With the comfortable 2-0 victory over Napoli, champions Juventus further backed claims that they are streets ahead of their nearest title contenders. The squad at Antonio Conte’s disposal is second to none in Italy with the Scudetto strongly considered as theirs to lose, even prior to the kick-off to this season. And that very view was justified with another excellent display against the Partenopei. Two substitutes in Martin Caceres and Paul Pogba were called upon from the bench to score the goals for the home side.
But the most impressive factor surrounding Juventus’ victory is that of the manager’s luxury with regards to his resources. At a time when it looked they would struggle to break the deadlock against a stubborn Napoli defense, Angelo Alessio looked towards his bench. Martin Caceres, on albeit due to an unfortunate injury to Kwadwo Asamoah, managed to produce the goods with a vital header. The Uruguayan international known for his ability to score past big teams can now add Napoli’s scalp to his list. While midfielder Paul Pogba’s sumptuous volley doubled their lead and put the game well beyond any doubt.
Fast forward a week and it wasn’t the best performance from Juventus but they managed to grind out a victory against mid-table Catania. Sure, the officiating came under the spotlight with two woeful calls from the referees. But at the end of the day, it was the three points which mattered for the Bianconeri and it doesn’t look likely that this Juventus express will run out of steam in the foreseeable future. Arturo Vidal showed signs of recovery from a momentary loss of form with a typically imposing display in midfield capped off with an easy tap-in. Juventus Juventus
More importantly perhaps, what these victories and the Champions League performance against Nordsjaelland highlighted was the severe lack of cutting edge Juventus possess in attack. The strikers have hardly been convincing in front of goal and far less clinical than what one may expect from the champions of Italy. Fingers will point towards Mirko Vucinic and Sebastian Giovinco who were guilty of missing two straightforward chances against Catania, which they should have buried and eased the pressure on the away side but both failed to have their shooting boots on. Against Nordsjaelland, the Bianconeri conjured up 33 shots during the game but have just the solitary equalizing goal to show for all their efforts. Giovinco remains the leading marksman for Juventus with 3 goals, a player who is more adept at setting up goals rather than finishing them. Indeed a natural finisher is the missing element in a team blessed all over the pitch.
For a club that once boasted the likes of fear-inspiring strikers David Trezeguet and Alessandro Del Piero within their ranks, watching the likes of Nicklas Bendtner and Alessandro Matri lead the line is simply depressing. The latter duo do have quality but are from starting material for a Juventus side chasing titles on three fronts. They by no means will guarantee you a 20+ goal a season but certainly are good enough squad players especially when rotation and injuries or suspensions come into play. But for the big games, you need the big players to step up and Juventus simply do not have that terrorizing presence anymore in attack.
The contributions made by the rest of the team to the cause cannot be overlooked as well. As many as 12 different players have managed to write their names on the goal-scorers sheet which is always a bonus when you have misfiring strikers. While this may help Juventus scrape past the finish line in Serie A and make-up for the lack of a bomber, it won’t and hasn’t been the case in Europe. Three stalemates and results going their way makes them still in with a chance of qualification but just how far can they go? Not very. Juventus might just crawl their way out of the group but once the knock-out stages hit them, they will suffer and their inefficiencies in attack will be exposed yet again.
A prolific striker is the need of the hour in Turin. Fernando Llorente, Pablo Osvaldo and Robert Lewandowski have all popped up as potential targets but only the Roma striker isn’t cup-tied. Beppe Marotta needs to be at his wheeling and dealing best and open his cheque-book with the intention of splashing the cash come the winter transfer window in a bid to acquire the final piece of the jigsaw. The elusive piece that might just see Juventus avoid embarrassment in the crème-de-la-crème of Europe and propel them to a respectable stage.