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Matthew Coccoluto On February - 1 - 2012

Alessandro Matri: A Roller Coaster of a Striker

It has been an up and down season for Juventus striker Alessandro Matri. There have been times where it seems that every time he touches the ball it ends up in the back of the net while at other times there have long absences of his name on the score sheet.

When he is hot, he has been praised uncontrollably, even once being compared as the next David Trezeguet. However when he is in a slump, his critics are quick to label him as lazy, uncreative and slow.

It has not simply been the overall performance of Matri that has at times caused consternation from sections of the club’s fans. Rather, due to the importance of his role in Antonio Conte’s system, any display that is sub-par can greatly undermine the whole team’s display and this is why Juve fans can easily start to blame the team’s failings on the former Cagliari striker. In short, his position makes him prone to being the scapegoat when things are not going well.

Matri’s arrival during the second half of last season may be the only bright spot of that season where the Old Lady failed to qualify for European competition altogether. He proved something of a revelation in front of the net; he scored nine goals in 16 games for Juventus.

This season did not start as bright as he managed just one goal in the first five games. Matri eventually lost his place in the team following this dry patch as he took no part in Juventus’s round six match against Chievo.

But, he soon made a return to form as he started to find the net on a regular basis. Matri shot up the scoring charts, all the while as Juventus continued their fine form.

But, then he began to slump again, going seven games with only one goal which came from a rebound from a Mirko Vucinic shot against lowly Lecce.

However, even with his intermittent slumps, in total Matri has notched up a respectable nine goals 15 Serie A matches. With this track record he could well end up with twenty goals by the end of the season which would be an achievement not to be scoffed at.

Playing in Conte’s 4-3-3 system the responsibility of goal scoring falls heavy on the striker’s shoulders, than in a more traditional 4-4-2. Because of the winger’s position on the outside, Matri is the often left as the only player in the middle. As a result, Juventus have seen many goal scoring runs come through the center of the field rather than swinging in crosses from the side. Much of Matri’s play depends on the build-up and how the midfielders play him the ball.

As the sole forward up front, Matri is often a marked man and this lessens his effectiveness as space becomes difficult to find. This was most prevalent during Mirko Vucinic’s injury. In those two games Matri started without Mirko he was not only unable to score, the team failed to produce a win. The role of another attacking option on Matri’s game was very evident in the 2-0 win over Udinese, where Quagliarella was able to take some of the pressure away.

The good news for Juve fans is that the team has shown that they are able to win without Matri producing the goods, however there still needs to be some more help coming from someone else.

In many of the previous games that Matri didn’t score, Marchisio and Pepe had proved to be decisive. Matri is not perfect and it should be said that Conte might give the striker too much time to prove himself.

It should be expected that Matri continues on his rollercoaster ride of a season, filled with both highs and lows. When Matri scores things go well for Juve and when he doesn’t then its up to someone else. He can’t do it all, and hopefully between Quag, Del Piero, and Borriello someone will be able to fill in if he is slumping. Matri will not be this season’s top scorer in Serie A but he will still be competing with the top.

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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