“I play for a team and with this one I always play as if it were my last game,” said current Juventus goal scoring hero and its striker Carlos Tevez. A player who with his terrific spirit recalls to mind previous Bianconeri bandiere like fellow Argentinean Omar Sivori, John Charles, Roberto Bettega and more recently Gianluca Vialli, Fabrizio Ravanelli and David Trezeguet. All Juve icons and all terrific strikers who like The Apache fought to the end for the shirt.
Certainly Tevez is Juve’s man of the moment and following his two goals in midweek against Malmo in the Champions League, he drew level with the one and only Bettega. Following his second goal he has now scored 24 in his first 51 matches. Although it is still two less than another Juve legend Michael Platini, and four less than the incomparable Roberto Baggio, it is still noteworthy.
And although he has only been with Juve one full season his stats stand up well to previous strikers. For instance last season in 34 Serie A games he scored 19, while Bettega scored 17 in 30 league appearances. Of course he would have to go some to beat the magnificent Charles, who just for the record scored 28 in 34 matches. Yet in more modern times Carlito’s records stand up well against Vialli, who scored six in 32 games in his first season while his strike partner Ravanelli had five in 22.
A touch nearer was arguably Juve’s last great striker Trezeguet, who scored 14 in 25 games. All told the Frenchman contributed 123 over 214 league appearances and by the time he was released from the last year of his contract at the start of the 2010-11 season, he had scored 171 goals to become Juve’s all-time top foreign goalscorer. If Tevez can get somewhere near those sort of averages and Sivori’s 131 in 214, he won’t have done too bad.
Perhaps Tevez most resembles the great Sivori, who recorded 22 goals in 32 league games in his first season. Like Sivori, who played for Juve from 1957-65, Tevez can play in several attacking roles and is excellent in each one. He also has a similar head down no nonsense movement that opposition defenders underestimate at their peril along with that absurdly deceptive touch his predecessor had. Plus with eight assists in Serie A last season, he has that ability to see a couple of moves ahead. Factor in his one-track mind when it comes to goals and like Sivori in his day he is the perfect modern striker.
And like Sivori, Tevez can also be tetchy one minute and an inspiring leader the next. Yet so far Juve fans have witnessed none of the shenanigans that wrecked his relationship with his former manager at Manchester City, Roberto Mancini.
Since arriving from City, the 30-year-old has been in absolutely sparkling form and has carried last season’s form into this, with four goals and one assist in four games.
It is not only Juve fans who have been impressed, but also the new Argentina Coach Gerardo Martino, who is prepared to recall Tevez to the national team after his three years in an international wilderness.
His magic goals against Malmo certainly reminded Martino of Carlito’s skills. His alertness to pick up on Kojo Asamoah’s sumptuous back-heel to score the first goal, which broke a five-year personal Champions League hoodoo, was typical of his current form. Then at the death Carlito added another with a sublime free-kick from the edge of the box that curled past and foiled the Malmo ‘keeper. Not that Tevez is getting carried away with the win. “The Champions League mustn’t be an obsession,” he said. “We should take it one game at a time.”
And how! On Saturday came Juve’s toughest fixture yet, playing Milan at San Siro. However, after a tough game Tevez came to the rescue and struck with less than 20 minutes to go after snapping onto a great pass from Paul Pogba to coolly beat Christian Abbiati for the winning goal.And for a player taking on a deeper role this season, which allows him to run at defenders, he is still scoring like the old Tevez. “I like this position. There weren’t many opportunities today but I managed to score eventually and I am happy,” he grinned after the match,proving that he does play every game as if it is his last one.