January Transfer Window: Why Adding a Star Striker Would Make Juve Europe's Best
Yes dear reader, you read that right: if Juventus were to add a star striker to their team during the January transfer window, they could make a genuine claim for being the best team in Europe.
I realise that's a very bold statement, but it might not be as bold as you think. Anyone that watched their battle with AC Milan in the Coppa d'Italia earlier this week, and actually paid attention to what was going on could see for themselves.
Juventus needed a goal in extra time from Mirko Vucinic to defeat their rivals in a game that was very balanced and didn't feature a boatload of chances. It is worth mentioning that the Bianconeri achieved this feat with their second-string midfield.
That's right: with the exception of Arturo Vidal, Juve didn't field a single regular starter in midfield and still found ways to thoroughly dominate the Rossoneri for large stretches of the game. The first half in particular saw the Bianconeri create a handful of good chances, and put a lot of pressure on the defensive duo of Philippe Mexes and Francesco Acerbi.
Granted, Milan are not having their best season, but they still qualified for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League, and feature a midfield with quite a few talented players like Riccardo Montolivo and Kevin-Prince Boateng.
And yet for all of these chances, Juventus still needed a late strike from Vucinic to put away the Rossoneri. You can thank the attacking duo of Sebastian Giovinco and Alessandro Matri for that.
Giovinco played a good game and netted Juve's first goal on a beautifully taken free kick that erased Stephan El Shaarawy's early strike. He was active and generally a nuisance for the Milan defense, but he also showed his lack of nose for goals when he failed to beat Milan stopper Marco Amelia one-on-one.
Matri on the other hand had a dismal game and reinforced the sentiment that a lot of the fans of the team already had: Juve need a quality striker.
But quality won't do. If the Bianconeri were to find a way to add an absolute star, they could be a force in Europe on par with teams like Bayern Munich and Barcelona.
Think Edinson Cavani. Radamel Falcao. Neymar. All three are world-class forwards playing for good, but not great teams.
Forget about Fernando Llorente or Stevan Jovetic for a second. Both would make great additions to the current roster, but I'm talking about the big stars here. The kind of players you buy for your team in FIFA.
Antonio Conte's 3-5-2 is a great system for this Juventus team in a number of ways, but perhaps its most underrated facet is that it disguises Juve's lack of a true goal scorer. It allows players like Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal to put themselves in a position where they can contribute to the one thing Juve's strikers don't do well: scoring goals.
A quality striker probably wouldn't change much, but imagine what a world class goal scorer could do. Someone like Cavani or Falcao would not only receive a ridiculous amount of chances courtesy of Juve's world-class midfield, but they'd also receive a ton of room to work with as defenses have to account for the goalscoring potential of the guys lining up behind the strikers.
Should a defense choose to commit to taking the strikers out of the game, this would leave Juve's midfielders with oceans of space to take advantage of, and there are few teams who boast more goalscoring potential in midfield than Juventus.
Gianluigi Buffon is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and while he might be getting up there in years, he can still defend his cage like few others. The Bianconeri boast a defense that is easily top three in Europe, and a midfield unit that can mix it up with the best of them.
Organisation and dedication are key for this team. They defend their own half of the field exceptionally well, and allow the opposition very little room to operate in once they start getting close to the box. In possession, they display great patience and are able to find the perfect balance between solid play on the wing and the passing ability of Andrea Pirlo and Sebastian Giovinco.
The latter could be one of Europe's most feared facilitators if paired with the right striker. His running and dribbling are a nightmare for any defense, and he's showcased his ability to create space for other players on numerous occasions. On top of that, he has an excellent cross in his feet.
But he's not a goalscorer. And neither are Alessandro Matri and Mirko Vucinic. Fabio Quagliarella knows how to put the ball in the back of the net, but he's not a world class forward.
Combining Giovinco with someone like Cavani or Falcao would instantly transform Juve's front line. The team's biggest weakness would arguably turn into their biggest strength. With an incredible back line and a midfield that can stand toe-to-toe with pretty much anyone, a world class offensive unit would push this team over the top.
Would this mean instant European success and a new entry in a long line of Bianconeri dynasties? Obviously, in football there's no such thing as certainty. Today's game already has a handful of teams that look like they can't be beaten when they're firing on all cylinders.
But Juventus would definitely be one of them.
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