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Matthew Coccoluto On January - 12 - 2012

Player Profile: Mirko Vucinic, Numbers Can Lie.

Antonio Conte has been the driving force of the Juventus revolution with his aggressive 4-3-3 formation. Essential to the attack are the wingers as not only do they offer more of a threat in the attack, they offer support for the striker as well as take attention away from the middle. Conte inherited one of his wingers in the form of Simone Pepe, but the other wing was left vacant. While Juventus pursued a number of strikers, they eventually landed Mirko Vucinic for 15 million Euros. Not only can the Montenegrin play striker but he can also play on the wing, and this is where he has made himself a regular fixture in Conte’s team. Admittedly, Mirko has struggled to find the back of the net, but, his presence on the field may do more for the team than many people realize.

Looking back at the summer transfer window it was clear that Juventus were keen to add a world class striker. Del Piero was and now is much closer to retirement or moving on, Quagliarella missed the entire second half of last season and his injury left doubts as to whether he would return as the same player, Simone Pepe is more of a utility man than a striker and Amauri, Iaquinta, and Toni are not of the quality necessary to aid a serious challenge for the Scudetto. Alessandro Matri was the only go-to goal-scorer.

First Juventus attempted to sign Sergio Aguero but after Atletico Madrid refused to budge on the signing price they turned their attention to Giuseppe Rossi where they again failed despite the Italian international’s desire to return to Italy. Only a few days after failing to sign Giuseppe Rossi did Juve announce the capture of Mirko Vucinic from AS Roma.

Often called ‘big game Mirko’, Vucinic has a reputation of scoring against the big teams. He is often remembered for some splendid displays in the Champions League including a crucial goal against Madrid in the 2007-08 season as well as a brace against Chelsea in 2008-09 to ensure top spot in the group stage. The three years prior to joining Juventus, Mirko had scored at least ten goals in the league every eason. Although he has only scored twice this season his impact is much greater than this poor return suggests.

Signing Mirko for 15 million Euros was a lot less money than Juve were willing to pay for Rossi and Aguero and at the time it appeared that Marrotta had gotten a discount on the player. During the first half of the season Mirko started 11 of the first 13 games missing one due to a suspension. Only scoring 2 goals left many fans slightly agitated. It wasn’t that he was just simply not shooting but he never seemed to get his shots on goal or just simply couldn’t finish. Although he had opportunities he wasn’t doing what fans expected of him, scoring.

Following the Cesena game on December 4, Vucinic picked up an injury and missed the next three games against Roma, Novara, and Udinese. During those three games Juve went 1-1-1, while star striker Alessandro Matri also lost his scoring boots. Not only did Matri not score, he didn’t look as threatening as he had every game prior with the Udinese game being the prime example. When Matri came on  it took him minutes to score the one and only goal of the game after he picked up the rebound on a Vucinic shot. When Vucinic was out, Matri had Estigarribia and Pepe on either side. Pepe has never scored more than 7 goals in a regular season and Estigarribia is new to the Serie A. Without Mirko, Matri isn’t the same threat. Teams can mark him tighter and restrict his influence when Vucinic isn’t there to relieve that pressure.

Anyone who doesn’t believe that Vucinic is playing well for Juventus need only look at Matri’s performance against Roma and Udinese. He had a hard time creating chances for himself and Juventus failed to win both games. It is not to say that Juventus are hopeless without Vucinic, it is just that it is easy to overlook the role Vucinic has played because of his lack of scoring. Mirko has proven to be vital to the success of Conte’s Juventus and the team is much better with him in the squad. Hopefully he can get back to scoring in the second half, but if not Matri will sure to finish what Mirko can’t.

Matthew Coccoluto

Originally from Boston now in LA. I work in production but football is my passion. I bleed black and white. Proud member of the Juventus Fan Club of Southern California. Forza Juve, Sempre Sara.

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  • Ico

    Fully agree with the writer. Mirko has never been a prolific goal scorer (other than his sensational season with Lecce back in 2005 with 19 goals when he was like 21).. Positionally speaking, Mirko is hard to define as he can play in a variety of places…although he has been utilized on the left attacking side for most of his career.
    Watching Roma play for the last couple of years, its interesting to notice how Mirko has developed traits resembling more of an attacking midfielder rather than a striker…his passes have improved tremendously, he does not hog the ball as much and most importantly, attacking plays often start with him (esp. when Totti wasnt around)…he plays a deep lying striker/attacker and usually the ball will go to him before any other attackers and then he distributes or dribbles
    his time at juve has followed this trend as hes deployed on the wing and is expected to create attacks rather than complete them…
    ive watched him play for juve this season and hes been very useful on the pitch despite only scoring 3 goals…regardless, he has accrued alot of assists…and has previously for roma

    mirko, vidal, pirlo and lichsteiner have proven to top notch acquisitions for juve…

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