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Thursday November 22 2012
Full steam ahead for Lichtsteiner

Stephan Lichtsteiner has been left out of the Juventus side in recent weeks but, as Antonio Labbate writes, he underlined his worth in the win over Chelsea.

The fourth official’s board went up to display the No 26. And Stephan Lichtsteiner, who just moments earlier had somehow managed to escape a second yellow card for what was clearly a bookable offence on Rodrigo Palacio, was replaced by Martin Caceres. That was in minute 38 of the November 3 home defeat to Inter and was the last we saw of the Swiss Express until Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Chelsea.

In the two-and-a-half weeks between each appearance, whispers had started to circulate that all was not well between player and Coach Antonio Conte. Links with Paris Saint-Germain re-emerged after a brief summer flirt, with the transfer rumour mill suggesting that an exit as soon as January could take place.

The reality, however, was that Juventus, a side hoping to challenge in Italy and in Europe, are never going to let go of Lichtsteiner mid-season. While true that the club have Caceres and Mauricio Isla who can play in his role, the first is more of a defender than a wing-back and the Chilean is still within the early stages of his comeback following knee ligament damage.

Instead of discussing the decision to drop the 28-year-old from the games against Nordsjaelland, Pescara and Lazio, the key consideration should be the fact that he was returned to the starting XI for Juventus’ most important match of the season to date. That says more about his standing in the squad and where he features in the plans of Conte than his recent omissions.

“I don’t think that the Coach forgot about me,” the former Lazio man stated. “I was disappointed after the Inter game, but I have never had any problems with him. It annoys me when things are written about me that are simply not true. The reality is that you can’t play all of the games when you are a wing-back because it’s a role where you have to work really hard.”

Lichtsteiner was at his marauding best against Chelsea, until he ran out of breath and Juventus switched their primary focus to containment by replacing him with Caceres in the 68th minute. Before that switch, Lichtsteiner chugged up and down that right flank with lung bursting runs, causing the European champions numerous problems with his attacking forays. And he was up against the quality of Ashley Cole too.

Stephan made an instant impact in Turin last season following his €10.5m transfer from the Stadio Olimpico. Initially fielded on the right of a back-four, his attacking inclinations were one of the characteristics which allowed Conte to experiment with a new ploy – the 3-5-2.

It’s a shape which splits critics and, it seems, top tacticians. Just this week Fabio Capello insisted the formation was a 20-year backward step, that it was really a system that was masquerading as a five-man defence. Conte, meanwhile, maintains his 3-5-2 is “super offensive” and that the 4-3-3 he sometimes employed last term is more cautious.

The Russian national boss should have been forced into a re-think after watching the events at the Juventus Stadium this week. Lichtsteiner might be rash at times, he may not have the greatest technical abilities, but it is his commitment down the right as a wing-back, coupled with Kwadwo Asamoah’s on the opposite flank, that seem to give credibility to Conte’s belief over Capello’s.

Lichtsteiner is not the most important cog in the Juve set-up right now, but he is undoubtedly vital to the overall fluidity of a 3-5-2 Old Lady side that, if anything, feed off his energy and simultaneously benefit because of it.

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Have your say...
@HR2

I don't disagree with you on the fact that the mentioned players could and occasionally have been used in the wingback position. Also where Lichtsteiner used to play is of no consequence since he has been primarily used as a wingback at Juve and has excelled at it. My only point is that the players you mentioned though some are better skilled than Lichtsteiner none is performing better as wingback than he does.
on the 24th November, 2012 at 1:24pm
@JuveFanatico

Originaly Lichtsteiner is a fullback and that is where he is a top player. He's no more wingback than other players I mentioned who all played that position in 3-5-2 formation for their teams last weekend.
on the 24th November, 2012 at 11:39am
Sick of people talking about Juve fixing matches. They were punished for calling referees and telling them off plus interfering with who should be in charge of the matches. NOT matchfixing. Do you hypocrites really think your clubs are 100 % innocent? Being naive and full of prejudices is not just stupid but also being ignorant. You envy the renaissance of The Old Lady. It's like Goebbels' fans. Telling lies over and over again convince people of NON facts!
on the 24th November, 2012 at 11:20am
I think that the original Adam made a fair point! Whilst I consider Lichsteiner a good player, I don't believe that he is a great player, and that is, like Adam said, because of his end product. But then the same can be said of most wing-backs. I've lost count of the number of times that Maggio, Abate etc put in a woeful ball/cross, or exhibit poor composure/decision making-electing to shoot from an acute angle, rather than square the ball. Which wing-back has the best delivery?
on the 23rd November, 2012 at 1:56pm
Does Capello watch Juve? Juventus are far from a defensive team, and their system is very smart. It covers the pitch well in all areas. Solid in defence, extra bodies in the middle, and you have two strikers-which is a rarity these days. I believe that Capello, & coaches like Trap, that are stuck in the past. The fact that both of these undervalued Baggio says it all for me. Kudos to Lazio last night, they played really well, & Petkovic looks to be a great coach.
on the 23rd November, 2012 at 1:30pm
@HR2

Asamoah is a left midfielder or winger so shouldn't be comapred to Lichtsteiner who is a wingback, Cuadrado a fullback also can't be compared to him as their responsibilities are different, Zanetti a versatile defender or midfielder never plays the same position as Lichtsteiner though all great players & immense talent in their specific positions none can truly be compared to Lichtsteiner. Nagatomo is the only valid comparison but I will wait until the end of season to compare the stats.
on the 23rd November, 2012 at 12:39pm
I think he is a very good player- just compare him to other right backs out there and he is one the best i te world. Caceres is good but not as good, and Isla is a more advanced player but hasn't convinced me yet. keep this guy for the season, and see how well he does in the CL. If he can continue to dominate games against teams stronger than Chelsea in the CL, then I am sure no-one will want to sell him. His next big test will be Donetsk. They are a fast, skillful team, especially Willian.
on the 23rd November, 2012 at 11:06am
I recall stating last season that Lichsteiner was "one of the best" wing backs in Europe, some jeered me while a few others abused me!!! Now that he has a Scudetto under his belt and deservedly so, does anyone else agree that he has much improved this season? The way he battered "overrated" Cashley Cole the other night, merely puts the label of "best Left back in the world" to bed once and for all. Forza JUVE :-)
on the 23rd November, 2012 at 9:48am
He runs a lot, defends well and keeps his game simple - he's a solid player. But there are better players playing wingback in Serie A - like his teammate Asamoah, Cuadrado, Zanetti, Nagatomo...
on the 23rd November, 2012 at 6:14am
AA im more of a RAC kinda guy.Forza Lazio...Poor man Zambrotta this guy
on the 22nd November, 2012 at 9:23pm
1st of all, Capello doesn't know what he's talking about, clearly he hasn't watched any of Juventus's games where they play ultra offensive, I choose to not take his views into consideration. Secondly, Lichtsteiner played an amazing game against Chelsea, he constantly put Cole under pressure and Cole looked like he was thinking, "How the hell is this guy still running, Please stop" haha but jokes aside, Lichtsteiner didn't look sharp a few weeks ago, now he's back! I'm happy.
on the 22nd November, 2012 at 9:16pm
lichsteiner absolutely shut down hazard twice. he is a great defensive full back who can stretch teams....which is vital for contes side.
on the 22nd November, 2012 at 8:55pm
Be interesting to see the distance he covered, seemed always gasping for breath - played superbly with asamoah
on the 22nd November, 2012 at 8:00pm
Stephan is the first "actual" right wing/back that Juve have since 2006. What I like about him the most is that he is strong in defence, which is the most important thing in players that play in flanks.

Juve has had always struggled in defence because of the right/left backs.

His performance didn't drop from last season, but the 3-5-2 systems empties his energy out more frequently than the 4-3-3 system. He was more noticeable in it.

He's the best in Serie A nowadays.
on the 22nd November, 2012 at 7:21pm
to adam why all the hate the guy was pivotal to juventus's last year success and his attacking and defending are great oh a lazio fan thats may explain it.
on the 22nd November, 2012 at 6:25pm
A great player, I'd put him as the top right back in Europe I think he's that good. The 3-5-2 is not as good for Juve when he's not there. Isla can deputise by all means but there's only one player for that position during the big games. Put a hideously overrated Cole to shame the other night.
on the 22nd November, 2012 at 6:24pm
Stephen is right when he says that his role is hard work, on many occasions it looks like he's gasping for breath. Maybe Juve need to work more on endurance in training- Just a thought ;)
on the 22nd November, 2012 at 6:05pm
important player. needs to stay. italy needs to keep its best players and no one can say he's not one of the best full backs in serie a.

juve r really playing well as a collective team and providing they get thru to last 16, you never know where that might take them. but definitely the firm favorites for the scudetto. no other teams have really caught up. am looking at you inter and milan. but in the next couple of years i expect milan and inter to put pressure once their rebuilding is done.
on the 22nd November, 2012 at 4:57pm
Lichsteiner and Asamoah are exactly what was missing from Ferrara's reign - and have been a breath of fresh air, providing both defensive support and offensive threat simultaneously. Reminds me of Di Livio in the old days, and Zambrotta more recently.
However, I don't get pundits' classification of Caceres. His foundations were built on being a defender, yes, but he's shown a number of times now how useful he is when he gets forward and provided a great assist for Vucinic - who fluffed it again!
on the 22nd November, 2012 at 4:48pm
Litchsteiner & Asamoah was simply amazing on the wings, infact they were tormenting the defending European champions. Indeed they not perfect but as the writer said, its their commitment which prevails over their silly mistakes...

The 3-5-2 system may be 20 years old according to Capello but Juventus has perfected it...
on the 22nd November, 2012 at 4:48pm
Stephan Lichtsteiner..as a Lazio follower I was not to bothered by his departure, his final product is at times woefull, there are better wing backs than him around, wow wee he can run alot.
on the 22nd November, 2012 at 4:33pm

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