Talking Tactics: How Amauri Can (& Must) Get His Twenty

Posted on 21/10/2010


During this weeks “It Ain’t Over….” podcast there is quite a heated debate on the performance of Amauri & whether he is playing well or continuing last seasons poor form. Many different points were raised & some are expanded upon in greater depth here. There have been many criticisms of Amauri, & while some are completely without foundation, clearly last year he struggled.

Compared to his compatriot Felipe Melo, he has a much more difficult task to win over the tifosi. While a hardworking display merits praise for the mediano, there is a much more clear cut way to judge Amauri. Last seasons five goals are not a good enough return for the one player in the squad that will be judged solely on how many times he finds the back of the net.
When the season started, buoyed by being reunited with Gigi Delneri – his former Chievo coach – the player made a bold prediction that he would score twenty goals this season. Many scoffed, but Amauri knows that doing so is perhaps the only way he will win back the fans. It was a point he was quick to make again this week, telling SkyItalia;
“I can’t wait to recover my best form. I hope to score against Salzburg because it’s fundamental. Last year was the most difficult that I have been through in Italy. When you play for a great team, in a club with a great tradition like Juventus everyone always expects you to score goals. Now I feel better, I am aiming at 20”
So it is with this self-imposed goal in mind that his performances must be analysed. In the early rounds of the Europa League, against Shamrock Rovers & Sturm Graz, Amauri did exactly what he needed to do. He stayed very narrow & held an advanced position.
By rarely straying from this central corridor, almost mimicking the movements of David Trezeguet, he was able to showcase his talent properly. The goals, no matter the opposition, also help to disprove some criticisms of the player. The first shows he is not as slow as some people believe, & it is also a very good finish when one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Detractors will say he almost missed it, but if Del Piero scores the same goal he would be praised for its precision.
The second goal is exactly the type expected of him, a strong powerful header over two defenders. Also evident is that for all the Juve fans who believe that he complains about his team-mates & moans his way through games, those same team-mates are clearly pleased to see him scoring.

He followed this up with similar performances against Sturm Graz, with another headed goal – this time from a corner – in the away leg. He was then injured & only returned to the team as a second half substitute in the loss against Palermo. There, & also in the wins over Cagliari & Lecce, he has played in a very different manner. His general position has been much deeper, & he has also chased the ball across the pitch, a much more selfless role, but one taking him away from goal.
This was clear in the build up to the second goal against Cagliari where he chased the ball into the corner before holding it up until Pepe could provide the cross for Krasic. While of great benefit to the team, this stops him from being the man on the end of such crosses, reducing his scoring opportunities.
Some of this must be by design, Delneri asking him to be more involved in the build up, & some of it is due to the continued selection of Marchisio on the left wing. This unbalances the team as the player naturally moves inside more, meaning firstly that someone else has to chase the ball & secondly that the defence is not as stretched as it might be if faced with a more natural winger.
Obviously the Lecce game was the first after the return from International duty & as the season progresses Marchisio will feature more centrally & Martinez, Pepe & Lanzafame will fill this wide role. Hopefully this will mean more crosses & less defenders for Amauri, a situation that should see him return to his more natural game.
The first heatmap shows Amauri’s more natural (& central) role from the Sturm Graz match while the second is his performance against Lecce.
While the player is deserving of criticism for his performances in Bianconeri over the past twelve months a number of factors must also be remembered. Last season was a complete disaster, & to judge anyone on those performances is difficult. Much like the club he started brightly, with 4 goals in the first nine games & being the best player in the Week 10 demolition of Sampdoria.
Then as the team self-destructed came the unwarranted comments that will always plague players who are deemed failures. Too slow, a lack of effort, talentless. It is easy to throw-away lines like these, yet the new Italy coach saw enough in those early games to believe Amauri was deserving of the Azzurri shirt for his first game in charge.
To do so, an intelligent man like Cesare Prandelli must have wiped the players recent history from his mind & judged him solely on what he saw in those four games. If an ex-Juventus player like Prandelli can do this, perhaps the fans should also view the striker without pre-conceived notions of his ability.
If he can deliver this promise of 20 goals, perhaps only then Amauri, much like Juventus, can truly put last season behind him.
Source: Il Tifosi
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