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Blunted attack prevents Juventus from challenging Europe’s elite

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Carlos Tevez was supposed to be the solution for the Juventus attack, yet despite his arrival the frontline remains the weak point of a team which is has one of the strongest midfields in Europe.

Antonio Conte's team, held 2-2 at home by Galatasaray in the Champions League on Wednesday, have won Serie A for the last two seasons without a world class striker.

Instead, Conte rotated his two-man front line, picking his combinations from Fabio Quagliarella, Sebastian Giovinco, Mirko Vucinic and Alessandro Matri.

By and large, it worked. The four scored 34 Serie A goals between them last season, evenly distributed with Vucinic netting 10, Quagliarella nine, Matri eight and Giovinco seven.

All were all adept at creating space for the midfielders behind them, allowing Arturo Vidal to also net 10 goals from midfield.

However, it was felt that to launch a serious challenge for the Champions League, Juventus needed a big name to lead the attack and when Tevez became available, they snapped him up while Matri was offloaded to AC Milan.

Since his arrival, Tevez has started all but one match, scoring four goals in nine matches in all competitions, while his partners have been rotated.

It started very promisingly as Juventus thrashed Lazio 4-0 in the pre-season Supercup and beat the same opponents 4-1 in the league two weeks later with Tevez partnering Mirko Vucinic in both games.

Since then, however, the attack has gone off the boil and Juventus's total of 11 goals in the first six league games is four short of the same stage last season.

While there is no doubting Tevez's pedigree, his dominance of the attack means fewer openings for the other strikers, including Fernando Llorente, another new signing in attack.

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Giovinco, in particular, has suffered from lack of playing time and has gone off the boil.

"Carlos is doing very well in a team that has won two championships without him," Conte said before the match at Chievo Verona last week.

"He's definitely brought something new to the team... We have never been dependent on one type of player, that's not my style of football.

"Giovinco is doing a good job. He will have his chance," he added.

"When I get the feeling that Giovinco may be important from the first minute, I'll put in the starting line-up. He combines technical qualities with speed.

"Some people don't like him, but I like him very much, even if I'm not letting him play that much."

Tevez has yet to get off the mark in Europe and he was fairly easily dealt with by the Galatasaray defence in Wednesday's game when Juventus needed a controversial penalty and a Quagliarella header for their goals.

Tevez did not pull defenders wide to create space for the midfielders, instead dropping back into the middle himself on occasions to pick up the ball.

Still unbeaten this season, Juventus have taken only two points from their opening games in the Champions League and now have an uphill struggle with two matches against Real Madrid, who are already four points ahead, still to come.

"There were some individual mistakes but I will talk about this with my players when we analyse the game," Conte said.

"We should have kept the ball more. We did not play the way we are used to.

"We have to work hard now, there is not much more to say. It will be tough for us in the Champions League, and the away match against Galatasaray will probably decide who goes through."

Reuters

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