This past week saw Juventus notch up two victories, the Italian giants extending their winning run to nine consecutive games and climbing into second place in the Serie A table. They have done so thanks to some confident coaching from Massimiliano Allegri, allied with impressive contributions from a number of players.
Paulo Dybala is arguably foremost among them—the Argentinian striker weighing in with 11 goals and five assists in all competitions—but he has not been alone in dragging the team forward. The impact of fellow summer signing Sami Khedira may not garner the same attention, but he has been no less vital than the former Palermo man.
According to the club’s official website, the 28-year-old signed a four-year deal with the Bianconeri following the expiration of his contract with Real Madrid. Making 12 appearances to date, he has since settled quickly into life on the peninsula, and the team has notably recorded 10 wins and two draws in those outings.
12 - Juventus are unbeaten in their 12 games (all comps) with Sami Khedira on the pitch: 10 wins, 2 draws. Basic. https://t.co/dAN7Ku7oaA2016-1-12 10:14:17
Khedira has battled with some niggling injuries during his time in Turin, but it is no coincidence that his return to full fitness coincided with the upturn in results. After the winter break, the Germany international gave an interview to Juve’s official website, stressing the need to maintain their positive run.
“The most important thing now is that the team keeps pushing on to win more matches,” Khedira said. “As we have seen in recent games in the league, we are all playing with more confidence, we’re set up better tactically, we score more goals and concede less.”
The man himself has played his role in that resurgence, bringing a wealth of experience to what is now a young side that lost a number of leaders before the 2015/16 campaign got under way, weighing in with two goals and two assists thus far.
Serie A News @TransfersCalcio
Khedira give Juventus a 2-0 lead over Sampdoria https://t.co/szCJVOw9V22016-1-10 21:11:13
This past weekend saw his most recent strike, Khedira finishing a smart team move by prodding the ball beyond Sampdoria goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano, capping what was an impressive individual display in the process.
As the graphic in the tweet below indicates, he scored with one of only two shot attempts and connected with 25 of his 32 passes (78.1 percent), while making one interception, completing one clearance and committing two fouls.
Adam Digby @Adz77
Sami Khedira (#SampJuve 10/1/16) 1 goal, 25/32 passes (78.1%), 1 interception, 1 clearance, 2 fouls (via @StatsZone) https://t.co/9T8ZrF4I5T2016-1-11 14:47:21
It was yet another example of the quality and consistency that helped Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid secure the club’s historic 10th European Cup and brought Germany World Cup glory after a 24-year wait.
A key figure in those triumphs, Khedira went on to say in that aforementioned interview with the Juventus website that he believes that the Bianconeri are now perfectly positioned to lift more silverware before the end of the campaign:
In previous seasons, I’ve only ever followed Serie A on TV, but this year it certainly strikes me as a very competitive division with other strong teams like Inter, Napoli and Fiorentina all doing well.
That said, I am convinced that, if we continue to play the way we have done over the last seven league games, then we can overtake them to finish in first place.
Furthermore, the Stuttgart native added that beating Champions League opponents Bayern Munich in the next round of Europe’s elite competition “is obviously a very, very difficult challenge, but not impossible.”
Insisting that his side can progress if at their best, there is little doubt that Italian football’s grand Old Lady will need her newest leader to be on top of his game if she is to overcome Pep Guardiola’s men.
His first six months at the club have shown that Sami Khedira is more than capable of doing just that, delivering when it matters most and establishing himself as the driving force behind this new-look Juventus.