At the start of a 2010/11 season, a popular site predicted that Juventus would struggle to score 50 goals this season. After thirteen games, it looks like that site has to eat its own words. The Old Lady has already notched up twenty three goals, the highest in Serie A. At this point, Juve look good enough to score more than 50 goals. However, if one looks closely at their matches, he/she will uncover a chronic illness – lack of a prolific goal-scorer.
Currently, Juventus has 4 out and out strikers – Alessandro Del Piero, Vincenzo Iaquinta, Amauri and Fabio Quagliarella. Iaquinta and Amauri are proper centre-forwards (prima-punta in Italy) while Quagliarella and Del Piero are supporting strikers (secunda punta).
Out of the 23 goals Juve have scored till now, 13 has been netted by strikers. Quagliarella, on loan from Napoli, tops the scoring charts with 6 goals. Iaquinta has 4 and Del Piero 3, while the Brazilian-Italian bomber has none.
Iaquinta’s purchase at the start of 2007/08 season was understandable. Juve couldn’t afford a world class striker at that time; Iaquinta brought in experience and a decent record in Serie A. Financially, it was a good deal, as his wages were low. Iaquinta’s strengths are his work-rate, aerial ability and his constant heckling of defenders. He is a very industrious player and always gives 100% in games. His biggest weakness his abysmal first touch and poor trapping. Vincenzo flourishes when the ball is played in front of him, but struggles when he has to turn with the ball. While he is capable of scoring some stunning goals from time to time, he misses very easy chances.
Iaquinta, hard working but mediocre
Iaquinta hits patches of good form, but has never delivered consistently for a whole season. In 2009 and 2010, he has became more and more injury prone. Overall, he is a decent striker to have on bench, but isnt good enough to be a regular first choice striker for a big club.
That brings us to Amauri. Juve paid a hefty sum to bring him in from Palermo. In his first six months, Amauri was a beast, feeding on well-aimed crosses; his aerial ability was commendable. His good form ended after those six months. For the rest of his Juve career, the Brazilian turned Italian has been one of most frustrating players in the team. He is technically better than Iaquinta, possessing a good ability to hold up the ball. However, it’s his lack of movement which is most disturbing. He slows up the front line, and is incredibly static for major part of 90 minutes.
He is extremely one-dimensional, and can only operate when good crosses are whipped across. Admittedly, the lack of a good crosser in the 2009/10 season was a major reason behind his poor form last season. This time, it was thought he’d do better in a system which focuses on wing-play. He raised expectations with goals in Europa League. But nothing has changed in Serie A till now; Amauri is yet to score a goal. His heading ability, once his forte, looks to be more and more rusty with every game. Amauri’s strike-rate in his entire career has been around two goals per 10 games – a poor record in any form of football; he is one of the worst transfers the Old Lady has carried out in post-Calciopoli era.
The picture frame is the only thing common between these two
It is really sad to notice that, when in trouble, Juventus have to still look towards Alessandro Del Piero for inspiration. Pinturicchio is 36 years old now, and it would be unfair to expect from him the same kind of magic that he has conjured up in the past. He is still capable of moments of brilliance; take his free-kick goals in Europa League or his goal against Lecce this season, for example.
Speed was never Alex’s biggest strength; with years, he has slowed down considerably, and instead relies on his trickery to outwit opposing defenders. He does lose the ball easily at times. Del Piero’s unfathomable love for the Black and White jersey has propelled him to perform well even in mid-30s, but he cannot be the answer to Juve’s lack of a proper goal-scorer anymore. He has excelled when he played off a proper centre-forward like Trezeguet; the current bunch of centre-forwards don’t offer Alex the same number of options that the French targetman did.
When Fabio Quagliarella was brought from Napoli on loan, not a lot of Juve fans felt excited. He was brought in as a direct replacement of Diego. He was 27 years old, and didn’t have a particularly prolific strike-rate. However, as the months have progressed, Fabio has slowly transformed into the most crucial striker for the Bianconeri. His six goals have come from thirteen shots on goal, which means of every two shots he has taken, one has found the back of the net. He has scored some vital goals, like the opener against Milan.
Quagliarella has something which none of the other strikers have – pace. He is a hard worker, and can drop down to the midfield when the need arises. His biggest asset is his ability to score some screamers – his goal against Slovakia in the world cup was one of very few bright spots for the Azzuris in 2010. Quagliarella is pretty mercurial, and has been prone to a sudden dip in form in the past. In Turin, he has looked in ominous form till now, and Juve fans will be hoping he continues in this way. He has developed a wonderful partnership with Del Piero, and links up well with Aquilani.
In the current scenario, it looks like letting David Trezeguet leave was a mistake. Trezegol himself wanted to leave Juventus, but if he was guaranteed regular first team action, then he could have played for one more season at least. He has quickly adapted to life in Spain, bagging six goals in nine matches; Amauri has scored five goals in his last 37 Serie A games.
Different jersey, same impact
It’s quite clear that Juve need a proper centre-forward badly in the next transfer window. Several strikers have been linked to the club; Edin Dzeko, Pazzini and Antonio Di Natale were 3 players who were linked most strongly. The first two are pretty expensive players, and its unlikely Juve will spend that much in winter window. Dzeko is not possible because of new non-EU stipulations in the peninsula. It’s unlikely that a big name striker will come to Turin in winter. However, a striker who can score 10-12 goals a season is definitely the need of the hour.