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The question marks over the Bianconeri's ability to turn possession into points means Antonio Conte has a crucial selection decision to make ahead of their trip to San Siro

ANALYSIS
By Kris Voakes | Italian Football Editor

After 23 games, they remain unbeaten. Just 15 more, and they will join an elite band of history makers who have avoided defeat in an entire Serie A season. But Juventus’ quest to continue their phenomenal run in 2011-12 will face its toughest hurdle on Saturday night when the Bianconeri visit champions and league leaders AC Milan.

They take with them many statistics of which they can rightly be proud, but one which has left them exposed is their conversion rate in front of goal. The most effective unit in Italian football tends to malfunction when it gets close to the opposition net, with the inability to find the target regularly holding them back in their bid to win the Serie A title for the first time post-Calciopoli.

HOW JUVE'S STRIKERS HAVE FARED STARTING UP FRONT THIS SEASON

BORRIELLO
DEL PIERO MATRI QUAG'LA VUCINIC


STARTS
1
3
16
3
7
SHOTS
6 8
42
16
21
SHOTS ON GOAL
3
2 15 5
8
GOALS 0 0
7
2 1
% ON GOAL
50%
25% 35.7% 31.3%
38.1%
% GOALS
0% 0%
16.7% 12.5% 4.8%
* Including only those games starting as a central striker

Antonio Conte’s side have become known for the fabulously energetic pressing game, which wins them a phenomenal amount of possession in their opponents’ half of the field, yet that advantage has too often been squandered this season. Juve easily lead the league table in total shots (424) and efforts on target (152), yet sit just sixth in the list of goals scored, with 36. Even Palermo have converted more chances (38) despite their shots tally being over 100 less than Juve's at 312.

Last weekend’s 3-1 victory over Catania represented only the fifth time this term that the Old Lady have scored more than two goals in a game, despite the dominance enjoyed in the majority of their fixtures, and their four 1-1 and four 0-0 draws have almost exclusively come in games in which they have largely ruled the roost.

SHOTS
SERIE A TOTALS
GOALS
424
Juventus 36
383
Roma 37
375
Inter
34
369
Milan
48
331 Lazio 38
329
Napoli 41
So going into the big clash against Milan, it will be crucial that Conte picks a side that can make the most of the fewer chances that are likely to be on offer against one of the best defences in the league. But the stats are not entirely clear on who might best be able to lead the line for the Bianconeri.

While Mirko Vucinic has the best rate for hitting the target of those players that have started more than once when leading the line, the Montenegrin has scored only once when not playing from a left-sided attacking role. Alessandro Matri and Fabio Quagliarella both have poorer records when it comes to hitting the target, yet their scoring rates are up on Vucinic’s.

Matri’s stats also massively increase when he has a partner alongside him, with only one of his 23 efforts (4.3%) hitting the back of the net when he has started alone in the centre in a 4-3-3 or 4-1-4-1 formation. In comparison, he has a six from 19 scoring record (31.6%) when starting with either Vucinic or Quagliarella to his side.

As Conte has favoured a 3-5-2 formation in recent weeks, it appears that Matri is the man to use in just such a formation, with Quagliarella’s two goals in three starts up top making him the best candidate to join the former Cagliari man.

But whoever starts, it is clear that Juventus’ conversion rate as a team must improve, with their inability to turn dominance from the pitch into convincing victories on the scoreboard the main reason that they head to San Siro trailing the Rossoneri. Better finishing over the final 15 games will surely go a long way towards pushing Conte and his men ever closer to a Scudetto triumph.

JUVE'S STRIKE PARTNERSHIP SUCCESS RATES THIS TERM

BORRIELLO &
QUAGLIARELLA

DEL PIERO &
MATRI
DEL PIERO &
QUAGLIARELLA

STARTS
1
1
1
SHOTS
15
0
8
ON GOAL
6
0
3
GOALS 1
0
1
% ON GOAL
40%
0%
37.5%
% GOALS
6.7% 0% 12.5%
       

DEL PIERO &
VUCINIC

MATRI &
QUAGLIARELLA
MATRI &
VUCINIC

STARTS
1
1
4
SHOTS
5
8
27
ON GOAL
2
4
11
GOALS 1
2
4
% ON GOAL
40%
50%
40.7%
% GOALS
20% 20% 14.8%
       

MATRI ALONE
QUAGLIARELLA ALONE VUCINIC ALONE

STARTS
10
1
2
SHOTS
23
1
4
ON GOAL
5
0
1
GOALS 1
0
0
% ON GOAL
21.7%
0%
25%
% GOALS
4.3% 0% 0%

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