Reasons Why Juventus Will Struggle to Win the Champions League
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A win against Shakhtar Donetsk in their final Group E clash will see the Old Lady of Italian football through to the last 16.
If they do get through, the big question will be whether they can win the tournament. This article will look at the reasons why a mountain lies ahead for the Italian champions.
Stronger Teams Ahead of Juventus
Messing Around: Messi scores for fun at Barcelona
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As good as the win against Chelsea was, Juventus are likely to struggle when playing the rest of Europe’s big hitters. Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Bayern Munich all qualified for the last 16 with games to spare.
Spanish giants Barcelona are favourites to win the trophy and it’s easy to see why. In Lionel Messi they have arguably the world’s best player. Messi has scored five goals in five games in the Champions League this season, and the more he plays, the more he scores.
Barcelona also have Xavi Hernandez, the pass master of world football. The Spanish midfielder has made 719 of Barcelona’s 4427 passes so far in the competition.
Real Madrid are phenomenal too and have Cristiano Ronaldo in their side. Like Messi, Ronaldo has also notched up five goals in five group games in Europe this season.
Compare those stats to Juventus. Fabio Quagliarella is Juve’s top scorer in the Champions League with three to his name. Mirko Vucinic, his striking partner, has scored just one goal in four appearances.
No Big Name In Attack
You won't score like that! Vucinic struggles to find the net in big games
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One area Juventus struggle in compared to the other sides in the Champions League is the lack of a big name forward up front.
Barcelona have Messi, Real Madrid are inspired by Ronaldo, Manchester United fly with Robin van Persie. All these strikers are used to the big time. They have years of experience playing in the Champions League.
At Juventus, both Quagliarella and Vucinic are relied upon to break down the barriers of opposition defences, but they will likely struggle when push comes to shove in the nail-biting games of the latter stages.
Juventus clearly have a problem up front with 51 attempts off target across their five games to date. These worrying statistics could be a reason why the Italians have only won two group matches this term. They cannot finish off their chances in front of goal compared to the stronger sides.
Over-Reliance on Midfield
Juventus lose to AC Milan in Serie A as Andrea Pirlo struggles against former club
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At the back, Juventus are smartly balanced with Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, all of whom are Italy internationals.
But it is the midfield which has become the driving force behind their steady course over the past two seasons.
Arturo Vidal, Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchiso provide an array of weaponry which has had devastating effects on teams in Europe and in Serie A.
However, there is too much reliance in that department and it shows. Marchisio and Vidal between them have scored just one goal less than all of Juventus’ attacking players combined in the Champions League this season.
When the forwards are not in form, and when the midfield struggles, who will score for Juve?
The loss of Alessandro Del Piero
Down Under: Del Piero enjoying life in Australia's A-League
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It’s times like these when Alessandro Del Piero would have been a galvanising influence inside the dressing room.
Juventus must beat Shakhtar away from home to be guaranteed a place in the round of 16; no easy feat considering the Ukrainian side currently sit top of Group E.
Del Piero’s wealth of experience and presence could have made the difference, and the loss has been underestimated following his departure during the summer transfer window.
Despite all of the shortcomings highlighted, Juventus do have good infrastructure such as having their own stadium.
It may be too early for Antonio Conte’s men to conquer Europe this season, but who’s to say they cannot win it in a few years if they continue building as they are.