Juventus 2012-13 Season in Review: The Midfielders and Wingbacks

Valerio Pennicino

For the second year running I was assigned to rate the midfielders, arguably Juve's strongest department. Just like last year, the midfield was the engine that got things done, especially when the forwards forgot how to put the ball in the back of the net. Let's look at how they did. Note: Clearly Jorid and I did not communicate well as I also rated the wingbacks with the midfielders. I didn't notice this until I wrote this article. Instead of erasing the wingbacks from this review I decided to keep them to add to the discussion.

Mauricio Isla 5.5

Isla had a pretty poor first year with Juventus, maybe his injury was still nagging him or maybe the shirt weighed too much on him. No matter the reason, his first season does not justify his 18m price tag. His worst game came against AC Milan at the end of November. After that game, he featured in 5 more matches collecting a total of 63 minutes. His next appearances came on the last three matches of the season when the scudetto was a foregone conclusion. He played the full 90 minutes in each match. He performed well against Atalanta and Cagliari, and had an average/poor performance against Sampdoria, however the team couldn't care at all in that last match. Despite of his low rating, I share Danny's view that Isla must stay with Juventus at least one more season.

Arturo Vidal 8.5

Unlike Isla, our other Chilean had an impressive season. 13 goals, 10 assists, no red cards. His Whoscored page has the following under weaknesses: "Player has no significant weaknesses" - couldn't agree more. My two favorite Vidal moments of the season were his goal against Torino on the 86th minute, and his goal against Chelsea with a busted ankle. His running, tackling, and shooting were sorely missed against Bayern in the return leg. No wonder why every team we deal with would like to include Vidal as part of the deal. Thankfully he is staying put for a while. Grinta personified.

Andrea Pirlo 7.5

Pirlo had another impressive season. Starting 41 matches (never came on as a substitute), it is hard to believe he is 34 years old. This season, the opposition marked Pirlo more than before and managed to frustrate him in more than one occasion. Andrea managed 7 assists in Serie A and 3 assists in the Champions League. Although these numbers are not as impressive as his 13 assists last year -in one competition-, it also speaks to the fact that Juventus have devised ways to score when Pirlo is shut down. I hope Pirlo can be rested more next season allowing him to put his best displays forth.

Claudio Marchisio 7.5

Marchisio's season also was not as impressive as last season. I think fatigue had something to do with that. Il Principino played a total of 52 matches starting with the Eurocup (not counting Juve's friendlies). That is not to say that he played poorly - every time he was not on the field, the team seemed to be lacking something. Later in the season he was asked to play behind a lone striker. Although he did fine against Lazio, he seemed uncomfortable playing as a trequartista in subsequent matches. With the emergence of Paul Pogba, I hope Il Principino can get more rest next season, it will be better for him and for the team.

Kwadwo Asamoah 7.0

Had a good start to the season and a good end to the season. After AFCON his form really dropped. When Kwadwo was signed I thought he would be Marchisio's substitute, instead, the Ghanian surprised us all with very strong displays as a wingback. I don't know if this will be his position in the future with Juve, I just hope he can also provide some cover for Marchisio when Il Principino needs it. His highlight of the season, the goal against Napoli on the Supercup, I am sure he won many tifosi hearts with that one.

Stephan Lichtsteiner 7.5

There is a reason why PSG wanted him last season, and there is a reason why Madrid appear to be interested in him this summer. The Swiss is one of the best players in his position. He continues to score, assist and run tirelessly, and his defensive contribution has not gone unnoticed. He was another player that was sorely missed in the return leg against Bayern.

Simone Padoin 6.0

I must admit that Jorid's description of Padoin was so good I was very close to copying and pasting it here. Instead I kept what I had.

Padoin must have something on Conte from their time at Atalanta, like when Conte ate little kittens for breakfast. At least that is the only explanation I can find for Simone having so much playing time. He has started 6 matches and played 14 as a substitute. I guess his versatility makes him important for the team. Whoscored only weakness for Padoin is: "Passing". So there you have it, Padoin's season in a nutshell, an overplayed winger who can't pass. As much as I like giving him a hard time, I would have to say that although he contributed little offensively, his defensive contributions were decent. Didn't make as many mistakes as Isla and I guess that was enough for Conte.

Paul Pogba 7.5

He came in as future prospect. Now the discussion has shift towards how much playing time should he get next year, and who can be benched in favor of the Frenchman. His goals against Napoli and Udinese made him a fan favorite from the start, but his composure on and off the pitch are what makes him a future star. His maturity was evident against Bayern Munich, it is hard to believe this was Pogba's first season in the senior squad.

Emmanuele Giaccherini 6.5

The emergence of Pogba meant that Giaccherini had limited play time. Most of his appearances coming on the wings. His last minute goal against Catania, when Juventus were trying to distance themselves from Napoli was Giaccherini's highlight of the season.

Federico Peluso 6.0

Had a few appearances as a wingback. After a few shaky starts he grew into the role. Defensively he was good (after his poor start) but didn't contribute much offensively. With that being said, he was lucky enough to not get carded for reckless fouls more than once. After Asamoah's form improved after AFCON, Federico was relegated to the bench.

Paolo De Ceglie 6.5

Because of Asamoah's good form, Paolino did not get many chances this season. However, when he played, he delivered many of those delicious crosses from the left. I am pretty sure he is the best Juve player at that. The problem is that we don't have any strong players on the air. Moreover, Conte's tactics call for few crosses to avoid giving up the ball recklessly. With the Arrival of Llorente, I think Paolino can have a bigger impact next season. With that being said, I am perfectly comfortable if Juve sell him this summer market.

Simone Pepe s.v.


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