marchisio as he gives more solutions tactically.
on the 18th September, 2013 at 9:19pm
@ mustafaaaa

Central defence should always be for Bonucci. He's best there.
Ogbonna goes to the right, they did this in the league so why the tinkering.

Conte needs to do squad rotation period.

Dude we are suffering to defeat weak opponents.
Wake up.
Napoli have been crushing opponents.

Lets hope this was just a blip and we see hungerier Juve.
on the 18th September, 2013 at 9:16pm
Better Willian now than Pirlo. Sorry guys.
on the 18th September, 2013 at 8:11pm
Another few problems we have is that players like De Ceglie, Peluso and Padoin are allowed to be in the squad. These 3 players especially are below average players who shouldn't be in the team, they don't bring anything new to the team or any sort of impact when coming off the bench. Juventus have already invested in young talents they just need to stop being sent off on loan and get some top level experience that can potentially push them to the next level.
on the 18th September, 2013 at 7:49pm
I don't enjoy saying this, but Pirlo is fading badly. Whether it's fatigue or his age, he is becoming less effective & more of a liability: over-dwelling on the ball, giving it away-sparking off opponents counter attacks. I cannot see Italy & Juve beating the strongest sides, (now), with him in the team. I would liked to have seen Juve sign another attacking midfield/winger over the summer to give them more tactical options as everyone knows how they are going to play now.
on the 18th September, 2013 at 7:44pm
Juventus played well to make opportunities for the strikers but clearly the strikers were not clinical enough to kill off the game and the goalkeeper was on top form, however I think Juventus's problems lay deeper and it's the 3-5-2, Conte is blinded by the unbeaten season and fails to see that the 3-5-2 isn't as successful as he thought. If he made some tactical changes and experimented with a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 i think Juve would have more success.
on the 18th September, 2013 at 7:39pm
@ Ospen

You and everybody needs to understand this, Llorente is NOT what you think he is. He's normal and nothing more. Being Spanish and having 36 million clause don't make a great player.

- Who would you want to play in center-back ? Vidal ?

- Peluso ran out of energy. Besides, De Ceglie made better movement in the few minutes he played.

The game was just as Conte described it, a cursed one.
on the 18th September, 2013 at 7:17pm

"The Italian league just wasn't competitive enough but this year it is a bit more with Napoli so well see what he does "

And here's the troll, trolling again, taking sideswipes at Conte this time. You are the biggest idiot in here. Just zip your mouth. Make a good point once in your life.
on the 18th September, 2013 at 7:09pm
juventus should of broke the bank for higuain 26 years old and he will score untold goals in fact i think napoli could well win the league with him and benitez at the helm.but as ppl have said why on earth does conte refuse to at least give loriente 20 minutes i mean i personally would play him and tevez im not a fan of quag vucinec is lazy and giovinco is simply to small.chiellini is a walking travesty i would play ogbonna instead of him that will save a goal a game against.
on the 18th September, 2013 at 6:23pm
@mez & @Mustafaaa

Mark my words. Llorentes fitness and opponent player heights is a pretext Conte used. I bet if he can't play only last 10 mintutes.

Wanna know where Conte screwed:
1. Ogbonna was clumpsy due to less playing time and suddenly plays center defence. The goal was his fault.
2. Peluso who was doing well on the far left was pulled out.
3. No squad rotation in inters game resulted in some major players underperform.

Juventus Players must stop underestimating weak opponents.
on the 18th September, 2013 at 6:21pm
Juventus keep making claim of how they will not make Inter's mistakes by continuing to build upon their 'success' HaHaHaHa you won two mediocre scudetto's, win the next 3 add in 4 coppa's 3 supercoppa's & the CL & a World Clubs cup then speak instead of drawing to Copenhagen before achieving anything & mouthing off.
on the 18th September, 2013 at 4:00pm
What is it with conte and his stupid habit of signing players like bendtner, Ziegler and llorente for nothing. Llorente is a good player, failing to get the best out of him is poor management.

I like conte a lot, he is good, but I wouldn't be crying if in the summer he leaves and prandelli replaces him. Conte's luck is running out. I don't care about his exploits in the league. The Italian league just wasn't competitive enough but this year it is a bit more with Napoli so well see what he does
on the 18th September, 2013 at 3:59pm
It's sad to see the Italian papers sugar coating last night's game. It was awful and it's embarrassing for Juventus and Italian futbol. Conte should have injected Llorente around 70min - yes, he's "tall".. to stretch out the Danish backline to let his 'shorter' Tevez expose the spaces.
on the 18th September, 2013 at 2:20pm
There was nothing wrong with the tactics. Juve created numerous chances and it's a shame about the result which does not reflect the match. Anyway there's no need to panic, I'm sure we will qualify for next round.
on the 18th September, 2013 at 2:10pm
Barn and Door spring to mind. Once again Juventus management making mess up of the striker situation. What’s happened to Giovinco and Llorente? Personally I would have brought Gonzalo Hinguain rather than Tevez. But once again Juventus took the cheaper option of trying to solve a well known problem. Someone should tell the strikers that you can shoot either side of the Goalkeeper. Going by the crazy fought process of the Juventus management, I’m surprised they didn’t keep Nicklas Bendtner and Nicolas Anelka.
on the 18th September, 2013 at 1:58pm
It was one of those nights last night, everything Juve did was destined to be saved, hit the bar etc etc. The more serious problem however is that Conte seems to be missing a Plan B, all his subs were like for like replacements, why after 2 years of trying to buy Llorente now that we finally have the man does he seem against playing him at all, we were crying out for something different last night and surely that's what Llorente is there for. Conte has done great things but needs a plan B
on the 18th September, 2013 at 1:53pm
Let's all take a chill pill and not drop into the usual mass hysteria. Juve missed one-on-one sitters...any other day it would have been 6-1 and no-one would say anything about possible tactics or substitutions.
5 games to go. Let's see what happens.
on the 18th September, 2013 at 1:48pm
I think the three at the back is also a problem. When the game gets stretched the too wide cbs get stretched while the too wing backs are expected to cover the flanks on there own. I'm a huge fan of contes. He's brought stability to the club but he's tactics are majorly flawed
on the 18th September, 2013 at 1:02pm
Can I just return to Milan's injury crisis. It would be interesting if FT did an article on this. Pato's comments are very interesting especially since (according to Wikipedia) he has played 18 games for Corinthians since his moved in January which is more than he had played for 2 years previously at Milan. He's also scored 7 goals in that time. Questions need to be asked about why Milan are always "unlucky" with injuries.
on the 18th September, 2013 at 1:06pm
I am extremely nervous about Milan tonight. I reckon FT's prediction re probable starting 11 is probably (!?) correct. Its time for Birsa to shine. I have no idea who you are. You scored some goals on YouTube but I know you can do it! It really has come to this....
on the 18th September, 2013 at 12:56pm

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