Juventus suffered defeat in the first-leg of their UEFA Champions League tie with FC Porto on Wednesday night but thanks to Federico Chiesa, they managed to score an away goal just eight minutes from time which could prove significant.
On the night, Andrea Pirlo opted to partner Cristiano Ronaldo upfront with Dejan Kulusevski but the Swedish international’s performance was somewhat underwhelming, prompting the debate around who should play up top alongside the Portugal international.
The season so far hasn’t gone quite as Pirlo would have hoped, the club find themselves in fourth place domestically, eight points off of the leaders Inter and still have work to do if they’re going to progress in Europe’s premier competition.
Here at 90min, we decided to take a look at the options the Italian coach has at his disposal and who should regularly partner Ronaldo up top.
On the face of it, the Spaniard has had a pretty decent season. In 28 appearances, the former Real Madrid striker has scored 13 goals but he’s also been a regular provider for Juventus – registering an impressive 10 assists.
However, his last league goal came back in mid-December and given the drought the player is currently suffering from, you can understand why the boss has felt the need to try something else.
Although Kulusevski is a winger by trade, Andrea Pirlo has used him in a central striking role on multiple occasions this season and clearly believes he is capable of playing there.
The Swede has only managed three goals in the Italian top-flight this season so it’s clear that when tasked with supporting Ronaldo up front, Kulusevski has been far from prolific.
Paulo Dybala has been absent since January 11th with a ligament injury but returned to the substitutes bench for the clash with Porto.
Even when fit, he’s often found himself left out of Pirlo’s starting XI, but the Argentine tends to be more effective just off of the main centre-forward. Having said that, he is certainly capable of playing as an out and out striker having already scored just shy of 100 goals for the Turin-based club.
If the Juventus boss is to persist with playing two strikers, the natural choice would be Alvaro Morata. The 28-year-old provides a strong physical presence as well as having the best goal record of the three aforementioned players this season.
Understandably, the manager may have grown concerned by Morata’s lack of goals recently but while he has alternative options he has been trying to shoehorn into his preferred system, selecting anyone other than the Spaniard feels somewhat desperate.