Kwadwo Asamoah hasn’t quite been the unstoppable force he was at the very start of the season. The Ghanaian has looked jaded since returning from the six weeks he spent at the African Cup of Nations with Ghana. Primarily bought in during the summer so as to add depth to the Juventus midfield, keeping in mind the club would be battling on three fronts. Asamoah, though, was converted into a wing-back by Antonio Conte. And he took that role like white on rice. However, since the turn of the year, that rice has slowly become stale. Asamoah has failed to inspire any sort of threat since revisiting the side again.
His work-rate and energy allowed for a seamless transition into a wider role. Asamoah offered solidity to a position that has been troublesome for the Bianconeri. The weight of fatigue, of course, has been sighted as a possible alibi for Asamoah’s loss of form. The time spent in Africa has slowed him down, possibly causing the 24 year old to run out of the steam and he certainly does look like a spent force. With the business end of the season on the horizon and games coming thick and fast, manager Conte faces a dilemma of sorts. Asamoah’s contribution has reduced and he is, but a shadow, of the imposing force we witnessed at the start of the season.
So what’s the solution for Conte? It’s been one of the most incredible seasons for Federico Peluso on the personal front. A call up to the national side coupled with a move to the Champions, could he have asked for more? Not really. Peluso was originally hired as a replacement for Giorgio Chiellini. He faced his baptism of fire against Sampdoria, a mere few days since joining the Old Lady.
With the lack of time to settle in and to familiarize himself with his team-mates added to him playing in a role that was a bit unnatural to him, the inevitable happened. Peluso was given a torrid time by this season’s revelation, Mauro Icardi. The Argentine tormented the Italian defender all night long and the two goals that led to Juve’s downfall were sourced from Peluso’s faults. Peluso was made the scapegoat.
Since then, however, Peluso has gradually improved, not letting his harshest critics get to him. When that kind of performance could have so easily have blighted his Juventus career, it didn’t, which is a testament to his strong character and personality. Peluso has gone from strength to strength since and when he was placed in a more natural role at left wing-back, he made people take notice. The Italian International has arguably done better than Asamoah in recent weeks and has more than made a claim for a starting position on a regular basis. The only drawback to Peluso would be rather over enthusiastic approach. His propensity to dive in to tackles has accounted to foolish and needless bookings.
With the prospect of German giants Bayern Munich looming around the corner and their penchant for getting the best out of their wingers fairly evident, Conte must pick the man most in form for the task at hand. And Peluso is undoubtedly the best available option to him. The tall defender offers balance to the side as well and will compliment the attacking threat that Stephan Lichtsteiner possesses on the opposite wing. His aerial ability will be an added advantage against sides that pose a threat from set-
pieces, like Bayern themselves do. This also gives Conte the option of using Asamoah in a more central midfield slot, a place where the Ghanaian is more at home and where he did make his name. For now, Conte has a decision to make and the right one could go a long way in deciding the outcome of his side’s Champions League tie against those daunting Germans.
Guest writer – Chelston Dsouza makes his first appearance for Team SerieAWeekly