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Friday February 6 2015
The case for Morata

Massimiliano Allegri is reportedly undecided on which Spaniard to start in attack against Milan. Luca Cetta thinks it should be Alvaro Morata.

There are selection decisions ahead for Massimiliano Allegri as Juventus prepare to face Milan. The right-back position is a cause for concern given Stephan Lichtsteiner’s suspension and an injury to Martin Caceres. Claudio Marchisio is back from a one-match stop, while Arturo Vidal and Patrice Evra are battling fitness concerns.

And there’s another selection worth considering - the identity of Carlos Tevez’s partner in attack. Italy’s three main sporting newspapers suggest Fernando Llorente is favoured to play from the opening whistle. TuttoJuve.com reported earlier in the week though that the tactician is undecided between Llorente and Alvaro Morata. The senior member of Juve’s Spanish force has been handed more starts this term, but it’s debatable whether his current form warrants inclusion.

El Rey Leon is goalless in 2015 and his performance last Sunday against Udinese highlighted recent concerns. It would rank as one of Llorente’s more listless showings in a Bianconero shirt. He not only failed to trouble Orestis Karnezis, but according to WhoScored.com had just 30 touches in 67 minutes and a team-low 62.5 per cent pass completion rate. It’s a trend which has persisted throughout the opening weeks of 2015.

The same website notes his four Serie A goals have come from 1195 minutes. It’s a regression for Llorente, who at this stage last term had registered nine League strikes. His numbers in other areas such as shots per game and pass success rate have also dropped. It’s clear that where last season Antonio Conte’s utilisation of Llorente and Tevez in close proximity yielded results for both, Allegri’s allowance of Tevez to play with greater freedom often leaves Llorente isolated. Tevez continues to excel, Llorente struggles to get involved.

“Conte played with a formation that he liked, with two strikers close to each other,” Tevez described this week. “I like the current formation best because I can do what I feel like doing in the pitch, I have greater freedom.”

Waiting in the wings is Morata. The 22-year-old has started just seven matches in all competitions and while like Llorente scoring four Serie A goals, he’s done so from nearly half the time – 602 minutes. Morata has been amongst the goals in recent Coppa Italia clashes versus Verona and Parma, while his Udine cameo emphasised the energy and directness he offers from the bench, adding a different dimension to the Bianconeri attack.

The ex-Real Madrid striker has the ability to either come deep and bring others into play or get behind defenders, something Llorente doesn’t. Where the 2010 World Cup winner is usually deployed with his back to goal, Morata is most dangerous when running at defenders. He draws more fouls than his compatriot, which can lead to set-piece opportunities.

What Morata hasn’t done is turn the energetic cameo into a complete 90-minute showing. “He needs to be a little less frenetic and also realise that he has to be in a game for over 90 minutes,” Allegri opined recently. Frustratingly for Morata when he does enough to earn a starting role he has not been able to keep the spot – consecutive starts against Verona and Chievo his only ones in Serie A. Morata is of the opinion both Spaniards can feature, but with Tevez sparkling Allegri is not about to bench him.

It would be tempting for the Coach to unleash the aerial prowess of Llorente against a Rossoneri defence which has struggled to defend high crosses and set-pieces. Yet he is off the pace and not producing what Juventus need from somebody leading the attack. And with Juve’s full-back concerns it’s an avenue which may be problematic on Saturday.

Morata has proven he can do a job as a substitute and now is the time to prove his effectiveness for 90 minutes. Just twice he has netted – against Empoli and Verona in the Coppa – as a starter, but Morata has the tools to torment a side without a clean sheet in seven matches since the winter break.

And with their European tie against Borussia Dortmund rapidly approaching, the Old Lady will want to take some of the scoring burden away from Tevez. As they look for the right combination in attack, it’s time for Morata to show what he can do.

Have your say...
@Steven

My point is that there really should be no question in Allegri's mind over something like this. When he's played Morata, he's delivered. Even in the little minutes given to Coman, the fans have been happy. They've seen the desire. They've seen what Juve can do with talented youth (Pogba). On top of this you have a misfiring Llorente who has not earned a starting spot in my book with his performances. So what's the issue? Should be none and Allegri should not be confused.
on the 9th February, 2015 at 9:36pm
Morata is 22 and Coman is 18. That's the problem. Allegri likes them both but doesn't rely on them because of their inexperience. Both will be good players down the road. How can you criticize Allegri about not playing youth, how many previous coaches have played 18 year-old strikers? Matri gives us more than Llorente but either way I feel like we need to sign a striker this offseason. Tevez leaves in 2016, Morata can be bought back then as well I believe and Llorente will be 32.
on the 8th February, 2015 at 2:21am
Llorente is useless and I'm beginning to think Allegri is useless also. Invest in youth. Juve need to continue playing Morata just like they did with Pogba and look where Pog is today. We should also be seeing more minutes from Coman. It's Allegri who's starting to worry me. If you don't have the balls and faith in your players then Juve is not for you. Go coach some safe Seria A team that gets nowhere year after year. Validate the investment that clubs make in players and also yourself.
on the 6th February, 2015 at 6:41pm
I totally agree with Mustafaa.
Management has been deceiving the fan with signing from Madrid where they could've avoided such stupid strategies by bringing they're own players and saving money for super strikers.
on the 6th February, 2015 at 6:25pm
Morata has everything that is needed to do well for this Juve, problem is Allegri doesn't trust him enough and with Tevez floating around Morata is unable to take advantage of his skills. May it be due to lack of experience or the fact that this style of football doesn't suit him. Llorente is useless in this formation...
on the 6th February, 2015 at 2:19pm
I totally agree, and imo starting llorente is an absolute no no. He is offering as close to nothing as possible this season. Llorente might be better in the air but we don't exactly have wingers or full backs that deliver terrific crosses and it's not really our style of play under allegri anyway.we play more direct and that is Morata's bread and butter not llorentes.At this point I'd rather see coman start over llorente.
on the 6th February, 2015 at 1:16pm
Which Spaniard? they both suck. If the stupid management saved those 20m of Morata this year, and assumably will have 20m available next summer, they would have tempted strikers like Cavani or Falcao, or Higuain by that 40m. Why spending 20m for a guy who is considered "potential" while they could've played Giovinco, or brought back Zaza, or Berardi, or Gabbiadini, or even Immobile. I'd like to see Matri playing instead of those. At least he's not overrated.
on the 6th February, 2015 at 12:39pm
None! Ideally Matri should start. Llorente is a decent player but certainly not Juventus material. He is in fact Juve's weakest link. Morata is young and work in progress. I like his direct running, but he often does seem too frantic and is not composed enough to present a constant danger to the opposition's goal. I've always liked Matri and he knows most of the team and the coach well. Besides he has a point to prove and has been good with Genoa this season.
on the 6th February, 2015 at 12:29pm

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