It’s the age-old conundrum – do systems or players win football matches? Just ask Juventus.
The Bianconeri have spent the past three years assembling one of the game’s most cohesive units. Such was the force of their dressing room that it probably didn’t matter which style of play they adopted, as the spirit of Antonio Conte’s troops shone through the Serie A abyss.
However, no amount of chemistry or individual brilliance could save the Turin giants in Europe. Tactically, their 3-5-2 formation has been exposed by attacking outfits not necessarily stronger than the Old Lady. Therefore, it all pointed to a systematic flaw within the side’s make-up.
As doubts lingered over Juve’s ability to compete with the very top sides, Conte stood down with Massimiliano Allegri being appointed as his replacement. The former Milan boss sensibly chose to maintain the status-quo, until defeats in the Champions League combined with an injury crisis forced his hand.
Through all the pain, though, Carlos Tevez has best personified the Old Lady’s siege mentality. Never one to shirk responsibility, his committed displays, tenacious approach and explosive instinct have earned him comparisons with Alessandro Del Piero. It’s easy to see why.
Tevez hadn’t scored in his last four Serie A appearances, but on Sunday, he was in full throttle once more. A constant menace throughout the encounter, his knockdown for Fernando Llorente’s opening goal on the 23rd minute was a sign of what was to come.
Not long after, the former Manchester City ace burst through the middle of the final third and played a key pass to Stephan Lichtsteiner, who ultimately set up the Spaniard for his second of the match and Juve’s third of the afternoon.
And just as it couldn’t get any better for Juve, Tevez emerged with the defining moment in the match, and arguably the goal of the season. Picking the ball up from deep, he left several Parma jerseys in their wake, before applying a low finish beyond a mesmerised Antonio Mirante.
The attacker rounded off his afternoon, which earned him a credible 40 points with Eurofantasyleague.com, with a second in typically instinctive fashion, waiting at the right place at the right time to pounce on Paul Pogba’s saved effort and regain his rightful place atop the Capocannoniere rankings alongside Jose Callejon.
It caps off a sensational week for Tevez, who was also instrumental in Juve’s must-win clash with Olympiacos in the Champions League. Furthermore, the ex-Corinthians star has returned to the Argentina squad with Tata Martino, after a three-year exile under Alejandro Sabella.
Tevez’s sudden return to goalscoring form at the same time as his club’s must come as no surprise. In fact, an astonishing 47 per cent of Juventus’ attacks came as a result of his direct play in and around the left channel. On the basis of his workrate alone, the attacker is fully deserving of a free role.
Now able to accompany their rock-solid core with an improved style of play, Juve are on the path to perhaps threatening the hegemony in European football, providing they can make significant progress in the Champions League this term, but not without the 30-year-old.
Coming in at a grossly-deflated €12 million, there aren’t many players in world football who can claim to share or emulate his unique concoction of hard running and natural flair. Simply put, he is Juve’s new symbol in their quest to become the complete package.
Referring back to the question of systems and players, the Bianconeri now have an answer - Tevez.
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