Just how do you stop Juventus at the moment? Carlos Tevez would be a good place to start.
When it seemed that the Bianconeri entered a mid-season slump in March, they responded in the only way they knew how, exhibiting the same steel of champions they had for three straight terms under Antonio Conte. However, they have an extra ingredient this time around - Apache.
The Old Lady have won five on the bounce, three of which have been courtesy of Tevez’s impact. Starting with his sensational early strike against Borussia Dortmund, the 31-year-old then popped up with the winner against a stubborn Genoa last week. Empoli would be his next victims.
From the first minute, Tevez was electrifying, on his way to what would be another 15 Eurofantasyleague points. With barely a ball kicked, he tested Luigi Sepe with a dangerous surge towards the Empoli box and unleashed a stinging drive, which the Napoli loanee did well to parry away, before drawing defenders at will and forcing another stop soon after.
His undying commitment to the Juve cause was consequently rewarded near the end of the first half, when he smashed home an indirect free-kick in a penalty area crowded with visiting jerseys. Although not quite Andrea Pirlo-esque, the sheer venom behind the strike was for all to see.
Empoli have been the bane of many a team in Serie A this season thanks to their daring approach and were unfortunate not to have earned a point on the basis of their second-half display, but Tevez was in no mood to throw in the towel as he constantly harried the Tuscans’ defence.
So constant was Tevez that he was still as prominent as ever on the 93rd minute, when another mazy dribble and shot from outside the box resulted in fellow Argentine Roberto Pereyra mopping up the rebound. More importantly, it was game, set, match and all-but-certainly the Scudetto.
While in previous seasons, Juve struggled to formulate a plan B against plucky sides such as Empoli or in crunch Cup ties, both at home and abroad, Tevez’s incredible stamina and determination, coupled with his natural flair, has taken the Turin giants to the much-hyped ‘next level’.
The fact that the likes of Pirlo and Paul Pogba, notable talismen in their own right, are currently sidelined through injury only pays testimony to the former Manchester City star’s desire to step up to the plate and – as he fittingly puts it – ‘always sweat’ for the Italian powerhouse.
Despite his advancing years, the forward has enjoyed a new lease of life under Massimiliano Allegri, as explained in the wake of his standout performance in Week 11. For arguably the first time since the latter half of his spell with West Ham in 2007, the No 10 looks to be in his element.
Tevez’s contract expires at the end of next season, and his wish to retire at Boca Juniors has been well-documented. Regardless of what he decides to do, us Calcio purists should treasure the presence of this true phenomenon in our League for as long as we can.