In a season where Juventus have been hailed as the most prolific team in the league, they’ve been found wanting, ironically, in the striking department. The forwards owe a lot to the midfielders who have bailed them out on numerous occasions this campaign with an abundant supply of goals. Claudio Marchisio, Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal in particular, have all chipped in with their fair share of contributions for the Bianconeri’s cause.
The strikers have garnered criticism and each and every passing game serves up more evidence for the need of a bomber to complete what is the final piece of a very impressive jigsaw. Mirko Vucinic, particularly, has been scrutinized by critics who without the slightest hesitation have questioned his continuous selection by manager Antonio Conte.
Mario Balotelli, Antonio Cassano and Mirko Vucinic are perfect examples of the term ‘enigmatic’. The first two are infamous for their temperamental nature and have their hot heads and anger which skies up at the slightest available provocation to blame for their ability to go AWOL during games. Mirko Vucinic? Well, he comes across as a lethargic customer, a player who simply offers the feeling that he doesn’t want to do all the running that the rigors of Antonio Conte’s system demands.
Yet for a player whose only two goals in Serie A came up in Rounds 2 and 3, it isn’t hard to see why he is faulted for his lack of scoring ability. The media won’t hold up on firing at a player who dons the number 9 on his back, a number traditionally synonymous with the team’s best striker. For all accounts though, Vucinic is unarguably the most talented attacker Juventus possess. Antonio Conte recognized his caliber last season when he picked out the Montenegrin as the most talented player in his squad. High praise indeed especially when you consider the fact that Pirlo and Buffon too ply their trade for the Bianconeri. But that prompted almost every attack to circulate and flow through Vucinic.
Fact of the matter is that Conte will continue to show unwavering faith in Vucinic despite his barren run of form at the moment and who can question the Juventus great? Vucinic may not be firing on all cylinders right now yet overlooking his contribution to the team is criminal. The game against Palermo last weekend was ‘Mirko Vucinic’ in a nutshell. The Montenegrin missed two sitters that could have cost Juventus the three points but had produced a moment of sheer genius with sublime control initially and then showing awareness with a perfect back-heel straight into the path of the marauding Stephan Lichtsteiner. The Swiss Express would of course go on to score the goal that gave Juventus the victory and deservedly vowed to buy two dinners for the Montenegrin for that brilliant pass that left the Palermo defenders for dead.
With four assists to his name, Vucinic is Juventus’ greatest goal-provider in the league. His involvement in the build-up play is vital; often dropping deep to receive the ball stretches the opposing defence and thus opens up spaces for the midfield runners to ghost into. He was crucial in the construction of Juventus’ goal that sealed their qualification to knock-out stages of the Champions League against Shakhtar Donetsk. Vucinic’s languid style was thought to contradict Conte’s footballing philosophy but those claims were put to bed as the former Roma man’s overall work-rate has visibly improved under Conte.
It comes as no surprise that Juventus’ late blitz coincided with Vucinic’s sudden boost in form last season. The purple patch he went through in the home stretch of the campaign played a big role in securing that historic Scudetto for Juventus. Vucinic may be a bit off color in terms of goal-scoring right now but it’s just a matter of time before the Montenegrin hits top gear again.
As far as big games are concerned, he more often than not rises to the occasion and is decisive. Vucinic may be one of the most frustrating players around but that is only because his talent is undeniable and all the ability is there in those gifted feet of his. He can go from missing a sitter that would make Gervinho look away in shame to scoring a net-rippling scorcher that would impress even the legendary Pavel Nedved. In one moment, Vucinic can pass off as a ferocious lion, ready to mark his territory; while the next moment he can comes across as a kitten afraid to get his fur wet in the water. In short, Vucinic is a flawed genius but a genius nevertheless who Juventus fans should keep the faith in just like their manager does and always will do. And with the imminent or rather hopeful arrival of a top striker, Vucinic’s form could see a burst that might just catalyze Juventus’ surge in Europe and indeed Serie A.