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On Claudio Marchisio and his continued struggle to return to form

Valerio Pennicino

I could mess around and come up with something clever, or I could just say what a lot of people have been thinking lately: This current version of Claudio Marchisio isn't the Claudio Marchisio that we've been accustomed to.

He's still the player that we've grown to love. The same player who has come through the Juventus youth ranks, helped Juve get out of Serie B, became a first-team regular in his early 20s, then became a regular for the Italian national team. He's still all of that. Still the future captain that

But right now, Marchisio isn't playing very well at all. Whether he's been deployed as a makeshift winger or in his usual central midfield spot, it hasn't been all that great for Il Principino. Juventus may be getting back to their best as a team, but the same can't be said for Marchisio on an individual basis.

How so?

From a certain Ivo Andov's Parma-Juventus review this past weekend:

Wasn't a factor whatsoever. He is a shadow of the Marchisio we used to argue if the tag "world class" was fit for or not. Starting to rack up a few too many "games to forget" if you ask me.

And from the Real Madrid review on Tuesday:

We've talked about this - we are all worried about our Principino. To be frank, his position today did not suit him, and he did...okay in it. Had a couple scoring opportunities on which he probably could've done better. I was generally okay with his performance as it could've been much worse. His real wake-up game is yet to come, and it's not gonna happen in a 4-3-3 formation on the right.

In two short paragraphs from Juventus' past two games, Marchisio's 2013-14 season thus far can be pretty much wrapped up — with a little bow on top, too, if you really want one.

Marchisio has always had a few of those games where you'd only really remember hearing his name being called once or twice during his time on his field. It didn't matter what kind of form he was entering the game, they happened. That was just kinda par for the course, an acceptable part of his game when it's compared to the bigger picture of him doing awesome things.

But when it comes to this current season, the so-so games have outnumbered the ones where he's one of the best Juventus players on the field. It's almost like we're in a backwards universe — good has been replaced with bad, and everything has been switched around.

The questions as to why Marchisio is playing the way he is have already been thrown out thee. What happened to the Marchisio of a few years ago who was as much of a threat offensively as he was a very good midfielder on defense? Why is a player of Marchisio's caliber struggling so much lately? Is he tired from playing seemingly every weekend for a couple years now?

The reason behind why it's been a struggle might be any combination of the three. It might be something completely different that we've yet to even consider. Or, it could be the simple fact that Marchisio is having a bad run of form just like any other player might have happen over the course of their career.

But the reality is that he's not playing at the same level that he has in the past or as well as the other three center midfielders — Andrea Pirlo, Paul Pogba and Arturo — Juventus have on the roster. I could throw a bunch of statistics at you and tell you how much his numbers have dipped compared to years past. The thing is, they don't need to be there. It's clear that Marchisio is struggling to find form with or without numbers backing up the argument.

And, yes, as one of the resident Marchisio fanboys, of course I'm concerned about how he's playing right now. Why wouldn't I be worried about one of Juventus' most important regular starters not playing up to his talent level? That only makes sense to me.

One thing is for certain, though: As much as Marchisio is a favorite amongst many of us, this isn't the Principino we're used to, one that is far from the player who pushed double digits in goals a few season ago.

(For the record, though: Claudio Marchisio is still better than you. That will never change.)