Approaching the hour mark of their Serie A game against Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico, Juventus found themselves down 1-0 and playing with 10. As goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon having been sent off in the first half, Juventus continued to press forward, looking for the equalizer. Out of nowhere, Stephen Lichtsteiner maked a run down the right wing and sent in a crossing pass which Fernando Llorente heads in for the equalizing goal.
Llorente’s headed goal was his second in many weeks; last weekend in a 4-2 Juventus win over Sampdoria, Llorente scored a header which was of technical perfection. After a slow start to his 2013-14 season, which is understandable given he went nearly a year without playing much and had to adjust to a new system with a new team, Llorente has been the goalscorer that Juventus was hoping he would be.
In 18 league games so far, Llorente has scored nine goals and in 23 overall games, he has scored 11 goals. Not only is this good news for Juventus, who currently leads Serie A, but it is good news for the coach of the Spanish National Team, Vicente del Bosque. Entering the season, one would have considered it impossible or unimaginable to think that Llorente could be a part of the 23-man squad representing Spain at the 2014 World Cup.
Other than Alvaro Negredo and Diego Costa, there is no other Spanish striker at the moment who one can say is anywhere near as good or as productive as Llorente. The only other Spanish striker who could be a serious threat to challenging Llorente and is similar in terms of how he plays upfront is Tottenham striker Roberto Soldado,who has not had a good season with the North London club.
Llorente has done a very good job of forming a formidable strike partnership with Carlos Tevez that has seen Juventus look much more potent in attack in league play. Aside from forming a strong partnership with Tevez, Llorente has also demonstrated to be just as effective linking up with his midfielders. This is something that del Bosque, I am quite sure, is seeing and will give Llorente another check mark in his favor when it comes time for him to select his 23-man squad for the World Cup.
Given the dearth of talent in the Spain midfield, Llorente’s season would have put him in the conversation, but he would likely be considered as a player who would miss out on going to Brazil. Given that he is a striker, his play this season, and the lack of competitors for positions at that spot, it is now hard to see how Llorente is not going to represent Spain this summer, and it’s hard to think of reasons for keeping him off the squad.