Friday March 9 2012
Missing Marchisio and Pepe

While Juventus’ strikers come under fire, Antonio Labbate looks at the disappearance of goals from two other sources as a possible reason for their recent problems.

The coffee rocket is on the stove and the sound of a radio can be heard in the background. The roaring of boiling espresso dies down just in time to catch the thoughts of a caller to the talk show on air. “Antonio Conte has yet to understand that when he picks Mirko Vucinic, Juventus will always play with 10 against 12.” That was the morning of Bologna-Juventus.

The Montenegrin scored in the re-arranged fixture that same day, but it wasn’t enough to silence his critics or dispel fears over Juventus’ problems in attack. His languid style continued to infuriate, as well as mask his qualities, while strike partner Marco Borriello did very little to suggest that he will be signed outright in the summer once his loan deal from Roma expires.

Coach Conte has chopped and changed his forwards in recent weeks, with the arguably under-used  Fabio Quagliarella and Alessandro Matri in and then out of the side. The only constant has been the lack of opportunity given to veteran Alex Del Piero in his final season at the club.

A shortage of goals from the forward department is clearly an issue for the Old Lady, a quick glance at the numbers illustrates that. Matri has 10 in 23 League games, but Borriello, Quagliarella, Del Piero and Vucinic have only scored six goals between them from a combined 55 appearances. Those are worrying statistics for a side – now without goal-shy Amauri – who are hunting down a Scudetto.

Yet those figures have been a constant throughout the campaign and not just during Juventus’ recent bout of drawitis. What has changed over the last two months are the lack of crucially important goals from Claudio Marchisio and Simone Pepe.

Given that Juventus don’t have a tin opener such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic or the inspiration of a younger Del Piero, they have got to where they are this season thanks to a team ethic which is borne out of self-sacrifice in the greater interests of the Old Lady. But as the tiring term has worn on, Conte’s decision to base his first team on a relatively small select group of players may have had an adverse effect on Marchisio and Pepe in particular.

The central midfielder was in the form of his life at the start of the campaign. His early displays suggested that this could be the season of his consecration, where promise had been transformed into consistent classy performances. Pepe, who’s had his injury problems recently, seemed revitalised too after a pretty mediocre first year in Turin.

In total, the pair have contributed 11 goals in Serie A this term. Marchisio’s six strikes in five separate games delivered five victories, while four wins have come from Pepe’s five net-ripplers. The problem for Juve is that Marchisio last scored on December 4 against Cesena and the Roman on December 18 against Novara. Since that game against their Piedmont rivals, Conte’s men have won just four and drawn seven in Serie A.

It has been tough to watch Marchisio struggle in recent weeks, while Juventus have clearly missed the contribution of Pepe – especially his link-up play with the diminishing contribution of Stephan Lichtsteiner.

The return to 4-3-3 will undoubtedly benefit the latter pair, but it seems clear that if the Turin giants do have serious ambitions of ending the campaign as Campioni d’Italia, then it won’t just be Vucinic and his striking colleagues who will have to start finding the net again.

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Have your say...
Im afraid the staff in control have left it waaay to late to start bringing other players in to play. Now that the "1st" team is out of form and struggling the ones coming in such as Elia for example whos harldy played arnt gonna have much of an impact! so its a catch 22 situation really. Play ugly and Win at times but watching Juve against Genoa we were great but that problem upfront is not going to go away not with the players we have. Keep the Faith. Forza Juve
on the 13th March, 2012 at 8:56am
I believe that Juventus were one summer signing away from being champions elect. We were so close to signing Sergio Aguero, but if a player puts money before prestige, then they will always join Manchester City. Then we would have signed Giuseppe Rossi, but after Villereal sold Cazorla they took Rossi off the market. Either one of these players would have turned draws into wins and could have made all the difference. But the Scudetto race isn't over quite yet and Juve will keep fighting to the end.
on the 13th March, 2012 at 12:17am
i cant understand ive been watching juve 40 years with contes selections and the exclution of del piero our ambitions this season is over.
on the 12th March, 2012 at 11:14am
We are doing better than I expected at the beginning of the season, BUT that is largely due to us only having serie A to focus on and the poor form of teams below us ie.napoli,inter,lazio,roma. We were promised big name signings last summer and truth be known we would have signed Aguero if City wouldn't have bid.So who was our alternative,VUCINIC!Boriello was a bad signing in Jan it's obvious he couldnt hit a barn door.Juve need to sign one or two W-Class players this summer. One DF and one CF.
on the 12th March, 2012 at 10:35am
juve really needs a quality striker probably hugain is the best option, with matri and boriello juve look mediocre side ,they wont be able to compete in ucl with these strikers.we all know juve for having top quality players in their side in past, wake up juve u r the flagship of Italian football.sell all these overrated players and invest in top quality players and take this club were it deserve to be a top club int the world.forza juve
on the 12th March, 2012 at 10:22am
Unbelievable another draw!!! Grrr!!! Not quite there yet, need more quality.

Sell the deadwood and use that money along with the stadium + CL qualification revenues to buy a Hazard/Nani and a Van Persie/Suarez please.

The imminent arrival of Pogba is much needed also!
on the 12th March, 2012 at 9:07am
let del pierro play please.I dont care if we finish 5th or 15th or for the unbeaten record,just let ale play,cuz its his last season.I cry every game i see him on the bench.I cant understand why litle conte wont play the big Ale after all he have done for juve.I hope Juve never ever ends 1st,2nd,3rd or 4th because of humiliation done now to Del piero.shame on u conte and juve!Never again will watch u after this season(after being a juve fan for 20years)cuz this thing u do to Ale u wont have a big player ever,they will go to Milan,u dont respect yr legends more then others do.Conte out,Ale for trainer
on the 12th March, 2012 at 12:33am
Conte thinks Juve are 'performing miracles'. A home draw with Chievo is tragic, does he think Juve are a mid-table team? Fixtures since xmas have been simple + remaing games are Hell (no 'easy' game until Cesena in mid April ie. this was the time to pick up points) No Euro games mean we should'nt be tired as Milan etc. Other teams have been inconsistent and we're lucky to be 2nd. Why do Juve always crumble post xmas? Unbelievable that 4-1 on first day was our biggest win. I'd settle for 4th.
on the 10th March, 2012 at 6:22pm
i remember a blog when everybody was so excited borriello was coming and i remember saying how he is the worst player the world has ever known i would rather have my girlfriend playing upfront for Juve. So well done juve fans u got what u deserve. I don't believe the hype around Conte. It is a manager's ability to lift a team when they lose that shows his quality and i know when juve lose he wont lift them again. Bring in Rafa Benitez! Put Buffon up front, he prob better then what they have
on the 10th March, 2012 at 11:58am

Lichsteiner, Caceres, Vidal, De Ceglie
Marrone, Pirlo, Marchisio
Del Piero
Matri, Quagliarella
on the 10th March, 2012 at 10:16am
What about this for a line up for the Genoa game, with what we have available to incorporate ADP? thoughts please.


Lichsteiner, Caceres, Vidal, De Ceglie
Marchisio, Pirlo
Quagliarella, Del Piero, Elia
on the 10th March, 2012 at 10:06am
Everyone underrates Pepe. He is much better than what he was pre-Juve. His ball skills have improved and he scores more goals. He isn't too bad at free-kicks either.

If Borriello and Vucinic are to be used, they should be in an offensive duo. They played in front of a #10 at Roma. A trident wouldn't really suit them.

Elia deserves another chance on the left side. Del Piero would be suited to an attacking duo and now is the time to play him. His free-kicks can win Juve vital matches.
on the 10th March, 2012 at 8:33am
What Conte has done this season has been incredible, turning a 7th rate team into a Scudetto challenger has been remarkable. But some of his selections since the winter break have caused concern. Matri should start every match, he is our most natural goalscoer and his record since arriving has been excellent. Del Piero and Quagliarella should definately have more starts, Vucinic and Boriello should be on the bench at best. Giaccherini, Estigarribia and Marrone all need more playing time too.
on the 10th March, 2012 at 12:24am
I think we all agree Vuc & Bori are useless! would love to have a QnA with conte to see how he would justify them. Elia has been good when hes played apart from his debut and looks good in training so why not start him? we r not playing long ball up 4 a target man to hold up so we dont need Bor to justify him cos he "holds the ball up" is daft! Padouin is another odd signing i said las yr marotta is in over his head. the old triad went and got the champions. Forza juve keep the faith (?)
on the 10th March, 2012 at 12:20am
Play Elia. Drop Vucinic. Play Matri. Drop Boriello. Give Del Piero and Quag more playing time.
on the 9th March, 2012 at 9:48pm
we are clamouring for winning but we seem not to realise that our bench is unreliable. Marrota shouldnt continue with us. We have the right coach but wrong buyer. Lets encourage Conte and see how the season end. Its a miracle so far. Its better Matri and Quag pair and others sub. Del piero before others. Let Marchisio come from the bench for now.
on the 9th March, 2012 at 8:07pm
With the season starting so well (better than all my expectations) I'm starting to fear the worst. To stop the decline He MUST
1- Play Matri with Qual
2- Play ADP more (I don't care if we don't win but as it's his last season we owe him)and never play Boriello ever again (Possibly worse tha Amauri)
3- Give Elia/Krasic a chance.

Follow these simple rules and well be OK - carry on as we are and Europa League here we come.
on the 9th March, 2012 at 7:13pm
Vuc & Borriello need to go at the season's end. If Matri was actually starting regularly,and had better support. He could be having an amazing season right now along with Juve. I believe with proper support, Matri could be scoring 20+ a season. Looking at the schedule, and at the points on the table, we could easily fall to 4th or 5th within the next 9 weeks. Also: Krasic is a poor one-trick pony, please stop asking for him. And Caceres is not a left-back! Only a RB and a CB wen needed.
on the 9th March, 2012 at 6:08pm
From all the comments i've read so far the basic problem seems to be Conte's selections . We are greatly relying on Pirlo who still remains the star of this team . Still i would like to see him and Alex Del Piero play together . Qual should be given more playing time .And if Borrielo,Bonucci and Vucinic can get a 2nd chance (more than once) then krasic and Elia definitely deserve to play .
on the 9th March, 2012 at 5:18pm
While i am appreciative of what Conte has done this season, i am 1 of many that wonders what goes on during the training sessions that stops him from playing Elia? We paid 10m for this kid, yet he warms the bench. Why on earth did we buy Boriello? Personally i believe he is worse than Amauri, @ least Amauri is deadly when airborne.Marco is not good enough, period! Good news is that we are on target to achieve our objective, CL..unless we keep on drawing every game that is!
on the 9th March, 2012 at 5:14pm
Conte needs to put ego aside and drop Vucinic (forever) Elia needs a chance as his pace is phenomenal. Midfield is stale and needs a breather - give elia, krasic, marrone and Estigarribia games. Embarassing that Borriello is preferred to Qua. and DP. Del piero would a) give creativity and b)fans the chance to see him in this ultimate season. We need players with pace and craft not those who 'hold the ball up well' (vuc+Bor). Unbeatable record means little. Draws give little confidence or points
on the 9th March, 2012 at 4:54pm
@ MJ82

Every aspiring team needs midfielders that score goals aswell as creating goals. Remember Muller, Jugovic, Zidane, Nedved and even Conte; goal scoring midfilders that gave Juve the cutting edge over the opposition. Injuries + loss of form to Marchisio & Pepe have contributed to the poor results of late & the cutting edge from midfield has gone! Conte does not mix things up enough for me and must test out Elia and maybe give Del Piero a deeper role perhaps? to freshen things up a bit.
on the 9th March, 2012 at 4:28pm
Once Elia has learned to follow instructions he will get his chance. the organisation brought by Conte has been great, they are disciplined (except for 1st half at San siro) like the side which he captained to glory. this will result in some dampening of the forward line as they are asked to put in a shift. As this is the case we need at least one world class finisher, if we have to pay big then we have to. I'm convinced that if we had signed Aguero, we would be over 10 points clear by now.
on the 9th March, 2012 at 4:26pm
As a die hard Juve fan, I am beginning to fear the worst in that we are going to drop further back behind Milan. I respect Antonio Conte for bringing a stability & our identity back after 2 miserable years, however, he still does not know his best team, Matri should be starting every game, switching his strikers does not do good for continuity. Lets hope Giorgio & Andrea are back soon, Borriello and Vucinic unconvincing and Marchisio & Vidal need to find their early form & fast.
Troppo pareggi!
on the 9th March, 2012 at 4:22pm
the only real problem i have with Conte is Borriello. the guy just shouldn't be anywhere near the team. we shouldn't have to rely on goals from midfield, they should be a bonus that gives us something extra. bottom line the forwards have largely failed, they just aren't clinical enough and Vucinic is the embodiment of this, as skilled as he is. it's no good calling for Krasic, he's had plenty of chances and spurned them all and as for Elia, Conte says he needs to learn to do as he is asked.
on the 9th March, 2012 at 4:18pm
I luv juve with all my heart but from the look of things its gonna be difficult 4 us, we still have napoli, roma, lazio and inter 2 play, a c milan on the other hand have the small teams 2 play, unless we start turning these draws into winning I don't see the championship coming by so easy.
on the 9th March, 2012 at 4:03pm
Matri has played 1530 minutes, which means 17 whole league games. and 10 goal in 17 matches is a good statestic. Conte have to let him play all the matches, with quagliarella or del piero. Then the goals will come
on the 9th March, 2012 at 3:39pm
Luca Marrone has shown promise in the games he has played in. I wonder why not give him a chance at midfield. Pepe is a one dimensional player Conte likes him because of his wrok ethic but that is not enough. When every one is back from injury the staring line up should be.

Lietschtiner Barzagli Chiellini Caceras
Marchisio Pirlo Vidal
Del Piero
Matri Qualarella

Del Piero should be used as a play maker.
on the 9th March, 2012 at 3:35pm
I love what Conte has brought to Juve this season. But what I don't underdstand is why Boriello is in the team. I almost cried when I heard we were going to sign him. And why does Elia not play? He has the pace to open up spaces as italian defences hav problem with pacy strikers running at them. As for Bonnucci, well let's just hope Chiellini and Barzagli recover in time. We need a player that can take on defenders eg Giovinco, Rossi not immobile tanks like Boriello. Del pierro can still do better if given regualar playiung time and Matri should always start!
on the 9th March, 2012 at 3:33pm
Its heart breaking knowing the last memories of the great captain will be that of a bench warmer. How many times has he saved us, how many!?! I only wish the journalists ask Conte the question why he feels unproven, lazy players have EARNED a role over a legend, with it being DPs last ever season he must be full of motivation. Vuc and Borri have zero juve dna. We fans care not what these attackers do in a warmup training session, they cannot do it on the main stage so bring on someone who can!
on the 9th March, 2012 at 3:06pm

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