TURIN, ITALY - APRIL 22: Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo #21 of Juventus FC celebrates scoring the third goal during the Serie A match between Juventus FC and AS Roma at Juventus Arena on April 22, 2012 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Simone Pepe 7.0 - According to WhoScored, Pepe has played 15 games as a forward, however, his 10 games as a midfielder, warrant a short commentary in this post. I really struggled with his ranking, if it was 6.5, I thought it would suggest that Marrone was equally as good as Pepe (I don't believe so). Giving him a 7.5 would suggest he was as determinant this season as Marchisio and Vidal (I don't believe so either). Although in some games, his contributions left a lot to be desired, other times he was a game changer. His most important weapon was his versatility. Simone Pepe played six different positions in midfield: right, right attacking, left, left attacking, left defensive, and central. In all of those positions, he performed most times at least satisfactorily, with many very good games (see both Lazio matches). Although Pepe is a clown outside of the field, his all-business attitude inside the pitch have given the team the character it needed to overcome some difficult situations. His versatility, much appreciated by Conte, was central for this title. Simone epitomizes the four things Conte wants from his players: lavoro, lavoro, lavoro, and a lot of humility.
Marcelo Estigarribia 5.5 - His season is not as easy to judge. He scored one goal in the whole season (a very important one against Napoli). But he only played nine matches (an additional four as a substitute and three full games in the Coppa) in Serie A. Not too bad for his first year in a new league. He also had an assist for Chiellini in the away Roma game — again, not too bad. The problem is that he has missed innumerable chances, and that is not just this year. Estigarribia was notorious for messing up in front of the net before he came to Italy. Looking at whoscored.com, his strengths read: "Player has no significant strengths," whereas his weaknesses are: "Very weak aerial duels and weak passing and tackling." However, with all of this, Conte chose him for many important matches. So, what gives? My conclusion is that the player tries hard in training. He is a better dribbler than De Ceglie, but not as good as Giaccherini. He is a good crosser. He can't finish if his life depended on it. Maybe next year his contribution will be more meaningful, and he will show similar displays to those in the last Copa America. I, for one, wouldn't mind giving him another year to try.
Andrea Pirlo 8.5 - Thank you, Milan. He is injury prone? Excuse me, the guy played 37 games. He is past his prime? He has completed 86.9% of his passes (and take a look at what kind of passes he has made). He has been man of the match eight times (the next closest are Chiellini, Vidal and Matri with four each). I could continue with the numbers, but those you can find everywhere, and fortunately, they don't tell the whole story. Andrea Pirlo has been arguably every bit as important as Conte in achieving this tittle. His calm approach to the game, even with the team in trouble, allowed everyone to do their job. All of the accolades that he has received by other players who are exposed to talent time and again, speak volumes of Andrea's skills. With that being said, when Juventus started playing in midweek, Andrea became a little tired and the team felt it. Let's hope next year we have a solution for that problem. The other minor criticism of Pirlo: stop taking penalties. At the end of the day, his contribution to the team was so much more than the penalties he missed. In Andrea we have a leader, a point of reference, and a champion for a few more years. Too bad Galliani didn't give him to us earlier.
Michele Pazienza, Milos Krasic and Elijero Elia s.v. - Milos scored one goal this season, so I can't say he didn't contribute. Elia had a couple sweet moves as well. However, considering how little we saw of them, it is unfair to give them a grade. Milos, I am sorry to see you leave but your time here is over. I respect you as a professional. Elia, I am so glad you came to show the world that coming as a big name doesn't mean you get to play. You put your head down, you work hard and you follow orders, if you don't like it, don't let the door his you on your way out. Michele Pazienza was unsatisfied with his playing time and it must have shown in training, since Giaccherini and Marrone moved higher up the pecking order. I am glad we found him a club, and if we can give him as payment for Asamoah, I won't be complaining. Thanks for your service.
The midfield was pivotal in getting us the Scudetto this year. Next year, the understanding between players will be better, benefiting the Old Lady. With an average age of 26.3, our midfield is probably not even at its peak, and with Buoy, Giandonato, and Appelt showing good displays, the future looks bright. To make things even better, if we get our hands on Asamoah, Pogba, and Verratti, we would have one of the most solid midfields in the world. Although that should be a source of pride, it is also a continuation of a great tradition. Juventus has rarely envied other teams in any department, the midfield is no exception.