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How Claudio Marchisio can salvage Juventus’ season

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fter four years of dominance in Italian football, wholesale personnel changes over the summer have taken their toll on Juventus so far in 2015-16.

Max Allegri’s men have lost influential figures such as Carlos Tevez, Andrea Pirlo, Kingsley Coman and Arturo Vidal over the off-season, with the side that powered its way to last term’s Champions League final already a distant memory.

A host of new faces have arrived at the Turin club between campaigns, which led to a slow start to the new season – but there are signs that the new-look Bianconeri are starting to click.

The effervescent Paulo Dybala has started to hit the back of the net and the trademark defensive stubbornness from seasons past also looks to have been rekindled.

However, finding the right dynamic in midfield seems like it will be the difference between a successful season and one without silverware.

The loss of Vidal and Pirlo has been especially noticeable and has robbed the Old Lady of poise and energy in the heart of their team.

Last season Allegri stepped away from the three centre-back system that worked so well for Antonio Conte and opted to resort to a back four.

A key reason behind this was the presence of four top-class midfielders, namely Pirlo, Vidal, Paul Pogba and Claudio Marchisio, with the formation change allowing the quartet to all feature when available.

Although many would suggest that the emphasis should be on French prodigy Pogba to take Juve forward after half of last season’s midfield unit departed, it has been the under-rated figure of Marchisio that has assumed a real leadership role.

Amongst the stars in the Bianconeri’s squad last season it could have been easy to overlook the Italy international, but importantly the 29-year-old’s importance to the team was clearly seen by Allegri.

Claudio MarchisioThis season, although Juventus find themselves in sixth place at the time of writing, Marchisio is yet to feature in a game where the reigning champions have been beaten.

The homegrown hero has been something of a lucky charm for his boyhood club, with the Scudetto  holders winning four of the six Serie A games he has featured in and drawing the other two.

Against AC Milan at the weekend, it was Marchisio’s influence, work-rate and range of passing that allowed the hosts to get the ascendancy in midfield.

With Sami Khedira injured, Pogba not stepping up the talisman role and others such as Hernanes or Stefano Sturaro still adjusting to the club, Marchisio’s role has been vital in getting Juve back on track.

Importantly, despite the illustrious players in the current Juventus squad or those that have made up recent successful sides, the 29-year-old remains a darling of the club’s fanbase.

Marchisio was born in Turin and has been on the club’s books for over 20 years, progressing through the youth ranks to make his first-team debut back in 2006.

He was a member of the side that helped Juventus overcome the Calciopoli scandal and be promoted back to the top tier after their enforced demotion to Serie B, with a brief loan stint at Empoli as a youngster the only sojourn from representing the Bianconeri.

Marchisio is the only member of Allegri’s current Juventus squad to be born in Turin and the only senior player to graduate from the club’s youth system.

As such, the Italy international is adored by the club’s supporters, with his name chanted by the Juventus Stadium faithful before supposedly more elite players.

The versatile midfielder has big boots to fill after summer departures and Allegri has work to do to find the right balance in the centre of the park to get the champions firmly back on track.

However, with Marchisio seemingly stepping up to the plate this season and Juventus’ deficit from top spot reduced to nine points in recent weeks, only a fool would bet against the homegrown star picking up another Scudetto with his hometown club in 2015-16.

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