The Curious Case of Sebastian Giovinco

Giuseppe Bellini

After the Lazio game, one of our regular readers, JDAngkasa, posed a question that many have been wondering for a while: Why does Matri (and for that matter almost any other Juve player ed.) gets all this love and patience, whereas Gio can't seem to do any good in some of our eyes?

Sebastian Giovinco just doesn't seem to catch a break. When he just started with Juve, everyone thought he would be to Alex Del Piero what Il Capitano himself was to Roberto Baggio. Giovinco was supposed to earn his place as Juventus' second striker, and after a year or two, help the Bianconeri win a scudetto and help make Del Piero's imminent retirement more bearable.

Of course we all know what happened from there. The Atomic Ant couldn't find space under Ranieri, Ferrara, and Zac. Only against Chelsea and during a couple of matches coached by Ferrara did ol' lil' Sebastian showed the brilliance everyone expected. Finally, Marotta came along and did what should have been before: ship the Atomic Ant to a club where he could express his talents without the pressure of being the heir to Il Capitano.

It was in Parma that he was able to shine. However, it was not all roses. Many forget that his first season at the Ennio Tardini was far from groundbreaking. In 2010-2011, after 30 appearances, he recorded only 7 goals and 6 assists. Those were hardly numbers to warrant a callback to Antonio Conte's Juve determined to play in a 4-4-2 system. However, it all changed last year. Under Franco Colomba and Roberto Donadoni, Giovinco played a few meters up the pitch and recorded 16 goals and 13 assists in 30 matches.

Which brings us to this season.

To date, Giovinco has 9 starts and three appearances as a substitute. In that time he has scored four goals and two assists and has achieved an overall WhoScored record of 7.8. For comparison, only Buffon and Asamoah have recorded a higher rating at 7.9 (comparison only with Juve starting players). Yet, unless he scores a goal week-in and week-out, he is lambasted by media and fans alike.

So why such little faith? I can think of a few reasons why

1) Giovinco wore the "Heir to ADP" tag for so long, that even unconsciously, some of us (myself included) still have this expectation that Giovinco will become just that. Logically I know this is not true, and I will say it to anyone that cares to listen that Giovinco is not as talented, and will never be as good as Del Piero.

You don't believe me then ask yourself this? When was the last time that Giovinco turned his player, just like Del Piero used to, and then missed his shot and you thought: "Del Piero would have burried that". For me it was against Lazio last Saturday.

Giovinco has become to some the equivalent of the rebound girlfriend... we all know how that ends up.

2) Giovinco is not as influential as he was last year. One of Giovinco's main issues in the past was how poor he was in front of goal. This seemed to be all over after his impressive goal record (approximately 1 goal every two matches) last year. It was only reasonable to expect that Giovinco will at least be able to do the same playing alongside Pirlo, Marchisio, Vidal, etc.

His 4 goals in 9 appearances are not that far from that 0.5 goals/match ratio he had last season, the problem is that those goals have hardly been decisive. Two of those goals came against Udinese (Juventus were already 2-0 up before Giovinco scored). Another goal was against Roma (Juve were winning 3-1 already). And his last goal was against Pescara in a game that was never a contest. Even when looking at the Champions League, Giovinco's goal last match came from a counterattack when the game was essentially settled.

I for one, would have expected him to break the deadlock against teams like Lazio, Inter, or Napoli. Yes, he has created scoring opportunities out of thin air, but unless they amount to goals and wins, he will continue to be a good player, but not one to depend on to get us out of trouble. The Inter game really comes to mind. Zanetti had his number all match. This cemented my opinion that physical defenders that sit back well organized really cause him trouble. Don't get me wrong, Zanetti has stopped many great players in his day but he really took him completely out of the game.

Which brings me to my next point.

3) The last point ties with Giovinco's style of play. Some have mentioned in the comments section that he is not well suited to Juventus when we dominate possession. The suggestion being that he does better when Juventus have to hit on the counterattack.

It is no secret that one of Giovinco's main strengths is his speed, while one of his major downfalls is his size. For those reasons it is no surprise that playing on the counter will suit his characteristics better. Even against Udinese, one of his goals came from running faster than the defense rather than from a masterful touch. Often, if Juventus are dominating possession, Giovinco will have to face players that are well positioned, and while he may sometimes beat them one on one, those defenders have someone else covering their backs.

Until recently, this problem was aggravated by the fact that Vidal and Marchisio were not making runs and flooding the opposing area. This generally allowed the opposition defense to take care of Giovinco with ease leaving him less space to move. During the Lazio match, Marchisio and Vidal created more room for Giovinco up front and it really showed.

So here is my call to the Juventus community. If we had endless faith in Amauri for months and months until we all got fed up with his lack of ability, let's give Giovinco a little breathing room. He will never make us forget about Del Piero as his skill set is simply not at the same level, never mind what Del Piero means to this club. However, he can be a very useful part of team that can win plenty over the next few years. And lets not forget, at Parma, Giovinco's best football came after he had time to settle. So maybe after all, his best is yet to come.

Forza Formica Atomica

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