With the Bianconeri attack mostly relying on one man, it has been a battle between two Spaniards to fight for a place next to their Argentine top-scorer, with the 22-year-old summer signing proving to have won that race.
It indeed takes two to tango; a fact Juventus will have realised in recent weeks, with the coming out of Alvaro Morata.
The 22-year-old Spanish striker has scored nine goals in all competitions for Juventus (including three goals in his last five games), ahead of the Bianconeri’s Monday clash against Roma. More so than his goals though, Morata has proven to be a great foil for star striker Carlos Tevez.
The importance of Tevez can never be overstated when it comes to the Juventus attack. In the same way Gianluigi Buffon is the leader in defence and Andrea Pirlo is the cornerstone in midfield, Tevez is the spearhead leading the attack.
Tevez has scored 14 goals and provided seven assists for Juventus in Serie A this season. In other words, out of Juventus’ 51 goals scored, Tevez has been responsible for approximately 41 per cent of the Bianconeri’s offence.
However the reliance on a singular source of goals can have its own drawbacks. Thus came Morata to the rescue, to take over his misfiring compatriot Fernando Llorente.
Last season, Llorente formed a great partnership with Tevez, scoring 16 goals in Serie A. This year, Llorente has only managed five Serie A goals. Therefore Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri had to make a decision on the €20 million summer signing.
Today Morata seems all but undroppable. Although Morata isn’t as intimidating as his 6’5” compatriot (he is two inches shorter), he still offers that physical presence and aerial ability Llorente does.
Moreover, Morata adds a technical dimension and pace that Llorente does not have in his arsenal. More importantly however, Morata offers mobility whereas Llorente is a more static, penalty-box striker.
Ever since his second season at AC Milan, Allegri had often spoken about wanting his teams to be more fluid and play without reference points.
Morata provides this through his mobility, pace, and technique. The Spanish striker is sharper when turning with his back to goal, is a better dribbler when it comes to beating his marker, and boasts of the pace to run in behind defenses.
With Morata in the team, Allegri is able to play with more fluidity and in different ways.
The Juventus coach can play more on the counter and utilize Morata’s pace (like he did against Borussia Dortmund in their UEFA Champions League first leg). Allegri can also play a more controlled game, with Morata using his frame and dribbling to open up spaces.
That versatility is Morata’s greatest asset today and why he is such a successful and important foil to Tevez.
Morata can act as a shield for the Argentine, using his 6’3” frame to occupy defenders and afford Tevez more time and space on the field. At the same time, Morata has the technical ability to combine with Tevez and support him during the build-up play.
With Llorente, who seemed to dictate the way Juventus had to play, Allegri now boasts of a much more versatile attack with Morata in the lineup. Thanks to Morata and Tevez’s constant movement, Allegri gets the fluidity he wished for with the absence of reference points.
More simply however, Morata, unlike Llorente, has been providing more of a threat. Scoring goals is what has gotten him in the starting-eleven, rather it just being down to his overall play being more adapted to a partnership with Tevez.
At the end of the day, that is what is expected of a No.9, and Morata will be looking to maintain his rich vein of form for the upcoming match against Roma.