Best Juventus Starting XI of All Time
Ny Anand Sindhu
Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon
Dino Zoff, the oldest ever winner of The World Cup, at the age of 40 years, 4 months and 13 days will be remembered as the greatest gloves to many who have set foot on the Italian footballing culture. But ask any Bianconeri,and the word from heart would be “Gigi”. If stats are anything to go by, Buffon proves no less credible than his senior countryman Dino Zoff.
Even Zoff’s exemplary record for the longest playing time without allowing any goal in international tournaments (1142 minutes) is matched with Buffon’s incredible show at the 2006 World Cup where he conceded just two goals (an own goal and a penalty converted by Zizou). There is really little to choose between these two with all the awards and the World Cup win they share and it’s unfair comparing such giants of the game. With the likes of Claudio Gentile and Gaetano Scirea protecting Zoff’s post,one would say Buffon has done extremely well in guarding Juventus and its status even when Zambrotta,Thuram and Cannavaro disbanded the team in turnover to the Calciopoli scandal.
Centre-Back/Right-Back: Claudio Gentile
The winner of six Serie A titles (1974–75, 1976–77, 1977–78, 1980–81, 1981–82, 1983–84) at Fidanzata d’Italia Gentile, the Robert De Niro look alike is well known for being a fierce tackler and as the man who denudated Diego Maradona in the 1982 World Cup in Spain after which he quoted “Football is not for ballerinas!”, funny man!.During his time at Juventus he formed a formidable partnership with Gaetano Scirea.Not only a centre back, he was equally proficient as a full back.He was one of the toughest defenders to have played the game .
Centre-Back: Gaetano Scirea
The man who kept a legend like Franco Baresi out of the Italian team for many years shows what class he was born with. Arguably the greatest libero in the history of the game, along with Franz Beckenbauer, even in those days Scirea played as a modern sweeper who came out of his defense to provide useful passes and goal scoring opurtunities.
Marco Tardelli’s second goal in the 1982 World Cup final is a fine example of his attacking instincts. To prolong his career he played as a pure centre back in latter stages, even then he was as stylish and graceful, with perfect tactical understanding. To his credit he never received a red card in his playing tim – a stat rarely seen of an Italian defender – rather any defender or any player for that matter. He was the captain of the Bianchoneri’s golden generation in the 80s.With Juventus he won 7 scudetto (1974–75, 1976–77, 1977–78, 1980–81, 1981–82, 1983–84, 1985–86) and the infamous 1985 European Championship at the Heysel Stadium. He died tragically in a car accident in 1989 at the tender age of 36.
Centre-Back/Left-Back: Antonio Cabrini
Probably the most commanding and powerful left-back in the 80s, Cabrini participated in all of Italy’s games in 3 consecutive World Cups, in 1978, 1982 and 1986 and was fleet footed and a great crosser who hardly allowed the wingers to cut in .The world felt his presence at a mere age of 20 when he was awarded the young player of the tournament at the 1978 world cup held in Argentina. With the Turin side, he won the Italian Serie A 6 times (976–77, 1977–78, 1980–81, 1981–82, 1983–84, 1985–86) and the European Cup of 1985. Cabrini was nicknamed Bell’Antonio for his popularity as a fascinating and good-looking football player.
Defensive Midfielder: Marco Tardelli
[Tardelli’s celebration in the 1982 Word Cup final is one of the most enduring images.]
A prolific player for the Old Lady, making 259 appearances, Tardelli provided a great balance in the midfield with passing skills, tackling and positioning. His interception, along with vision, made him an indispensable member for both the Azzuris and Bianconeri. During his decade-long stint at the Turin club, he won all the three major European competitions: the UEFA Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup and European Cup as well as five times the Italian Serie A championship(1976–77, 1977–78, 1980–81, 1981–82, 1983–84).
Right Midfielder/Second Striker: John Charles
In 1997 Charles was voted as not only Juventus’ greatest-ever foreign player, but the best Serie A foreigner ever. When you consider that the likes of Diego Maradona, Zico, Marco Van Basten and Zinedine Zidane have all graced Italian playing fields, you realise just how brilliant Charles was. Signed from Leeds in 1957, ‘The Gentle Giant’ won three Serie A titles((1958, 1960, 1961) and was also voted the best player in the league in 1958. His sublime touch,aggression in going forward coupled with ambigious feet made life difficult for the opposing defenders. At Leeds Charles was more famous for his defending abilities until he was pushed forward and won Leeds promotion to top flight. As a centre back or centre forward Charles was a dominating force.
Attacking Midfielder: Michel Platini
The French legend is La Vecchia Signora one of the most important players. The current UEFA president played 222 games for the Turin side and was the turning point in the 1985 European Cup win. Le Roi as often called was an amazing passer, a free-kick specialist and won the Ballon d’Or three consecutive times, certainly making him one of the best playmakers in football history. Despite being a midfielder, he scored 41 goals for Les Bleus and finished top scorer in Serie A for three consecutive seasons with Juventus.
Left Midfielder/Left Wing: Pavel Nedved
A football player who gave everything on the pitch during his spell at Juventus, Pavel Nedved was widely known for his energy on the field, his refined shooting and his goalscoring ability. His instincts to come to the centre of the field made him a cannon like force to reckon with. The Furia Ceca led the Bianchoneri to the 2003 Champion’s League final, where they lost to Milan in a penalty shoot-out.
He also won the Ballon d’Or the same year. With such reputation he could easily have left Juventus when they were relegated to Serie B. But his heart remained with the Old Lady. He was the Franco Causio Juventus always wanted and perhaps he was even better.
Attacking Midfielder: Zinedine Zidane
The player who called Paul Scholes the best midfielder of this generation definitely knows all of football. Be it the goals or the ‘The Mare’ turn (also known as 360),the aura of Zizou would put him in any football team of the world. Watching him play becomes a definition of how one wants a player to play – ladies and gentlemen, Zinedine Zidane.
Second Striker: Roberto Baggio
Both the Ballon d’Or and Fifa Player of the Year in 1993, Roberto Baggio was what Eric Cantona was to Manchester United. His knack of scoring goals provided Juventus the lost stardom. His presence groomed the likes of Del Piero. Baggio was a fearless striker who, like Paolo Rossi, single-handedly scored all the goals for the Azzuris at the World Cup. But with Rossi there was a formidable team – “Il Divin’ Codino” (The Divine Ponytail) took more of the burden for his team.
Centre Forward: Alessandro Del Piero
The record-holder of the most club appearances (705), Del Piero, also holds the record of the most club goals (290). Records tumble when his name arrives with the Bianconeri. A fighter who led Juventus back into Serie A after the Calciopoli scandal. He was the top scorer in the Serie B that season with 20 goals. His tally clearly tells us why “Pinturicchio” is probably the most loved player in Juventus’ history. No words can describe him better—Captain. Leader. Legend.
-Scirea as the centre back and sweeper to all the holes left by Cabrini and Gentile in going forward.
– When Cabrini goes towards the left flank ,Scirea moves left ,Gentile covers him and Charles falls back as he has sound knowledge of defensive duties.
-Nedved and Zidane work in tandom just like Goetze/Kagawa and later Goetze/Reus did at Dortmund, providing a central vertical attacking force unit.
-Meanwhile Nedved to work through the gears with support of Cabrini to provide crosses to the deadly duo of Baggio and Del Piero.
-Charles going in centre and working as a striker as soon as he gets shooting possibilities;f ine striker of the ball, along with a tremendous burst of pace which can cut off oppositions flank service.
-Tardelli is the key, with small passes from the defenders mainly by Scirea, he can distribute it to Zidane or Platini who can round up the decisive passes.
-Platini as a midfielder has a knack of scoring goals so will look to find empty squares available.
-Baggio to play second fiddle because of better decision making than Del Piero in order to go past more players, also to distract and stick other defenders in order to provide clear grounds for Del Piero.