Ex-Italian National Team striker Luca Toni, who scored an impressive 308 goals in his career and played for a number of clubs, among them Bayern Munich, Roma and Juventus, spoke to La Gazzetta Dello Sport about the Serie-A’s three most highly rated strikers’ lack of goals in the opening three matches this season.
“I wouldn’t be too preoccupied after only three games played. It happens to everyone; it happened to me too. It’s not a problem” Toni said when asked about the strikers’ respective ducks.
“Ronaldo, Higuain and Icardi are feeling the pressure of this slightly difficult moment, because they are all strikers that are used to scoring many goals. But this moment will soon pass for each of them” Toni continued.
Ronaldo was used to scoring 40 goals a season in La Liga. Do you think the Serie A is a different story?
“This is Italy and 40 goals seems like a difficult ask to me. But he will score a lot of goals. So far, he’s had little luck and has had to acquaint himself with his new team’s tactics, but he is trying to score a goal in every conceivable fashion. And Juventus will win regardless. When he breaks his duck, it will be difficult for opposing teams to contain him, because he can score with his head, with his feet, from distance, from inside the penalty area, from the spot… He’s got an extensive goal-scoring repertoire. And he can play in a number of positions.”
Higuain is also at zero goals this season…
“A 4-3-3 formation is ideal for Higuain, as was demonstrated while he played for Napoli, when he was at the heart of all of their offensive plays. At Juventus, he had to change a little; he frequently had to share the offensive line with another attacker and consequently even hold back on his positioning a little, in order to dictate the play and provide the assist on occasion. He became more of a team player then. The movement and runs required of him where different to those during his days at Napoli. Now, at Milan, he can afford to sacrifice himself less.”
And what about the third phenomenon, Icardi; the epitome of an in-box centre forward.
“Icardi’s one of the world’s best in the last quarter of the pitch. Spalletti is clearly trying to improve his participation in the team’s build-up play. Icardi needs to help out more, but it’s also important for him to get good service from crosser’s of the ball and to have teammates who can create goal-scoring opportunities. Candreva may prove useful, as may Perisic. Nainggolan is a little more anarchic and likes to try his luck from distance; for a striker like Icardi, it’s nice to have players who like to provide assists as much as they like scoring goals.”
Can you give an example of a striker who has such players around him?
“Lazio’s Ciro Immobile is a very lucky striker. He’s got Luis Alberto, Milinkovic-Savic and last year, he had Felipe Anderson besides them too. For these players, it’s always a pleasure to place Immobile in a position to score a goal. At Bayern Munich, I felt this coming from Ribery. He’d place me in a goal-scoring position a hundred times! With Arjen Robben, it was a different story. Robben always wanted to score himself.”