The expectations were extremely high for Andrea Stašková when she signed for Juventus in 2019. The teenager already had a full trophy case coming with her to Turin after dominating with Sparta Prague, including a 32-goal performance in her final season in the Czech First Division to earn the first Golden Boot of her career.
Plus, she’s capable of bangers like this from international play:
After nearly two years with Juventus, Stašková has finally settled in to the squad and may be set to make the move from being a top option off the bench to being a regular in the starting lineup. The only problem is finding out where she fits in among an already crowded attacking line.
Cristiana Girelli has shown no signs of slowing down as the top option at striker for Juventus, but Rita Guarino did pair the two in attack in the last game before the international break, leading to a 9-1 win over Pink Bari. And even though the entire attack was not needed for that game, the move still forced Arianna Caruso to the bench while Barbara Bonansea was still out due to an injury. Lina Hurtig was the third forward in Guarino’s 4-3-3 against Bari.
So, with all the different lineup combinations available to Juventus, one has to begin to wonder what the attack looks like when those five players are healthy and how long before Stašková is a staple in the first XI.
There has not been a starting lineup yet this season to include all five players, and Stašková was only involved in a start with four of the five once, grabbing an assist in a 4-3 win over Empoli back in August. But it seems clear Stašková is making a move with her recent play, making the most of the extra minutes with Bonansea sidelined.
In the last three matches (two of those being starts), Stašková has scored four goals and assisted on another. And that may not sound like a lot considering the 9-1 scoreline in the last match, but she only scored once against Pink Bari.
Her more impressive performance came the week prior when she played the full 90 minutes against Fiorentina and registered her first brace with Juventus in a 2-1 victory. While Stašková is certainly taking advantage of the extra starts recently, she has already proven herself even in limited minutes this season.
Stašková has recorded 0.81 goals per 90 minutes in all competitions this season, sitting third on the team behind Girelli and Hurtig. But she also provides more assists per 90 (0.49, fourth on the team) than either of those two pure forwards. That combination puts her second on the team with a whopping 1.3 goals or assists per 90 minutes, which ranks just behind Girelli in all competitions.
In league play, Stašková has been even more dominant off the bench and leads Serie A with 1.41 non-penalty goals and assists per 90. The next closest player is Hurtig at 1.27 and there are only three other players in the league average more than one. Stašková also leads the league in plus-minus per 90 minutes with Juventus outscoring opponents by 3.69 goals per 90 with her on the pitch.
It is clear Juventus benefit from having a player of Stašková’s caliber coming off the bench, but there’s not much more she can do to prove she has earned more playing time and more starts. While a rotation will still be necessary with the amount of talent in the midfield, it may be worth riding the hot hand to pair Stašková with Girelli and Hurtig at the expense of a more defensive-minded midfield. (It clearly works out fine, see below.)
If Stašková starts in the front 3, you will likely see Caruso get more starts in the midfield along with Bonansea when she returns. The rotation in the midfield is already a mess though with not a single player starting all 17 league matches in the midfield this season.
Of course, no one ever said this managing job was easy and when you want to be one of the top clubs in Europe, there is going to be plenty of depth so Guarino will have to know how to keep it rotated and keep everyone happy while maximizing the impact of the squad’s top players.
So let’s break down what a starting XI may look like if we are going to see Girelli and Stašková team up after the international break.
Stašková’s inclusion shouldn’t affect the rarely rotated back line with Laura Giuliani still in goal. Linda Sembrant and Lisa Boattin will hold their starting spots with Cecilia Salvai starting in the middle and veteran Tuiha Hyyrynen splitting minutes with Matilde Lindorf on the right.
Then things start to get a little more complicated.
Juventus will likely be looking to keep at least one midfielder who is more disciplined on the defensive side, which could lead to more consistent minutes for either Valentina Cernoia or Aurora Galli. Sofie Junge Pedersen should still be a staple in the midfield as long as she is healthy, possibly giving way to Martina Rosucci at times.
The third midfield spot would then depend on who joins Girelli and Stašková in the attack. When Hurtig takes the starting job on the left wing, Caruso or Bonansea should start as the more attacking midfielder. Either of those players could also take on the role on the left with the other staying back in the midfield to spell Huritg.
The first game back from the break is this weekend against third-place Sassuolo, so it is certainly not a time to be completely experimenting with a lineup, but Stašková could still see her third straight league start for the first time in a Juventus uniform. And it is certainly warranted.
Here is what I want to see when Guarino posts her team sheet Sunday:
(4-3-3) Giuliani; Boattin, Sembrant, Salvai, Hyyrynen; Galli, Pederson, Caruso; Hurtig, Stašková, Girelli.
The lineup may look more attacking at first glance, but Sassuolo has only allowed one goal in seven matches since the new year so it may be needed.
There may be a plan to stick with Stašková as a super sub, allowing Girelli to save her legs for future matches, but I think it would be doing Stašková and the club a disservice to not see what she can do in a full-time starting role for the final month of the season.