The importance of Giorgio Chiellini
Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini celebrates after Juve beat Atletico Madrid in last seasons UEFA Champions League (Getty Images/Claudio Villa)

Just last month Juventus centre-back and team captain Giorgio Chiellini went down in training with what seemed to be a serious injury. The injury was since revealed to be a rupture of his anterior cruciate ligament, which is likely to see him out of action for another 5-6 months - a hammer blow for Juve.

It has been evident thus far that the captains presence on and off the pitch is being severely missed. 

Leading by example 

The grit, determination and overall top-notch defending of the Italy and Juventus captain is missed on the pitch, but the impact he has off of it is just as crucial. 

Chiellini is a mentor to the younger Juventus and Italy players, leading by example at training or in the dressing room. New players like Matthijs de LigtMerih Demiral and Danilo are all individuals who would benefit from a mentor like Chiellini.

While he still spends time with the team at games and training, being unable to actively participate means he has less of an influence; it is not the same as having him on the pitch or training ground teaching you and motivating those around him to be at their best.

It must be said, Leonardo Bonucci has stepped up in the captain's absence by taking over some of the duties and responsibilities. The views on Bonucci from the Bianconeri faithful are definitely mixed since he left for AC Milan for a season but it cannot be denied he has been a real leader since Chiellini went down and that must be admired. 

Juve noticeably missing a presence on the pitch

The absence of captain "King KongChiellini is even more noticeable on the pitch, with Juve conceding six goals in the four games he has missed so far - three to SSC Napoli, two to Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League last week and one to Hellas Verona FC in their most recent match. 

Their only clean sheet came against ACF Fiorentina in a 0-0 draw - a stark contrast to the 14 clean sheets the club collected in the Serie A last season when Chiellini played. 

Not only is he one of the top defenders in the world but the way he organizes and maintains his defensive unit when he is on the pitch is like none other. He communicates with all his teammates including goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, which is key to the Juventus breakout.  

How do Juve fill the hole left behind?

The simple answer is that the hole he has left cannot be filled. The veteran Chiellini is able to bring a sense of calm and stability every time he steps onto the pitch.

Evidently Juve are missing his presence this season, even with Leo Bonucci raising the level of his game. If they are able to fill even a part of the gap left behind by Chiellini, it must be done by the whole team and cannot be done by only one player. 

Juve will have to start playing better as a unit to try to fill the massive void that has been left by their leader. Should the Bianconeri want to challenge for the scudetto again this season they will have to start playing much better, starting with a clean sheet in their next match which takes place on Tuesday against Brescia Calcio

At 35-years-old, the stats prove Chiellini is still clearly a vital player and leader to both Juventus. His ongoing ACL injury is likely to see him rehab for the foreseeable future, but Juve will be desperately awaiting the return of one of the best centre-backs in world football over the last decade.

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