The Apache Accelerates: Analysing The Recent Form Of Carlos Tevez
A lot is said and written about Carlos Tevez. Recently I wrote this… and this… and this… and other far better writers have penned lengthy columns discussing the Juventus striker. Some laud his exceptional form since joining the Bianconeri, others lament his lack of goals in the Champions League, squarely ignoring the struggles of both the nouveau riche Manchester City or Turin’s grand Old Lady in Europe’s elite competition. Whether it is his brilliance or perceived flaws being debated, external factors rarely garner a mention; for good or bad, Carlitos seemingly always shoulders the blame or the credit.
Given that football is a team game, played out in an ever-more complex tactical landscape and by constantly improving athletes, the notion of one man making such an impact is difficult. When the player in question is not one of the all-time greats – a Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi for example – that idea becomes even more impossible to fathom. Yet, particularly for those in attacking positions, there come patches of form when the contributions of others become immaterial. A striker brimming with confidence goes on a streak of goal scoring prowess when nobody on either team can deny him, the moment the ball hits the net greeted by a feeling of routine inevitability.
With six goals in his last four appearances for La Madama, Tevez is seemingly on one of those runs and every match appears to begin with his name already on the score-sheet. Looking purely at the cold statistics, it is easy to see those numbers and think that it is simply a case of his every shot beating the ‘keeper. A quick glance paints a very different picture however, WhoScored.com noting that the 30-year-old took no fewer than seven attempts against Atalanta last weekend, finding the target with five but notching ‘only’ two goals.
Noting his tally of 23 goals in just 38 Serie A appearances, searching for what has made such a difference, why Tevez has been so prolific since joining Juventus is difficult. A reunion with Patrice Evra has seen him end a scoring drought in the Champions League, but there is more to this than simply his French team-mate from Manchester United joining the Bianconeri.
Then I found this video.
In it, La Gazzetta dello Sport captures perfectly what separates Tevez from his peers; a never-say-die attitude that spurs him to tear past a stationary defender some thirty yards from goal with the slim hope he might get to the ball first. Looking at each clip, the Argentinean has no right to be the first man there. Never the most fleet-footed of players, he is racing far taller defenders with longer strides and almost always giving them a head start, but each ends in the same manner – ‘la Juve in gol!’ as the brilliant Claudio Zuliani might joyfully declare.
The video begins with his opening goal of the match against Atalanta, showing the former Boca Juniors star receiving the ball with his back to goal some thirty yards out. Fernando Llorente and Arturo Vidal exchange passes, eventually picking out Stephan Lichtsteiner’s run into the box, but Tevez is still trailing behind the play. What unfolds as the Swiss full-back steams towards the by-line is a terrific burst of speed from his number ten, determined to maximise any opportunity that arises. Predictably, the sequence ends with just that, Daniele Baselli, Yohan Benalouane and Davide Zappacosta seemingly powerless to prevent the Juve man slotting home.
In order to prove this was more than a one-off event, Italy’s famous pink paper looks back over recent matches and uncovers more examples of what it labels ‘an excess of speed.’ Subsequent clips show the recent wins over Milan and Udinese, brief explosions of pace from Tevez leaving even renowned speedster Ignazio Abate trailing in his wake.
There is really no explanation for what lies beneath this acceleration from the Old Lady’s leading man, although the continued snubs from his beloved Argentina are surely spurring him on. Coach Gerardo Martino offered him hope of a recall, then denied him the opportunity to once again pull on the Albiceleste shirt when he named his latest squad.
Whatever the cause, fans of La Madama are certainly not complaining, championing the striker as he continues to fire them to victory after victory. Carlos Tevez only arrived last summer, but his efforts to chase down every lost cause – and seemingly scoring from each impossible situation – embody everything positive about the fabled Juventus spirit.