Juventus Striker Analysis

7 Mar

When asked of areas of weakness in the blossoming Conte Juve, the general consensus amongst juventini the world over points towards our attacking department. The defence is world class. Our wing backs are quality, the midfield is phenomenal, but in the final third…such superlatives are regularly absent. Whilst we all have our opinions on performance levels and its clear that statistics alone can rarely be used as sole indicators of value, in the case of strikers, whose prime work is focused on scoring and creating goals, the figures can prove useful. Its a lot easier to gain an accurate idea of how well a striker is performing from his stats, than it is with a midfielder, or defender when passing ranges, time on the ball, urgency of the challenge and many other factors come into play. So, without further ado, lets peek at what the season has told us so far in terms of our strikers getting the ball in the net.
(I have stuck with Serie A and Champions league performances, since the coppa italia is the only tournament in which we have not once put out our strongest team…I have also crunched the average for assists and goals combined)

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8 goals and 5 assists from 1803 minutes in Serie A and Champions league – scores a goal/assists a goal every 138 minutes. (1 goal per 225.4mins)

9 goals and 7 assists from 1936 minutes in Serie A and Champions league – scores a goal/assists a goal every 121 minutes.(1 goal per 215mins)

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7 goals and 2 assists from 1012 minutes in Serie A and Champions league – scores a goal/assists a goal every 112.4 minutes. (1 goal per 144.6mins)

10 goals and 2 assists from 949 minutes in Serie A and Champions league – scores a goal/assists a goal every 79.1 minutes. (1 goal per 94.9mins)

My expectations before making these calculations were that Mirko would come out the worst, as in he would prove our least efficient striker on paper. There is also the consideration of his duties on the field, for Conte’s strikers are tasked with aiding defensively, which is always going to eat away at their opportunities to score and create goals. He has appeared, without the stats to be the weakest link of our major quartet in the offensive ranks. And the stats confirm this…For all his wonderful moments, there are many more moments of irritation. For all his smart runs, there are plenty more jogs and shimmys into nowhere. Never sure which Mirko is going to turn up, I would happily see him sold in the Summer, to make way for a player with either more consistent quality or greater potential and determination to succeed.

La formica atomica has been more efficient in the final third than Mirko. That much has been clear on the field, and the little man should be commended, not lambasted, for to be bettering a more established striker, in his first season in Conte’s Juve is solid progress. He can still get better, and does seem to find himself in goalscoring positions at least once or twice in every game he plays. The difference between him and Mirko, given they are both more naturally SS type players is that his work rate and pace are already superior and he has potential to improve his shooting. Mirko is too long in the tooth to change now. Its been a big enough ask to get him moving around more, approaching somewhere near the minimum levels of effort demanded of every player in the squad.

Now as our only prima punta (its of little use to anyone including Bendtner in this analysis), it is to be expected that Matri would be our most efficient at scoring goals. Also getting in on the act of assisting since he is most active in the 18 yard box and as often looking to get on the end of things as to be the reference point in attack for the marauding midfielders and wingbacks to play off. His form at the start of the season was not great, leading on from a worrying period towards the end of the previous term. However, with the new year arriving, and team form as a whole dipping, Matri regained some confidence, and has since gone a steady run of improvement all round. The 2013 Matri is valuable to our cause and proves the importance of having a player in the team who can not only shoot clinically in the 6 yard box but also, of huge value to the team, make intelligent runs across and behind opposing defences. His lay-offs and positioning have jumped up a level since the dark days of late 2012 and I hope he can maintain his fine form.

Fabio Quagliarella is by far the most efficient striker this season. And yet he has played the least amount of time of the four under the spotlight. His achievements are all the more remarkable considering the lack of playing time, and in turn the lack of opportunity to gain match sharpness and momentum. There is also the small matter of his horrid injury sustained in January of 2011 which kept him out of action for a large part of that year. He featured a fair amount in the last campaign, but not as a starter (9 starts/14 sub apps) and it was hoped that this season, after a string pre-season he would return to the high levels shown before his injury.

It seems that he is returning to those high levels, but his relationship with the management is a more powerful consideration than his value to the team on the field. Ever since those angry words disguised through his jacket, when subbed for Giovinco by Alessio, has our most potent striker been punished???

Now and then I feel a wave of unease wash over me. A wave which hints at a personality cult. For our commander in chief has at times, shown flashes of something a few shades away from what we know as lo stile juve. 

The Elia case seemed reasonable, although more information regarding his lack of suitability would have been welcome. It wasn’t small change we paid for the lad and he had shown flashes of brilliance in his pre-juve career. However, his attitude upon signing seemed…at best youthful and several reports suggested his professionalism was suspect. Ziegler however was a different case entirely. His reputation was one of a solid, hard working LB, which was exactly what we needed. Conte didn’t even give the swiss international one competitive game to prove his worth. He barely attended a training session before his bags were packed, perhaps by Conte himself, and he was shipped off, and that was his Juve career over, before it had even begun. What the hell happened there remains open to debate…

Its understandable that the Mister was wired and volatile after the incredibly unjust ban dished out by the FIGC. Justice has since been done, in a loose, optimistic way, with the same man charged and convicted of ‘failure to report’ recently voted manager of the year by his peers after the amazing team transformation and unbeaten march to the scudetto last year, but nonetheless during and after the suspension, Conte was pushed to the limit. And it showed.

With the embers of unjust trauma still burning fiercely and uncomfortably in mind and heart, it was an unhinged Conte which berated the referee after the Juventus- Genoa game. Its the first time I have seen a Juventus manager behave without dignity or class. I can understand the players behaviour, which still needed censure, but Marotta only made things even worse. He has a lot to learn of lo stile Juve, and Conte also could do with a reminder, for whilst winning is important and expected, its winning with class, with humility, with dignity, which has been the Juve way for as far back as I can remember. 

Is Quagliarella’s card marked??? Cross Conte once and you are finished with Juve??? This could well be the case. Others will point to the useful runs and link-up play that Vucinic apparently brings to the team with enough consistency to warrant his high placing in the pecking order. My own personal inkling is that Fabio Quagliarella is of a stronger ego than Conte wants in the squad. Perhaps the same was sensed in Reto Ziegler. And rather than a case of putting Self before club, which seems to be the common opinion of Elia, the Swiss and Neopolitan may well have both made the mistake of putting Self before Conte.

Personality cult or not, after last season’s herculean recapture of the league title, this term’s magnificent return to the champions league, the situation in the league – even after our traditional dodgy January – still mighty and the consistency and quality of the team during Conte’s absence, I am in no position to criticize, and have many reasons to daily doff my hat to Antonio for he has regained our pride, strengthened majestically our reputation and has our club and team on the fast track to returning to our position as one of the continents elite clubs. And for this, I can only be thankful, enthusiastic about the future and like all Juventini the world over, gleeful to have our former captain as our mister.


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