Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Juve preview: Thuram writes our team talk for us.

Player by player Juve are superior to Arsenal and it will not be a surprise if we were to get three or four goals.

Now the whole world will see what the real Juventus is all about. We are out for revenge for the humiliation we suffered.

Lilian Thuram

So, it seems at least some of the Juve players are recognising that we gave them something of a footballing lesson last week at Highbury. In the case of Thuram, however, and surely some of the other Juve players, this has led to the hubristic tongue being poked out.

I'm sure that Juve can't play as badly as they did last week. Even with 3 players suspended, they will be better. I'm expecting an avalanche of pressure to fall on us in the opening 20 minutes as Juve look to get a quick first goal from which they can then try and control the match. I don't think we'll see the opening sparring that we did in the first leg, where, at the beginning of the match, neither team wanted to probe too deeply. This ended when we realised Juve's defence could be opened almost at will.

But whilst Some of Juve's players obviously have great confidence that they can turn this leg around, I wonder whether this will work to our favour, again. If the big teams in Europe - Juve, Ac, Barca, Madrid - continue to see us as, essentially, a medium sized club over-performing, I'm sure we can use this to our advantage. We can use Juve's confidence against them, and continue where we left off at Highbury. I really don't think Juve have half the desire or hunger that we have for this trophy. They are an old team. Nedved, who returns today, is past his past, a fabulous player in the midst of decline. Del Piero's out as well, but he is also way past his peak. Two players who might have showed more hunger, Trezeguet andIbrahomvic, didn't look too bothered at Highbury. Juve also seem to have been in dissaray since last Tuesday. While we went out and hammered Villa, Juve struggled towards a 0-0 with relegation threatened Treviso. This charming exchange occured when Capello substituted Ibrahimovic [thanks to ANR]:

Capello: "Don't play like shit."
Ibrahimovic: "If you don't like it, mister, take me off."
Capello: "Get off then".
Ibrahimovic, as he leaves the field: "Fuck off. And don't tell me I play like shit."

Ah, team spirit from the Lee Bowyer/Kieron Dyer school of football. One can only hope this malaise continues into tonight's match.

As for us, The injury news is largely positive thusfar; this link also has the full squad. Eboue's chances of playing have increased from 30 to 80% overnight: either a typo was involved, or he's now definitely in contention to start. I think he will. This will avoid the 'how do we play Sol, without him weakening the team' problem that could have otherwise arisen. The other big talking point is Freddie's return: it seems pretty certain that he'll start in front of Bobby, which has led to speculation that this has pushed Bob even further toward the door. I think he should realise that whilst he played fantastically last week, our CL run has been built on a great espirit de corps and that the team needs to stick together tonight, and suport each other regardless of individual desires/pride. Juve's conspicuous lack of team spirit largely did for them last week.

So the XI I think will start:

eboue kolo phil Flami
Hleb Ljunberg Gilbs Fab Jose

Our game plan should be quite simple tonight: don't sit back and defend and let Juve pile pressure on us. Frustrate Juve's attacks in midfield, and make quick breaks. Juve are expecting to score the first goal: defend as a unit, and deny them this, because If we score first this game is over. We need to remember that. Freddie's sheer work rate is why he's been preferred. Diaby might come on if Fab's foot starts to cause him problems: that's no problem, he can fill the role more than adequately.

Juve are expecting to win tonight; we need to use this against them. As Arsene said: Two months ago we were considered a joke. Now we are favourites to win. The truth is somewhere in between. If I were him, I'd just read out Thuram's comments to the team before the match. Prove him wrong boys, again. No one really gave us a chance against Madrid or in the first Juve match, and we more than silenced the critics. We just need to keep our feet on the ground and battle for 90 minutes, if not more. A week ago I said Arsenal had been young, hungry, and Imperious. We still are and we need to show it.

Thuram is confident that people will see the 'real' Juve tonight; I say we continue to show the world who the 'real' Arsenal are. Victoria Concordia Crescit. Nuff said.


jobby said...

I know I know I know that this tie isnt anywhere near over, and we have an awful lot of work to do but if we do get through to the semi's does anyone know where the first game will be.

Anonymous said...


Puskas said...

Jeeeeebus. I've been out of the office all day and not had an opportunity to sit and get excited about the game, I've just been bottling it all up. Now I'm back in the office and time seems to have slowed down, I can't take this anymore. Haven't been this excited about a game, well, since last Tuesday. I think we'll get the first goal on the break as they push high up the field trying to score. I just can't see them being able to deal with the pace of our attack, we just need to keep it tight in midfield and defence.

Goonerboy said...

Some light relief.

I agree. For some reason I keep on thinking about how excited I was in '95 before the CWC final. I don't know why my mind is doing this, other than intense nerves.

I think we'll do it, but it's gonna be a damn hard night.

Puskas said...

Heh, nice link. Here's hoping!!