Since re-joining Juventus from Atletico Madrid in 2020, Alvaro Morata has often been criticized for his performances. While he scored 20 goals and registered 12 assists in 44 appearances across all competition for the Bianconeri last season, Morata came under fire from many supporters and pundits alike for failing to deliver when needed, as Juventus struggled to finish fourth and barely qualified for Champions League. Despite the criticism, Juventus hierarchy showed faith in Morata and extended his loan deal for the new season.
Since the start of the season, Juventus have been struggling to put consistent performances in the Serie A. Although they have qualified for the Round of 16 in the Champions League, the Bianconeri’s form in the Serie A is way below their usual standards. They are currently placed seventh in Serie A with nine wins, four draws, and five losses in 18 matches. While he is far from being the only reason for Juventus’ poor form, Morata was yet again criticized by the fans at the end of last month after his side’s 0-1 defeat against Atalanta, a game which saw him being substituted. However, Allegri has consistently defended the striker and backed his performances, even claiming recently in the 2-0 win against Genoa that he was one of the best players on the pitch.
Following a slow start to the season, which saw him score two goals and register a further two assists, Morata, in the absence of Chiesa and Dybala, has found his scoring feat again in the recent games. Since the start of December, Morata has scored three goals in four league matches. Although he needs to perform on a more consistent basis to reward his manager’s continued faith in him, Morata’s recent form has led many to consider if he can help fire Juventus to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Let’s dive into his stats in the Champions League to gauge whether he can provide Allegri with the attacking edge in the Round of 16.
Although he has scored just two goals in five Champions League appearances this season, Morata’s attacking and creativity stats have been among the best. Morata is an intelligent forward who can drop into different areas of the pitch to create space for his supporting attackers. While he can go missing in some matches, the Spaniard’s overall involvement in the game has been underrated. Morata’s most notable attacking and creativity stats are xG per 90, shots per 90, and touches in the opponent penalty box per 90. He has averaged upward of five touches per match in the opposition box.
His ‘pass receive location’ displays the areas of the pitch where he drops to receive passes from his team. Morata consistently drops deep in his half and is adept at receiving the ball with his back turned to the goal. He is good at finding spaces and can pick out a quality pass that allows his teammates to progress the ball higher up the pitch. The above map further highlights the Spaniard’s overall involvement in his team.
In the recent matches, Allegri has deployed 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 system rather than his usual 4-4-2 system. In the 4-4-2 system, Morata was deployed on the left usually supported by Dybala on the right. However, in the recent games, Morata has been deployed in a more central role as the lead striker. Allegri’s switch in formation has coincided with Morata’s improved performances in front of the goal. His heat map displays the areas of the pitch where he is most active. As evident from his heat map, the Spaniard can be seen covering spaces in his half.
Throughout his career, Morata has been criticized for his finishing. Although, he did display a lot of improvement last season. His shot map highlights the areas from where he took his shots. The majority of his shots have been taken from inside the opposition’s penalty area, including both of his goals.
Morata has shown in the recent games that he is capable of leading the line in the absence of Juventus’s man in form, Dybala. Perhaps the recent change in formation could unfold his form in front of the goal as well. His stats indicate that his overall involvement in the game makes him an important part of Juventus’s charge in the Champions League. If he could supplement his game with improved finishing, Morata could help fire his side to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.