clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci is quietly having a very good season

Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

There have been moments in Leonardo Bonucci's six-year career with Juventus that make you laugh, others that make you stand up and cheer, and then some that make you frustrated as all living hell. This has been the story of Leonardo Bonucci ever since the day he made his Juve debut in August of 2009.

Like it or leave it, things just happen — good and bad.

Yes, things like that tends to happen from time to time, especially this season. And let's be honest, it's worth a good laugh to see Bonucci take a tumble over the advertising boards during the handful of Juventus wins he's done such this season.

Yet, with all the funny comes the pretty impressive as well.

You probably won't be mistaking Bonucci for Carlos Tévez or Álvaro Morata anytime soon, but that's beside the point. It's not like we get to see a Juventus defender stride forward with a run like that and find the back of the net. (No, not Giorgio Chiellini as much as he wants to do those kinds of runs on a regular basis.)

Let me pose this question with a follow-up: Did you expect Bonucci to be one of Juventus' most consistent and reliable players this season? Did you expect him to be Juventus' most consistent defenders as well? I'm asking this in an honest kind of way, not the 'Hey, let's mock Leo because he's kinda funny!' way or anything like that. Bonucci has been good — in fact, very, very good for the vast majority of the 2014-15 season, one that will see Juve wrap up a fourth straight Scudetto in a matter of games and advance to the Champions League semifinals.

This is, statistically speaking at least, how all five of the players to play center back for Juventus this season have done in Serie A:

Tackles per game Interceptions per game Fouls per game Clearances per game
Leonardo Bonucci 1.1 2.0 0.8 4.8
Giorgio Chiellini 2.1 2.7 1.3 5.4
Andrea Barzagli 1.4 1.0 0.4 3.2
Martin Cáceres 1.8 0.9 0.3 2.0
Angelo Ogbonna 1.2 1.7 0.8 3.3

All numbers via

Obviously those above stats are just the start of it and don't tell the whole story. Why? Because on the sheer face of it all, it tells us that since Giorgio Chiellini's stats are better than Bonucci's, he must be having a pretty good season, too.

Well, not really.

Bonucci's had to play next to an out-of-form Chiellini for a good amount of Juventus' games this season. It seems like we've probably seen Chiellini slip on the turf on a European stage just as many times as Bonucci has gone over the advertising boards in recent weeks. Then you throw in how Juventus' defense has been ravaged by injuries — with both Barzagli and Cáceres missing huge chunks of the season — and despite all of it, Bonucci has been as consistent as it gets.

And it has come in a campaign where Max Allegri began the season with a base 3-5-2 formation, then switched to his preferred 4-3-1-2, and has since bounced back and forth depending on the injury situation and what the individual game calls for at the time. At the center — ha, pun intended — of it all bas been Bonucci no matter which defensive setup has been used.

Some of that has to do with the fact that Bonucci is comfortable in both formations because of the past teams he's been on, but it also has to do with how well he has played in general. It doesn't really what formation Allegrii has deployed or who has played alongside the 27-year-old Bonucci. When he's played, he's produced. And that has happened a lot considering he has played the most minutes (2,700) and started the most games (30 out of a possible 32) out of any Juventus player in Serie A this season.

That's something we weren't able to say during the early days of his Juventus career. Gone are the days where he was wildly inconsistent and a potential liability in big games.

And the value of all of this? Massive, no doubt. In a season where the shuffling in defense has been frequent as Allegri going between two formations as of late, the only thing more consistent has been the play of Bonucci.