Juventus have not lost in their last nine matches, keeping four clean sheets and netting fifteen times. Not staggering stats, admittedly – but these numbers point to a new found stability that could yet prop-up a credible title shot.
Key summer signings have largely come good for la Vecchia Signora, with Milos Krasic, Leonardo Bonucci, Alberto Aquilani and Marco Storari putting in consistently good performances. The vast improvements of Felipe Melo and Claudio Marchisio – from last season, at least – have also gone a long way to giving their midfield some serious bite. And, of course, yet again, Alessandro Del Piero has reaffirmed his status as a genuine modern phenomenon.
Despite a consistent string of injuries affecting the squad, Juventus have managed to take vital points against scudetto rivals Milan and Inter. So clearly, at their best, this Juventus team are a match for anybody. But the question remains: how can they play at their best more often?
To anyone who watches the Bianconeri regularly, the answer is obvious: they desperately lack a consistently dangerous goal scorer. The deficiencies of Vincenzo Iaquinta and Amauri are obvious to even their most ardent supporters. Iaquinta has the hob-nailed touch of a demented brute and Amauri’s endless array of useless flicks and tricks never seem to bring him any closer to scoring a goal.
On the positive side, Del Piero has led heroically by example, scoring three times, with numerous assists. Fabio Quagliarella is a decent – sometimes spectacular -support striker but will never chip in with more than ten goals. Right now, Juventus need more, and the January transfer window presents a crucial opportunity for them to reinforce their attack – an opportunity they cannot afford to waste. So, what are their options?
Edin Dzeko has been linked with the Bianconeri for months now, but signing him now would be a brave move indeed. Unproven at the highest level, Dzeko represents an expensive gamble. The same might be said for Karim Benzema, another burly striker, but one whose confidence and talent have visibly shrunk in the limelight of Madrid. Would he fare any better at Juventus? It’s hard to say – but will they spend £20m or more just to find out?
It appears critical for Juventus to find a tried-and-tested goal scorer and if the rumours regarding their interest in Diego Forlan prove true, then they need look no further. Forlan has always scored goals, has great experience and can play in a number of formations – as demonstrated at the World Cup. Of all the strikers Juventus have been linked with, Forlan would arguably be the safest bet. Powerful, good inside and outside the box, fantastic in the air, and still with bags of pace, he is a top quality professional.
At the other end of the scale is the aimless, wandering genius of Antonio Cassano. Although Juventus have distanced themselves from a move, as a proven Serie A heavyweight, Cassano could quite easily slot in and ignite the team’s attack. Not only that, the player could cost Juventus nothing in just a few months’ time and his wage demands must also surely have been humbled.
With a solid defence, two excellent goalkeepers, a vibrant, busting and creative midfield, Juventus urgently need to find the missing piece to fit their scudetto-shaped puzzle. Should they manage to attract at least one world class talent to the club, they could emerge, once more, as one of European football’s most dangerous teams.