Even a year later, the feeling is still very new. After years of turmoil, rebuilding, and average/streaky strikers, Juventus played one full season with two amazing strikers leading the charge. Can you believe it?
And boy did they lead this team. Juve fans had been longing for two match-deciding forwards for a long time and this year they finally got what they were waiting for, at least in Serie A. The partnership that Tevez and Llorente formed up front was a true representation of what and who Juventus is in 2014. A hard-working team that is patient, prepared, and one of the most dedicated teams in Europe. Conte's work with Tevez and Llorente was the epitome of hard work paying off.
There were others that helped the charge up front of course, but the beauty and the beast were the main attacking duo to will Juventus to glory this season. Here's how yours truly, the ever-generous BWRAO player rating keeper, would rate the attackers for the 2013/2014 season:
Carlos Tevez - 8.0
For how young Tevez is, there was already plenty of turmoil in his career before he showed up at Vinovo last summer. His quality was never brought into doubt, however. He was, for Serie A, a top-class striker who had all the qualities to bag 20 goals for a well-oiled machine like Juventus. Carlitos ended the Serie A season at 19 goals in 34 games, in third place for the Capocannoniere title behind Ciro Immobile with 22 and Luca Toni (yes, that's right, the ancient Luca maafuckin Toni) with 20. He also led the league in most shots on goal (54) and notched 7 assists in Italy.
Aside from all the goals and stats, Tevez proved himself to be one of the hardest working attackers I've ever watched and was a relentless pitbull on the pitch every time he stepped on it in a Juve shirt. The expectations for him were high, and he not only matched them but successfully established an incredibly high reputation for himself. A fantastic first season for Carlitos in Torino — I wish him only more success in the years to come.
Fernando Llorente - 7.5
Standing tall but trailing only slightly behind Tevez is the magnificently beautiful Spaniard, Fernando Llorente. We've all but forgotten the time it took El Rey Leon to adapt to Juventus' game at the start of the season, as he's become such a staples choice up front ever since. The arrival of Llorente had many facets to it — his ability to score goals was certainly important, but the way Conte used the Spaniard for the flow of Juve's attack really transformed him into a key figure in our starting 11. Llorente worked hard, learned, and responded well to the pressure to go on and notch 16 goals and 5 assists in 34 games. His headers were so good he made Lichtsteiner look like a capable crosser. He scored key goals in key moments and similarly to Tevez, was sorely missed when not on the pitch. Both of our starting strikers will have to improve in Europe next year — especially Tevez — but now that it's all said and done for this season, they sure had a great one.
Fabio Quagliarella - 6.5
The drop off in games played, goals scored, and overall quality is massive from the newly acquired duo of Llorente and Tevez to the rest of Juve's strikers. While injuries did their thing throughout the season, it really goes to show the massive need we had for strikers that can actually score goals on a consistent basis. Fabio Quagliarella was on the verge of leaving Juventus on several occasions, yet in the end ended up scoring two goals in four games during our measly Champions League run, as much as any other striker this season. In the league, his performance was quite awful, notching just one goal in 17 games, most of which he came on as a substitute. I highly doubt we'll see Fabio in a Juventus jersey for one more season, though he's always been somewhat of an interesting back up with his unpredictability.
Sebastian Giovinco - 6.5
I know there's been a lot of hate towards the Atomic Ant from Juve supporters throughout the years (me included), but this year I saw flashes of what Giovinco can be at Juventus if all the stars aligned for him. Not saying it will ever happen, in fact the chances are slim, but in all the garbage minutes Giovinco was given he was a bit more decisive with his play, a bit sharper, even if only slightly. Don't get me wrong, he had a very average season other than that goal against Milan, but if Conte finally switches to a 4-3-3 next year he can prove to be a valuable option on the attacking wing. That is, if he stays in Juventus, which I think he will.
Mirko Vucinic - 6
Poor Mirko spent most of the season benched, injured, or getting shipped off to Inter only to be brought back into the team after a collapsed transfer. Last year, he was a key figure for Juventus while this season his impact was minimal at best. I doubt he'll stick around for much longer.
Dani Osvaldo - 6
Came on loan mid-season as a backup and was seemingly more of a locker room spirit addition than a highly-valuable asset on the field. He is undoubtedly talented, but did very little to force Marotta's hand to splurge around $20 million for his outright ownership. That said, he did get that meaningless yet season-stamping goal against Roma at the end of the season.
All in all, Juventus made a huge jump in quality when it comes to our strikers last summer. Players like Llorente and Tevez were needed for years and now that they are finally here, we certainly reaped the benefits from it. As we try to bridge the gap between Juventus and the world class teams like Bayern and Real Madrid, we must continue to improve on this level. One more great striker to create healthy competition is crucial, especially if Conte is to continue to use the 3-5-2 for the majority of games during a season. Whether that will be a young talent like Morata or a seasoned veteran with plenty left in the tank, we cannot get complacent with the duo of Llorente and Tevez to lead us to glory on all fronts next season.
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