Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughWhy Juventus’s lack of a world-class striker will cost them on two fronts - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Why Juventus’s lack of a world-class striker will cost them on two fronts - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Why Juventus’s lack of a world-class striker will cost them on two fronts

Last season, Juventus not only won the Scudetto for the first time in 8 years, but also managed to do so undefeated, the first time since Milan in 1992 and notably, the first team to do so in the new 38-game per season format. Yet, despite their historic success, fans and neutrals alike observed that the team’s one glaring flaw was the lack of a top-notch striker, something easily seen by the fact that despite winning their 28th Scudetto, none of the club’s hitmen were among the top 10 in terms of goal output.

 In fact, they weren’t even in the top 15, as their top scorer, Alessandro Matri, managed only 10 goals, less than half of top scorers Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Diego Milito, EdinsonCavani, and Antonio Di Natale. Certainly, anyone can see that this is a problem for a team that planned to make their first appearance in the CL since the 2009-2010season when they were eliminated in the group stages. Most surprisingly, however, was that Matri only managed 1 more goal in Serie A than their second-highest scorer, not a striker, but rather midfielder Claudio Marchisio.

Naturally, the club’s management seemed to recognize this issue and the club were linked to a host of names, some realistic, others far-fetched—not surprising as the summer transfer window is often referred to as the “silly season”—but after the dust had settled and the transfer window had shut, the only new addition to Juve’s frontline was an arrival from Arsenal. No, not the Gunners’ outgoing captain Robin Van Persie whom some fans had, however unrealistically, dreamed of donning the white-and-black jersey, but rather his teammate Nicklas Bendtner, who, on his good day can be a decent striker, was certainly not the man fans were looking for to help them become a force in Europe this season.

Although they started the season off fairly brightly, notching victories against, they were subsequently held to a long series of draws and the team’s glaring flaw soon became apparent in the 11th round of action and came back to haunt them in this season’s first edition of the derby della Italia in their home stadium.

On 3 November, la vecchia Signora’s hopes of achieving their 50th straight game undefeated were dashed by a 3-1 capitulation to Inter Milan after Arturo Vidal had (perhaps controversially) put them ahead in the 1st minute of play. In the second half, the Nerazzurri rallied back through 2 goals by Argentinian striker Diego Milito and a third by his compatriot Rodrigo Palacio to hand the Bianconeri their first league defeat since May 2011. The home side, naturally, had numerous chances to claw their way back into the game, but as has been the case throughout their past season, their misfiring forwards failed to convert the numerous chances that came their way and as a result, saw their previously-established 4-point lead at the top of the Serie A summit cut to just a measly 1.

Not surprisingly, their issues continue in the Champion’s League, in which they managed to only earn 3 points from their first 3 matches. Granted, their coming back from a 2-0 deficit against reigning title-holders Chelsea was impressive, but draws to Shakhtar, and most notably, Danish minnows Nordsjællandwere another issue all together. In the clash with the Ukranian champions, the team’s only goal was scored by defender Bonucci who equalized 2 minutes after their opponents had gone ahead in the 23rd minute; yet, despite having more attempts on goal,were forced to settle for yet another draw.

Still, the Ukrainians weren’t going to be pushovers, but in all honesty, their performance against the Danes was just simply appalling—were it not for substitute Vučinić’s last-minute goal, they would have been subject to a humiliating defeat to a club whose European football outings could be counted on one hand. Although they had nearly 4 times as many efforts on goal (30 vs. 8) and 3 times as many on target (15 vs. 5), the club’s seemingly misfiring forwards—in particularly Matri—could not convert the numerous chances that came their way, quite similar to the situation they often faced last season in Serie A.

In fact, up until this past week, Inter’s Milito had scored 27 goals this calendar year, only 1 less than the combined efforts of all of Juve’s strikers. Yes, former Udinese man Fabio Quagriella netted a hattrick in the Bianconeri’s 6-1 thrashing of Serie A newcomers Pescara this past Saturday, but in all honesty, from the get-go, this was a sure-fire 3 points for the Turin-based club in a match that was well over by the end of the 1st half.

The same can certainly be said of their 4-0 victory overNordsjælland, a match in which had they lost to a club that was only founded 21 years ago, they would certainly have become among the laughing stocks in European football. Still, only 2 of the team’s goals came from strikers—the others were scored by midfielders Marchisio and Vidal—leading one to wonder what the score would’ve been had the Turin-based club had better quality attackers at their disposal.

So as they head into two crucial clashes with the Blues and Shaktar, matches that the results would make or break their CL campaign, as well as approach the half-way mark in Serie A, one can perhaps hope that either the club’s profligate forwards start firing on all cylinders, or Juve’s management will be bringing in some much needed bite to their attack during the winter transfer window.

Michelle Bonsu