x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Giovinco offers hope for Old Lady

They call Sebastian Giovinco "Atom Ant" and the diminutive midfielder may be Juventus's and indeed Italy's superhero for the next generation.

Sebastian Giovinco, left, celebrates with fellow goalscorer Alessandro Del Piero during the 5-2 win over Bologna in Turin on Saturday night.
Sebastian Giovinco, left, celebrates with fellow goalscorer Alessandro Del Piero during the 5-2 win over Bologna in Turin on Saturday night.

They call Sebastian Giovinco "Atom Ant", after a cartoon character created more than two decades before Giovinco was born, but the 22-year-old must know what people meant when they came up with the nickname. Giovinco is short, scuttles along quickly with the ball at his feet and may be Juventus's and indeed Italy's superhero for the next generation.

Giovinco transformed Juventus from one half to the next on Saturday night against Bologna. Installed on the left of midfield, a post vacated by the injured Pavel Nedved, he galvanised an Old Lady who had fallen 1-0 down by half-time into 4-1 winners. Juve, like many at the top end of Italian football, had been looking for a searchlight for a brighter future after the previous week's disappointments in Europe. Atom Ant provided it.

Bologna had taken a surprise lead thanks to the savvy of their reliable veteran, leading goalscorer Marco di Vaio neatly setting up Massimo Mutarelli one-on-one with Gialiguigi Buffon. The Bologna man coolly won it. After the interval, Juve rallied. Giovino had already struck the crossbar from an improbable angle and distance, direct from a corner, and, from another Giovinco corner Hasan Salihamidzic headed the equaliser.

Giovinco, already inked as man of the match for his menacing delivery into the box and some tricky runs, put Juve into the lead, fed by Vicenzo Iaquinta. Alessandro Del Piero scored goals three and four, his eighth of the Serie A season set up by Salihamidzic's through-ball, his ninth a determined finish after an initial effort had been saved. Juventus's head coach, Claudio Ranieri, was delighted to have an attacking performance to praise, cautioning Giovinco should be judged as his own man, not as a new Nedved, now that the Czech he replaced in Saturday's line up has announced his imminent retirement.

"Giovinco has his own way of playing and I have known for a long time he has a great future," said Ranieri. "We are a club in a re-building phase, and we have some excellent young players." Between those lines could be detected a further arrow at David Trezeguet, the experienced France striker who had complained about being substituted against Chelsea in the Champions League. Trezeguet, left out against Bologna, had been labelled a "brat" by Ranieri.

"I spoke to him frankly and that issue is now closed," said Ranieri. ihawkey@thenational.ae