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Friday October 4 2013
Are Juventus missing a midfielder?

No matter how good the Juventus midfield presently is, the Italian champions may still be a man light in that department. Antonio Labbate writes.

Is this Juventus squad one central midfielder short? It’s not an often heard question when you consider the Old Lady have Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal, Claudio Marchisio and Paul Pogba in their ranks. Especially when you ponder that, in the opinion of some, such a quartet make up the best midfield in the world game.

Whether that statement is accurate or hyperbole matters not, what is unquestionable is that boss Antonio Conte has four quality players for three roles who he can interchange during a season that could potentially still be in full swing by the first signs of spring. But lose one of those for a period of time – longer than Marchisio’s recent spell on the sidelines – in a particularly congested part of the campaign and Conte may well have to start getting inventive.

As it stands, the only other recognised central midfielder in the squad is Simone Padoin. And with all due respect to the former Atalanta player, he’s not Scudetto or Champions League material. The 29-year-old, who is also used on the flank, was catapulted up the reserve list during the summer after the decision to release Emanuele Giaccherini and Luca Marrone.

That is not a criticism of Juventus. Letting go of Giaccherini on a permanent basis and Marrone on a co-ownership was the right thing to do. Failing to bring in cover for one of those perhaps wasn’t.

The €7.5m offer Sunderland made for the Italian international had to be snapped up when you remember he was used in just 17 Serie A games and four Champions League ties last term. In the present economical climate, it would have been brave to reject such a sum for a player whose technical qualities remain questionable.

As for Marrone, who was basically used as a reserve for camouflaged sweeper Leonardo Bonucci last season, he was desperate for more regular action. At his age and with his potential, he and Juventus couldn’t afford to see him sit on a bench in anticipation of an injury crisis which may or may not arrive.

After flirting with the idea of a deadline day approach for Cagliari midfielder Radja Nainggolan, which was always likely to prove unsuccessful, the transfer window shut without any notable midfield reinforcement. As a consequence, don’t be surprised if Kwadwo Asamoah is let loose in his previous central midfield creation at some stage over the next eight months.

Having arrived in the summer of 2012 from Udinese, Asamoah was transformed into the left wing-back at the Juventus Stadium. Impressed by his power, discipline and technique, Conte unleashed the Ghanaian international with immediate results. The former Bari tactician needed a player who could succeed in one-on-one situations and Asamoah has proved over the last year that he can do just that.

“Conte has spent a lot of time explaining things to me since I arrived,” Asamoah stated last autumn. “He’s encouraged me to try and go past my man more in training and he wants me to do the same in matches.”

Asamoah’s first five months in Turin were immense, a revelation given his positional switch. His performances did start to tail off due to the fatigue caused by the mid-season Africa Cup of Nations, but the former Torino man remains a guarantee on the left for the Bianconeri. And there lies the biggest issue in potentially having to field Asamoah in middle – replacing him on the flank. That task would be handed to Paolo De Ceglie or Federico Peluso and Juventus would be weaker for it.

“I’m here, it all depends on the Coach,” Asamoah said in July when asked about the possibility of a return to his natural role. “I’m ready to play in whatever position. The Coach uses me where he wants and I do what I know. I have no preference. At this moment in time there are two roles which I can play in and I’ll do whatever is necessary.”

That’s an offer that Conte will be hoping he doesn’t have to take up.

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Have your say...
@ Shonil

100% correct, juve need a quality trequartista, and to slowly phase out Pirlo, on his day he is immense, but when he's having a bad day he is such a liability, he loses the ball in dangerous positions, and he tends to want too much time. A trequartista with vidal and marchisio/poga sitting behind would be perfect. Someone like Mata, or pastore if they could recaputre his form
on the 4th October, 2013 at 11:54am
I watched every single Juve game from the time of Conte and the only thing that seems to lack right know is a proper preparations and tactics. Juve uses the ball on the training much less than other big teams. Conte focuses attack on long balls - just look at where Pogba and Vidal are positioned when Bonucci or Pirlo are on the ball: they go high and wait for it. Conte did a great job creating this team out of nothing, but he still prepares them like a bunch of construction workers.
on the 4th October, 2013 at 11:54am
I don't know what qualifies people, like the author of this blog, to write about Juventus when they cannot even understand something as BASIC as the fact that it's not the centre of the park that's lacking for Juventus, it's the FREAKIN' WINGS!

We desperately need extraordinary quality wingers (think Coentrao, who'd have been a bargain for 18m) and someone on the opposite flank to back up Lichtsteiner (injury, suspensions, bad form). And, naturally, we are SORELY lacking a "fantasista" [Isco].
on the 4th October, 2013 at 11:09am
The only thing I think Juve can improve on is a Plan B, maybe a 4-3-3 but they need the players to do this as conte has said in the past, Ideal player for them and this formation is Cerci from Torino bit of pace. Not sure what Juve fans think at the mo but when your the best like they are any little problem gets highlighted made into something big! as for Centre Mid I think they have enough quality. They look bad at the back surprisingly, Ogbonna has not settled yet I would play Caceres more.
on the 4th October, 2013 at 10:46am
No. Pirlo, Vidal, Pogba, Marchisio, Asamoah, Padoin to cover 3 positions. Isla can also play midfield, apparently he can also play wing back too!

The problem is the wing backs going forward, they cannot beat a man or cross, a big problem when most of our attacks are down the wing. Bonucci is a lazy error prone defender and needs to stop hoofing it to nobody.

Early days but as a plan B Conte should try 4312 with Tevez behind 2 strikers to give more creativity, against teams who park the bus.
on the 4th October, 2013 at 10:39am
Juve are missing a player or two but I disagree with this piece. I think they lack a midfielder that can offer a change in tactics like Pepe. But not Pepe, he is not good enough. A player like Ribery or Robben that can add quality in the final third and beat a man is necessary. And a wing back with blistering pace and good crossing ability is needed in January. Lichtsteiner is good but a bit slow, and Isla is terrible. I only hope Juve are still in the CL if and when reinforcements arrive.
on the 4th October, 2013 at 10:32am
Still missing that world class striker that can make all the difference. Tevez is good but not world class. Also the formation is idiotic.. no defensive cover when Pirlo loses the ball which he does requilary these days.

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totaly wrong....if you think tevez is not world class.....then i have nothing to say to you but watch more football and and not just ronaldo and messi
on the 4th October, 2013 at 10:27am
I couldbn't agree more. All it will take is a suspension and an injury and Padoin will have to be put into the strarting line-up. It jsut shows that Juve have about 14 players who are good or very good, while the rest are pretty average. A new central midfielder has to be signed in January. Just has to!
on the 4th October, 2013 at 10:26am
Juve's problem is their rigidity and no fantasy. You can make three at the back dynamic and unpredictable as Roma showed in 2000/2001 but they played 3-4-1-2 and had Totti, Candela and Cafu. Juve simply do not have the right type of wing-back's. Asamoah is a central midfield player and they would be better off with Cuadrado on the right. The problem is having to accommodate Pirlo so there are no players between the lines. Need a top class trequartista and two behind him such as Pogba and Vidal.
on the 4th October, 2013 at 10:22am
Its still early in the season guys and the new additions need time to gel before their full impact will be seen. Despite his good start i know Tevez can improve and Llorente too. Juventus have struggled against teams who throw everyone behind the ball but if it wasnt for the failure of a referee to see clear penaltys then Juve would have a 100% league record and would have beat Galatasary too. Keep calm and Support Juve! We will have a good season
on the 4th October, 2013 at 10:09am
I don't think it's the striker's problem though. I think somehow they focus too much on set-piece and lack individualism and boldness. I still recall that Pogba's first goal is a ranged shot - It depends on whether you have the gut to try or not. What Juventus really needs perhaps is a simple mind - just dribble and shoot more, ranged or not, and less set piece as they often end in nowhere.

I prefer 4-3-3 because it really shows a beautiful attacking football of Juventus.
on the 4th October, 2013 at 10:03am
the biggest problem right now seems to be simply a lack of hunger, the "grinta" is quite simply missing right now and while it's true that most teams we've played are content to "park the bus" this is no excuse for our lackluster performances.. also a problem right now is the 3-5-2, a formation everyone in the world of football seems to have figured out a counter to and anyone could bet their houses that conte will start with, there's no element of surprise, willingness to employ a plan B..
on the 4th October, 2013 at 9:41am
Still missing that world class striker that can make all the difference. Tevez is good but not world class. Also the formation is idiotic.. no defensive cover when Pirlo loses the ball which he does requilary these days
on the 4th October, 2013 at 9:34am

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