Calcio Debate: Juventus Will Never Win Anything With Mellberg, Molinaro & Grygera

Juventus’ Scudetto hopes were dashed after their failure to beat Chievo. Carlo Garganese blasts sporting director Alessio Secco’s transfer policy, and argues that some serious investment must be made to the Old Lady’s defence this summer...

“Once upon a time teams like Chievo came to Juventus to see how many goals they would concede. Today they come looking for victory,” roared a furious Mauro Camoranesi following yesterday’s 3-3 draw in Turin that has, barring a Biblical miracle, certainly ended the Bianconeri’s dreams of the Scudetto.

With Inter scraping a somewhat fortuitous 1-0 win at Udinese, the gap between the top two in Serie A is now nine points, with just eight games left to play. Aside from the head-to-head clash next weekend, Juventus also still have to go away to third placed Milan, and fourth positioned Genoa. All of Inter’s remaining fixtures are against teams just above or below mid-table, meaning that it is quite possible the Nerazzurri’s advantage will further increase by the end of the campaign.

Claudio Ranieri is putting on a typically brave face and refusing to concede the Scudetto, but the wise thing to do now is for Juventus to start planning for next season, and ensure they buy the right players to give them a realistic chance of ending Inter’s post-Calciopoli Scudetto stranglehold.

The area that needs serious reconstruction is the defence.

Juventus may have the second best defensive record in Serie A, they may also have returned from Real Madrid in the Champions League without conceding, but the simple truth is that a defence consisting of Zdenek Grygera, Olof Mellberg and Cristian Molinaro will not win you major honours. These are average players who “once upon a time” would not have even made the Bianconeri substitutes bench, let alone be regular starters. Yesterday afternoon all three were very disappointing, particularly Mellberg, who was at fault for Sergio Pellissier’s second and third goals.

There is plenty of talk in the press about Juventus looking to sign another attacker this summer, with Fabio Quagliarella, Sergio Floccari, and even David Villa mentioned. If this materialises, then the 'Calcio Comedy' about Alessio Secco being an Inter spy may actually be more than just a satire.

Since the summer of 2006, when Luciano Moggi departed, and numerous champions such as Cannavaro, Zambrotta, Thuram, Vieira and Ibrahimovic jumped ship, it is fair to say that Secco has only strengthened one Juventus first team position via the transfer market. The Bianconeri’s current strongest team consists of Buffon; Grygera, Legrottaglie, Chiellini, Molinaro; Camoranesi, Marchisio, Sissoko, Nedved/Giovinco; Del Piero, Amauri

During their 2006/07 Serie B campaign, with the exception of Grygera, Sissoko and Amauri, all of the above players were Juventus-owned. The Czech right back is no superior to a fully fit (physically and psychologically) Jonathan Zebina. Amauri has been a revelation, but Juventus were already formidable in attack, as has been proved in his absence over the past few weeks, with Juve scoring 11 goals in their last three games. The only signing over the last three years who has strengthened a position of the pitch has been Momo Sissoko.

This, in a nutshell, sums up what a disaster Secco has been. If it had not been for the old guard, and talented youngsters such as Chiellini, Marchisio, De Ceglie and Giovinco coming through, things could have been really ugly now. Consider just how good Juve could now be if they had nailed just one position in each of the last three years.

Secco and the transfer team will get a fourth chance to put things right this summer, and if they have any sense they will spend all their money on a full back, centre back and midfielder. Concentrating on the topic of this debate, if you compare Juventus’ defence to Inter’s, you realise what has been the difference between the two sides this season. Nerazzurri reserves, such as Maxwell and Ivan Cordoba, would make the Juve first team, while the regular backline of Maicon, Samuel, Chivu and Santon are on another planet altogether, not forgetting Javier Zanetti, who can also drop back. Only Giorgio Chiellini can stand up to these players, but he cannot do everything by himself, and even the great Gianluigi Buffon is not winning the "eight-to-ten points a season" he once was.

Inter have certainly ridden their luck this season, and they have also received a number of favourable decisions from officials but, despite their predictable and pedestrian midfield, one thing you can say is that they know how to defend a lead. Seven clean sheets in their last 11, including four on the bounce, is enough evidence of this. With 21 goals conceded, Inter have the best defensive record in Serie A by quite some distance, and all this despite Chivu and Samuel playing just 25 league games between them due to injuries. If Inter had come from behind to go 3-2 up against Chievo, there would have been no chance of them letting it slip in injury time.

What Juventus need to do this summer is crystal clear, but who would bet against Secco and Ranieri buying another forward?

What are your views on this topic? Do you agree that Juventus will never win anything with their current defence? Who do they need to buy this summer? wants to know what YOU think…

Carlo Garganese,