Sometimes we sit here, look at numbers and try to convey them in one way or another. We'll try to crunch them as well as we possibly can and then break them all down. So when we take a gander at simple offensive numbers this season, we'll look at the face of it and say, "Hey, Juventus has scored 30 goals in 13 Serie A games. Things must be great!" Who doesn't want to average between two and three goals a game through the first third of the season, right?
Things right now are good, but not exactly great — which basically means Juve's attack can get better. That may sound fun to some seeing as Juventus is currently atop the Serie A table once again, but it's the truth.
I think the headline above pretty much says it all. Or, in other words, "Release the Morata."
Up to this point, Álvaro Morata, the man who Juventus signed from Real Madrid for €20 million over the summer, has been Fernando Llorente's understudy. Morata's playing time has been anything but consistent other than the fact that Morata's starts have been few and far between. He has been the definition of a potential spark plug off the bench — and the stats below only prove that point even more.
|Games Played (Serie A & UCL)||Starts||Minutes Played||Goals||Assists||Shots Per Game|
(All stats via WhoScored.com)
There is, of course, some context to be added to those numbers. All four of Morata's goals have come when Juventus are already in the lead — including two against Parma when the game was over by the time halftime arrived. While two of Llorente's four goals this season have proven to be match winners (against Parma and Malmö last month).
But with those numbers, my thought process can't help but be something like, "I wonder what Morata would do if he got the chance to start on a regular basis..."
Juventus have made the switch from the 3-5-2 formation to 4-3-1-2/4-3-2-1/4-1-2-1-2 or whatever you want to call it. And because of it, the overall quality of the team's performances — in the big picture — have improved. Sure, the Derby della Mole win was a grind-it-out, ugly kind of win, but in the other games they have racked up some of their better performances all season during the month of November.
And that's where Morata comes in.
He's not the same kind of striker as Llorente. Morata won't be leading the line and holding the ball up as much as his fellow Spaniard does most weeks. But what he's proven over the last three months is that he can make a noticeable impact even though the vast majority of his playing time has come from off the bench rather than from the opening whistle. He has scored goals off the bench, but he's also contributed to goals as well — the most recent, even though he didn't officially get the assist, coming over the weekend against Torino on Andrea Pirlo's last-second winner.
Make no mistake, though, he can score it.
Yeah, that's pretty. (Not just because we have the 'OOOOHHHH!' from the play-by-play announcer, either.)
And while Llorente's form continues to be inconsistent at best, the prospect of Morata and all of his potential supplanting him in the starting lineup looks more and more like a welcome possibility. Allegri has been understandably loyal to Llorente up until this point, but with games against Fiorentina and Alético Madrid on the horizon, Juventus has to field the best possible squad that it can.
Does that lineup include Llorente? Or does that lineup include Morata? That's the question that Max Allegri has to ponder right now. He's already got one striker playing some of the best ball of his career, so we know Carlos Tévez will do his thing like he has done so many times since he joined Juventus.
As successful as Juventus has been over the last month or so, it's time for a change. A change that comes for a consistent amount of time, at that. One that has the potential to make the Juventus attack only that much better.
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