Sometimes, injuries can make things awfully tough on a manager. He might lose an important player or two at a certain position and have to completely shuffle the deck in order to try and replace what he now sees sitting in the stands for the time being. Other times, though, it can make a manager's job easier. Personnel choices get cut down and potentially easy to make.
We're not exactly sure which one of these two options Antonio Conte's choice for Juventus' forward partnership against Fiorentina this Sunday falls into, but we know a thing or two already.
Mirko Vucinic is hurt. Fabio Quagliarella is hurt. Juventus are left with three strikers on the roster unless everybody's favorite superhero, Nicklas Bendtner, is walking through the Turin airport any time soon. This could be a good thing when it comes to narrowing down the choices Cone has to line up and roll with against Fiorentina. Or, it could make the decision of who to start next to Carlos Tevez just that much harder.
We know Tevez will play. That's as safe of a bet as there is right now. But who will play next to him? That's still up in the air until Conte possibly tips his hand during his pre-match press conference on Saturday or we see the lineups less than an hour before kickoff in Florence.
Fiorentina-Juve: Giovinco is favored over Llorente to partner with Tevez, Padoin is ahead of Isla & Motta to replace Lichtsteiner (GdS)— David Amoyal (@DavidAmoyal) October 18, 2013
So, who you got?
The case for Fernando Llorente
We've been waiting for the day when the stars align and the tall Spaniard gets his shot at consistent playing time in a Juventus jersey. And this could very well be his first chance to really get a stranglehold on a starting spot over the next couple weeks with both Vucinic and Quagliarella battling injuries.
The devil's advocate will say that Llorente got his first shot at "consistent" playing time when he got the start against the two Verona-based clubs late last month. But two games isn't exactly what you call a huge sample size to say whether or not somebody is back to being who they used to be after such a long period of time away from the field.
I think it's safe to say Llorente showed some flashes during his two-game stint in Juventus' starting lineup last month. He was clearly nowhere near full strength three-plus weeks ago, but it would have been hard to imagine he would be. His goal against Hellas Verona was a beauty, a classic kind of header. He was able to get involved in the build up play and showed a few of his tricks and flicks in the process.
Was that enough to convince Conte that Llorente is ready to take a step up or two in competition? I don't know. But I also haven't seen what Conte has seen in training the past two weeks over the international break in which Llorente could very well have continued to understand and establish his knowledge of his manager's system.
So I'll leave this here to ponder: If the plan was to have Tevez and Llorente be the starting striker tandem, no matter how long it took the latter to adjust and shake off the rust, why not roll it out in two of the biggest matches this season thus far?
The case for Sebastian Giovinco
We talk about how little Llorente has played this season, but Giovinco has played a fewer amount of minutes by a pretty good margin. Outside of his start in the Turin derby, Seba has played all of 34 minutes in three appearances off the bench in Serie A thus far. That's, uh, not very much at all.
What does this all mean? Well, I'm not exactly sure other than Giovinco is rested.
Okay, so maybe there's more to it than that.
He obviously has very different characteristics than the other strikers on the Juve roster. He won't have a physical presence that somebody like Llorente would be up front, but that's just stating the obvious. His added flair alongside Tevez could be what is needed to break down a Fiorentina defense that has been, at least by the statistics, one of the better collective units so far this season. They might not be in their best form right now, but we saw last season just how a Vincenzo Montella-managed Viola side can keep Juventus under wraps.
Just don't expect him to be on the receiving end of very many crosses, you guys. (Even though he will now score the game's lone goal with his head since I've typed that last sentence.)
He wants to be a part of this Juventus team, right? Well, if he gets the chance to play, it's time to show he deserves even more opportunities when everybody is healthy.