3826: Juventus set for swift return
by : David Hulott
In the immediate aftermath of the decision to demote Juventus and deduct them 30-points for their part in the Italian match-fixing scandal, the future was looking fairly bleak for La Vecchia Signora (The Old Lady).
The relegation presented coach Fabio Capello with the ideal excuse to jump ship for Real Madrid and it seemed inevitable that there would be a major exodus of star names to boot. In the event, the player sale was less than might have been expected, although losing players of the calibre of Fabio Cannavaro; Emerson; Gianluca Zambrotta; Patrick Vieira; Lilian Thuram; Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Adrian Mutu was certainly bad enough.
The plus side was that Gianluigi Buffon; Pavel Nedved; Alessandro Del Piero; David Trezeguet and Giorgio Chiellini were all retained, while new coach Didier Deschamps was also able to bolster his squad with the likes of Valeri Bojinov and Marco Marchionni, ensuring that Juve went into the new campaign with comfortably the strongest squad in Serie B.
Their cause was further boosted by the initial appeal in late July that saw their punishment cut to 17-points, ensuring that they went into the new campaign with genuine hopes of an immediate return to the top-flight. On Friday the deduction was further cut to just nine-points by the Italian Olympic Committee tribunal which, given their storming start to the season, has left them looking strong favourites to secure automatic promotion at the first attempt. Thankfully that should be the end of the appeals process, although at the current rate Juve could move into credit if they were to press on.
Other than an opening day 1:1 draw at Rimini (the Rimini goal coming courtesy of a poor back-pass from one Jean-Alain Boumsong), Juventus has won every league game to date to wipe out their deficit and move into mid-table. Indeed, in their opening eight games, only Rimini and Vicenza have managed to score against them, with clean sheets in their last six matches.
The combination of the points-deduction being so drastically cut and the excellent results should ensure that there is no further exodus in the January transfer window, with the increasing likelihood of promotion suggesting that the club will not be forced into any sales from a financial viewpoint, while the remaining star turns are unlikely to want to move in the New Year if they decided to stay put in the summer.
The 1:0 win over Frosinone on Saturday was notable for providing captain Del Piero with his 200th goal in a Juventus shirt. He should have further cause for celebration at the end of the season.
30 October 2006