Five days ago, the look on Sebastian Giovinco's face said it all.
Juventus had just gone down 2-1 in an eventual 3-1 loss, and because of Alberto Zaccheroni's strange final substitution, Giovinco had no chance to help the team he has grown up with come from behind.
Like so many times before, there was nothing he could do but sit on the bench and wonder what could have been.
Giovinco being left on the bench to rot is one of the worst things over the course of one of Juventus' worst seasons the club has ever seen. So many things have gone wrong for Juve this year, but to see the crown jewel of the youth sector not get a quality chance to prove himself was something that could have been easily allowed to happen.
When Giovinco appeared out of the dugout ready to replace Diego, the sights of last Thursday night were replaced by the face of a player who offers so much hope. It was something nobody expected, but something that everybody welcomed with open arms.
That's what makes his appearance over the weekend against Atalanta that much sweeter. He answered the challenge and then some, even though he was called upon at a time when he least expected it.
Juve were far from convincing in their 2-1 win over Atalanta, but don't blame it on Giovinco. Despite the obvious rust because he hadn't played any kind of significant minutes in three months, Giovinco showed what kind of player he is. He used his speed and skill to take on Atalanta defenders time and time again—something the Juve squad has been lacking all season.
Now it's just a matter of Zaccheroni actually putting Giovinco to good use.
If he really is going to be a part of the team's future—which his agent is seriously questioning in the wake of the Napoli loss—it's time to prove it. Contract extensions are nice, but if a player like Giovinco is going to rot on the bench, it doesn't mean anything.
With Juve struggling as much as they are this year, you would think a young player who is an obvious spark would be inserted to try to get things going in the right direction once again. That hasn't happened. The last time he has been on the field when the opening whistle sounded was, ironically, Juve's opponent this weekend, Udinese.
There's absolutely no risk in playing Giovinco at this point in the season. Juve might be only three points out of the all-important fourth place spot, but they're far from making a case that they're going to be able to lock it down.
That's why a player like Giovinco needs to see the field this weekend, and in every remaining game this season—even more so with the season seemingly over.
It doesn't matter what formation Zaccheroni is going to use, and it doesn't matter who is available to play—Giovinco needs to be in the starting lineup. With the season basically over because of the numerous problems this team has had, there's no reason why Giovinco shouldn't be in there.
The qualities he brings to the table are something that few players in the squad can offer. His zooming runs down the left flank were clearly some of the best chances Juve had during the second half against Atalanta. On a team that desperately needs speed to be a part of its regular lineup, Giovinco is a welcome addition no matter what kind of tactics are going to be used the rest of the season.
It's time to let the Atomic Ant loose. There's nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
The kid has been through so much these past two years that a little confidence will go a long, long way.
He wants to fight for the jersey. Let him do it.
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