The Champions League exit suffered by Juventus has been lamented, analysed and dissected at length ever since the loss to Galatasaray ensured the Bianconeri could not qualify from the group stage. In failing to follow up last season’s quarter-final appearance, the Turin club left many disappointed at a perceived lack of progression.
While they reigned supreme in Italy—enjoying a healthy lead at the top of Serie A, which should see them deliver a third straight title—there has been much criticism of their continental failings. Even club legend Marcello Lippi passed judgement, the World Cup winning coach telling La Gazzetta dello Sport that "Juventus' exit is a big failure,” back in December (via Goal.com).
At the heart of the problem was a lack of production in attack, with Fernando Llorente scoring just twice—both against Real Madrid—and Carlos Tevez failing to net at all in the six matches. The latter’s struggle has been repeatedly highlighted since, with the fact he hadn’t scored in Europe since April 7, 2009—when he was still with Manchester United—one of the most frequently quoted statistics on the Internet.
Yet, to judge either striker on those six matches is churlish in the extreme, with Tevez in particular proving just how influential he can be on a weekly basis. With 18 league goals to his name, the Argentinean leads all scorers in Serie A and has been the perfect leading man for La Madama all season.
Quickly putting his tempestuous time at Manchester City behind him, his Juventus career began in the best possible fashion with a superb display in the Italian Super Cup. Facing Coppa Italia winners Lazio, the Bianconeri underlined their domestic dominance with a 4-0 demolition of the Roman side.
At the heart of it was Tevez, pulling the Biancocelsti defence out of shape and eventually netting the final goal, an exclamation point on an excellent display. He continued that form into the league campaign, quickly showcasing the kind of attacking quality Juventus had lacked in previous seasons even as they clinched two Serie A titles.
His impact was underlined this past weekend, absent against third-placed Napoli due to a suspension for accumulating four yellow cards. Without his tireless running and individual ability, the Bianconeri looked toothless against Rafael Benitez’s side, succumbing to only their second defeat this term.
The 30-year-old was thrown straight back into action here against Lyon, and while his name was once again absent from a European scoresheet, his contribution to Juve’s play was clear to see. Denied twice by Portuguese goalkeeper Anthony Lopes, his off-the-ball running added an extra dimension to the visitor’s attacking forays.
He has being doing that all season, adding six assists to his impressive goal tally as he averages 1.9 key passes and completes 1.6 dribbles per game, according to stats site WhoScored.com. The same website shows that only Andrea Pirlo (45) and Stephan Lichtsteiner (19) have completed more crosses than Tevez’s total of 18.
He has also continued the impressive work rate he displayed in England, adding 1.1 tackles and 0.2 interceptions per game as he hassles opposing defenders into mistakes which often lead to chances for his new side.
That five-year goal drought hangs over him, but the player is certainly not fazed by it, telling UEFA.com that he is not concerned by his lack of European goals.
"I'm calm because sooner or later the goals will come, but it's not an obsession for me," he told them this week, and his team-mates seem to hold the same opinion.
"It's like the ball never wants to go in for him in Europe," fellow striker Daniel Osvaldo told the same website, adding, "However, Carlos is a fantastic player and it's impossible not to feel comfortable playing alongside him."
Looking at how his debut campaign at Juve has unfolded, it has surpassed even his own expectations, telling La Stampa last week that he did not expect to be so incisive. “In truth, I did not think so,” he told the Turin-based newspaper (via Football Italia), “it is a very difficult championship.”
He may remain goal-shy away from Serie A, but Tevez has quickly begun to repay his £10 million transfer fee.
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