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Thursday September 19 2013
Trust Conte with Llorente

Fernando Llorente continues to controversially sit on the Juventus bench, but Antonio Labbate thinks there should be more faith in the decisions of boss Antonio Conte.

Fernando Llorente got up off the bench and started his warm-up. The plucky Danes, aided by an inspired goalkeeper and some sloppy finishing, were becoming annoyingly resilient. Fabio Quagliarella had equalised to get Juventus back into the tie, but settling for a point at the start of a Champions League campaign against a side of the meagre calibre of FC Copenhagen was never an option for the Italians.

After 76 minutes of seeing Quagliarella and Carlos Tevez struggle to give the Old Lady an advantage that their play deserved, boss Antonio Conte opted for a change. The stage – according to more than one report on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning – was set for Llorente to come on and save the day, an imposing centre-forward who could get physical in the box. Instead, the 44-year-old opted to replace Quagliarella with the little Sebastian Giovinco.

“I made some players warm up, including Llorente and Giovinco, as I wanted to see how the game was going to develop,” Conte stated after the tie ended 1-1. “Against a side with players who are strong in the air but slow, it would be stupid to play with tall forwards. Tevez, Quagliarella and Giovinco gave them the most problems, as they are shorter and quicker.”

It was a reasonable explanation from the former midfielder, or at least it should have been. But when a tactical switch is made that doesn’t produce the desired effects then a Coach, no matter who he is, will be questioned. And by ignoring Llorente, Conte inevitably made sure that the big Spaniard would again be making the headlines after another snub.

Juventus announced the Bosman free signing of the 28-year-old in January, six months before his arrival. An international striker, he bagged 85 goals in 262 League games for Athletic Bilbao. He may not have been the top player in attack who Juve were looking for, but he was clearly a forward who could be useful to the cause over the course of a long, hard season.

Llorente, however, arrived in Turin after a problematic campaign. His refusal to sign a new contract in Bilbao saw him marginalised from the first team. Without regular action, the Lion King inevitably lost his roar.

Expectations in Italy, however, were still high. And following the later capture of Tevez from Manchester City, Juventus would supposedly start the term with a front two of the Spaniard and the Argentine. Pre-season experiments certainly suggested as much, with Mirko Vucinic – a better player than Fernando but without his eye for goal – relegated to first reserve. By the time the season proper got underway, Vucinic was back in the team and Llorente was out.

“Juventus was the best decision for me,” Llorente said in August. “But I need to adapt and it will take time. The Coach uses me as an attacker in his 3-5-2, so I will need to improve my movement and understanding with my teammates. I need to do things which I haven’t done in the past, but things will improve. I am doing all that is possible to integrate myself into the team’s way of playing.”

In five official games so far this season, Llorente has been used just once – as an 89th minute substitute in the Week 1 win over Sampdoria. Those are stats which fuel the Caso Llorente stories, ones which predictably talk about a quick move away – either in January or at the end of the season.

The official club line is rather different. “I can categorically deny any problem,” stated director general Beppe Marotta who, according to Gazzetta salary figures, handed him a deal worth €3.5m a season. “We signed a player on a free transfer after carefully evaluating his qualities. Don’t forget that he basically hasn’t played for a year and he needs time. We’ve signed him on a four-year deal because we believe in him and we will wait for him.”

Conte too, prior to the Copenhagen game, asked for patience. “He’s just getting back after a year out and I need to play him when he can shine. I can’t put him on the field of play if he isn’t in a position to give his maximum just to keep the journalists happy.”

In response to the soundbites from Turin are media whispers that Conte doesn’t think the Spaniard can fit into his way of football, which requires a certain mobility in his forwards, or that he didn’t want the player in the first place. Such accusations are yet to be confirmed, especially as they prematurely come in the month of September.

The only certainty right now is that it is too soon to call time on Llorente’s spell with Juventus. He might not have yet convinced Conte, but ‘yet’ is the key word. If the Coach truly felt he had no need for the forward, then he’s shown with Reto Ziegler that he would have no hesitation in telling the club so.

The most striking feature though in this whole Llorente affair is that the decision making of Conte is being questioned. After taking a side who finished seventh in consecutive seasons to winning back-to-back titles, it’s pretty safe to say that Antonio knows how to judge a player. Don’t forget, it wasn’t too long ago when La Signora would take to the field of play with Christian Poulsen, Tiago and Amauri in their ranks.

After returning the Old Lady to their rightful place where their history suggests they deserve to be, there has to be a trust in a Coach who bleeds black and white. He makes decisions in the interests of winning a game, not to pamper to the club’s summer transfer campaign as the recent examples of Ziegler and Eljero Elia testify. If Llorente wants a game there is only one way of getting one – to impress on the training field. And as Conte sees him on a daily basis, it’s only right that the ultimate decision is left to him.

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Have your say...
Problme with Juve are the winger, not the stricker. Asamowah, Lichsteine and Isla are all under par. They are supposed to make crosses, and when that it not happening pirlo, pogba and vidal use the droping ball. Against teams who pack he box with 8 players marking the forward vidal and marchisio find more space to come from behind. Asamoh only assist this seaon and last season were not crosses but rather bulldozing his way behind the defense. That cannot happen all the time with all defenders.
on the 24th September, 2013 at 4:16pm
If he can help d defense,good. But if in d same time, if he can't do more on d attack,it's logical if coach don't use him.
He's an attacker.

As d opponent is:
*strong in the air (this means not just 1player of em)
*weak on speed

Why bothersending 1tall guy to fight 4 tall defense
When u already see that d short guys caused em more problem.
Hit their weaknes. And conte has done it.
It's just luck n good goalie that stop juve in this game.
on the 24th September, 2013 at 3:41am
I totally disagree with his option to put gio, if copenhagen strong on air, then he should put llorente when he can also help on defence. Where would be gio during corner kick against juve? would he standing tall against these giants?

Assuming that llorente cant do anything on air against the danes its just wrong.

If he could took the risk to played ogbonna which cost juve a goal down, why wouldn't he took the chances to play llorente?

I predict llorente will play this weekend.
on the 21st September, 2013 at 2:25am
@Dennis

I agree, conte struggles to get the best out of his strikers.
As for Liorenti, Conte makes excuses based on the game. Against Inter and before he said its fitness issue. Than against Copenhagen he came up with a new excuse that the defenders are tall so what's the point. He's flip flopping.
Having said that i assume he's fit and should play against Verona cos theirs no tall defenders unless Conte goes back again to say its fitness.

So let's see come Sunday...
on the 20th September, 2013 at 2:49pm
Conte is good in all aspects apart from bringing out the best in strikers. Anelka,DP,Bendtner,Giovinco,Tevez, Llorente,Vucinic,Toni,Quags,Matri all have varying pedigrees but have 1 thing in common, they do not score under Conte. It is a nonsense that Vidal is Juventus' leading scorer with just 7 goals in 50 games for Chile. Conte has a problem with strikers despite their quality. Messi and Ronaldo would struggle to score under his tactics. Isla, De Ceg n Peluso given chances but not Llorente
on the 20th September, 2013 at 1:28pm
@ El Hustini
85 goals in 262 games is actually not a good record for a striker. How can you compare Llorente to Trezeguet? David has scored 138 goals in 245 games while playing at Juve and he was a world class player.
I do not say that Llorente doesn't have the chance to succeed but he has to prove himself first.
on the 20th September, 2013 at 9:35am
Personally in my opinion juve will get rid come January. Marotta and co are making excuses up I.e hadn't played for a year etc, load of rubbish simple fact is conte doesn't rate him and doesn't fit into his plans. If he did why is conte going for traore from anzi???
on the 20th September, 2013 at 9:16am
Llorente is a good striker but sadly in La Liga only. When was the last time that a Spaniard had success in Serie A? None as I recall. Beppe should've tried to sign Suarez & sold Giovinco !
on the 20th September, 2013 at 4:04am
Tevez is a proven striker, we don't see him tearing up the score sheet 3-5-2 is tough on strikers and good at preventing goals, Lorente and tevez are just starting to figure this out, we see more goals coming from the Juve midfield due to them chipping in the on the attack while defenders can clamp down on our two strikers, few would excel with this system up front for us! Conte knows strikers need time to figure out this formation, give lorente time he will need it and lots of luck!
on the 19th September, 2013 at 9:42pm
The season has just begun, i don't see why everyone is making such a big deal about Llorente. Even though i was never really impressed with him i'm willing to give him time and hope he proves me wrong. Any blogs regarding Llorente are about 5 months too early and i don't see why we need to concentrate on Juve and their squad in every other blog. You should write about Napoli, Fiorentina, Roma, Lazio, to name a few. After all the league consists of 20 Serie A clubs.
on the 19th September, 2013 at 9:29pm
Conte doesn't have a Plan B thats his problem, he is a great coach and has done wonders for us but when things aren't going well he is always making like for like subs, the Wingbacks against Copenhagen were not the problem so why replace them like for like, why not take one of the central defenders for the last 10 minutes and stick on Llorente as the focal point.
on the 19th September, 2013 at 9:22pm
Maybe he does need time, however he doesn't have a lot of time. He's got a 4 year contract, if he does't perform this season that's 25% of no productivity. He's done pre-season and has been with the team for a number of months, if he has a good level of footballing intelligence then adapting shouldn't be a major problem. But maybe that is the problem.
on the 19th September, 2013 at 7:13pm
what's the hype with Vucinic by the way he only score 2 goals last season. Juve needs more a striker like Llorente. Juve were crossing balls like crazy and won so many corners a Player like Llorente was needed more that the flop Giovinco.
on the 19th September, 2013 at 3:49pm
Llorente actually played 26 games last season and trained for 2 months with Juve so stop saying he was out for a year.
on the 19th September, 2013 at 3:43pm
i think the conta should try him in a full match n make his leg worm up a little ..... thanks
on the 19th September, 2013 at 3:44pm
85 goals in 262 games..lets all say it together. "85 goals in 262 games". Fools. When was the last time we had a striker that had that kind of record? Trezeguet...I couldn't stand the likes of Amauri, Iaquinta, Matri, etc taking up spots on the roster but we finally have a goal scorer who needs time getting his tactics right and his game legs ready. You people all want something NOW yet don't take into consideration the choices the coach needs to make. Give him time...sheesh
on the 19th September, 2013 at 2:35pm
I think the question I have is whether or not Conte wanted Llorente. He's a very good player - but he doesn't fit Juve's style of play at all, and his physical qualities do not really lend to it. He would only be useful in the back-up formation of 4-3-3 where he'd have wingers to feed him crosses. But Conte never got those wingers in the summer. With the 3-5-2 I'd say, besides Tevez - Vuc, Quags, and Seba are all ahead of him. Unless we play opposition that have short defenders?
on the 19th September, 2013 at 2:25pm
Llorente is a professional football player.....how much time does he need to "adapt" ?? Is the ball round in Spain ?? Do they play on the same sized field with the same rules ??? Has he had an entire summer training for the season ?? How can he not be ready ?? All these * excuses, the fact of the matter is this guy isn't that good, and should have NEVER been signed. We should have just kept Matri
on the 19th September, 2013 at 1:15pm
Conte is correct. I saw much of Llorente in pre-season friendlies in the USA, and he was awful. He was always the worst player on the pitch. But, Llorente can come good. It is true that he has not played for a year, and that he must adapt to a new country and new style of play. This takes time, and I don't mean 2 months. Perhaps by December we can see the real Llorente.
on the 19th September, 2013 at 12:23pm
Giovinco should have been sold years ago. He is not good enough for juve. He WAS a promising young player. But he's no longer young. He has either never fullfilled his potential or everyone just overestimated him.... Aside from being too small and having no balance (odd for one with a low centre of gravity), he is just far too timid on the field.
on the 19th September, 2013 at 10:24am
You are all deceptive with Llorente hype.

Did you think he would have save the match against the Danes ? You're wrong.

Llorente is an average striker and nothing more. Being Spanish and having 36 million don't make a good striker.

He has nothing more to offer than Bendtner did (But I hope he proves me wrong).

Besides, Conte doesn't have to explain his decisions. He's the coach and can do whatever he wants.

On another side, I believe Quagliarella will break into the first team, hopefully.
on the 19th September, 2013 at 9:54am
Give time a chance to run its course.
Whats the rush?
Whats all the media attention?
Juventus is a squad, not about a single player.
If he does well then it will have been a good choice by Conte, if he does badly so be it.
on the 19th September, 2013 at 9:51am
Yes there 11 line up is better than five years ago but De Ceglie, Isla and Peluso are no better than Poulsen, Amauri and Tiago.
on the 19th September, 2013 at 9:51am
Llorente will come good he just needs time. Juve need patience but they also need him sooner rather than later. He is a top player. Quagliarella should be in Prandellis squad. He is a top player and very underated. Would love him called up for October qualifiers. So far a good week for our teams. Juve will come good, a poor result but I am still confident they will do very well this year in Europe. Now we need the viola and Lazio to have a really good go at winning Europa league this year.
on the 19th September, 2013 at 9:50am
I think Conte should take some flak here. In my opinion, he has not managed his strikers well over his two full seasons. There is too much rotation and the idea that he selects purely based on the opposition does not sit well with me. These guys need rhythm and confidence. Almost all his strikers over the past two years have worse numbers than they did before they joined Juve. Give Llorente a chance or watch him leave and re-capture his form.
on the 19th September, 2013 at 9:16am

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