Calcio Debate: The Problems Of Juventus, Inter & Milan Revealed

The ‘Big Three’ all slipped up at the weekend in matches that highlighted their weaknesses. Carlo Garganese explores the problems that Juve, Inter & Milan need to fix…
An American author who is not famous enough to warrant quoting her name once said that “success is achieved by developing our strengths, not by eliminating our weaknesses”. In the world of football this is not strictly true, and it is clear that Juventus, Inter, and to a much greater extent Milan, have issues that need addressing if 2009/10 is to be a successful season.

At the weekend, the trio were all hugely disappointing as Inter lost at Sampdoria while Juventus and Milan drew with minnows Bologna and Bari respectively. What is more worrying is that neither of the three supergiants deserved to win their matches, even if the Nerazzurri perhaps merited a point in Genoa.

Below are the problems that Juve, Inter and Milan need to treat…

Juventus - Defence

Somewhat surprisingly, Juventus currently have the joint-best defensive record in Serie A after six matches played with only four goals conceded. Don’t let this fool you, though, as in reality the Bianconeri backline has been extremely vulnerable. Were it not for the repeated heroics of goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, Juve would have conceded more than double this total of goals.

Part of the problem could be the fact that up to three of the first-choice back four were signed this summer, and it may take time for them to acclimatise, not so much to each other due to the Italy national team connection, but, to the team and system as a whole.


Buffon has saved Juve this season

The key issue with the defence is the lack of depth. Against Chievo, Roma and Lazio, coach Ciro Ferrara was able to select his star stoppers – Fabio Cannavaro, Giorgio Chiellini (and Fabio Grosso after he arrived from Lyon) - and Juventus looked mean at the back, conceding just one goal. Since then Cannavaro has been out injured, and in the subsequent clashes against Livorno, Genoa and Bologna – particularly the former and the latter – the backline has been opened up far too easily.

To put it simply, Juventus need their three star components to play together at all times. One weak link is sustainable – Barcelona showed that last season with Eric Abidal – but two or more can be disastrous. It also cannot be underestimated just how important a fit and firing Cannavaro is. The 36-year-old organises the defence, unlike Chiellini and Nicola Legrottaglie who are more reactive than proactive.

Finally, Cristian Molinaro must never step foot on the football pitch ever again.

Inter - Midfield

While Juventus’ main problems lie in defence, Inter’s are situated in midfield. The Nerazzurri possess strength, efficiency and defensive protection in abundance, but they are sorely lacking in the technical and creative department.

This has been an ongoing problem since 2006, only that up until this summer there was a certain Zlatan Ibrahimovic in attack who made up for all these deficiencies. The difference this season is that without the now-Barcelona man, Inter do not have the option to miss out the midfield with a long pass in the knowledge that Ibra will hold up the ball and work his magic.


No more Ibra to disguise Inter's midfield problems

With two relatively small strikers in Diego Milito and Samuel Eto’o everything has to be played through the midfield, which means creative and technical qualities are even more important. It has been evident so far – with the exception of the heavy wins over two embarrassing Milan and Napoli outfits – that there is little offensive blend or penetration in the middle third.

Wesley Sneijder was supposed to be the link between midfield and attack, but he has not convinced yet. It is questionable whether the Dutchman is a natural trequartista, while those behind him are almost exclusively ball winners rather than providers. Away from home this could prove to be a problem for Inter, even more so in the Champions League where possession football and artistic enterprise is so important.

Milan – Everywhere

It will take more than four paragraphs to explain Milan’s problems as there is not a single area on the field that doesn’t need addressing. As my father remarked last night after the dismal goalless home draw against Bari, probably angered by the fact they had cost him the pools, “Milan need to buy a whole new team.”

Indeed, that is not a too far-fetched statement. A fortnight ago I asked the question whether this was ‘The Worst Milan Team In 25 Years’, and 77.5 per cent of Goal.com’s readers agreed that it was. When Marco Storari is your star man against Bari, you realise that these are tough times.


The worst Milan in 25 years?

The model assessment of Milan in recent weeks came from former Sampdoria coach Walter Mazzarri last night on 'Domenica Sportiva', where he argued that the Rossoneri are not athletic enough to cope anymore. An obvious evaluation, but one that is evident in every outfield department on the pitch.

The wingbacks are just not good enough. Edgar Alvarez ran rings around the ever-ageing Gianluca Zambrotta yesterday, while Ignazio Abate despite his blistering pace is no “new Cafu” as Adriano Galliani proclaims. The midfield is tragically slow – with the likes of Rino Gattuso and Massimo Ambrosini chasing shadows. Ronaldinho can’t even dribble in his mouth anymore, while Klaas Jan Huntelaar is completely useless in a line-up that doesn’t control the tempo. In six games Milan have scored just three goals.

In simple terms – “Milan need to buy a whole new team”.

What are your views on this topic? What are the problems that Juventus, Inter and Milan need to address? Goal.com wants to know what YOU think…

Carlo Garganese, Goal.com