Juventus
    01.11.2016 12:00 - in: Champions League S

    From Lyon to Turin: Miralem Pjanic

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    As the Bianconeri get set to host Miralem Pjanic’s former club Olympique Lyonnais, Juventus.com takes a close look at the midfielder’s career so far

    Apart from being drawn into the same Champions League Group H and their relative proximity to the Italian-French border, it’s fair to say that Juventus and Olympique Lyonnais do not have an especially large amount in common.

    This year, however, both clubs can lay claim to having had Miralem Pjanic on their books. The midfielder, who joined the Bianconeri in the summer, spent three seasons with Les Gones between 2008 and 2011 – a period of rapid development for a clearly talented teenager at the time, who’d just gained a first campaign in the professional game under his belt with Ligue 1 outfit Metz.

    His switch south to Lyon in that summer of 2008 would undoubtedly broaden horizons for Pjanic, who now found himself at a side competing for league titles and looking to make their mark in Europe.

    After a season of gaining his bearings, a 19-year-old Pjanic really began to make himself an indispensable member of Lyon’s starting XI.

    Eleven goals and 13 assists combined in Ligue 1 and the Champions League during the 2009-10 campaign confirmed that the Bosnian’s elegant style crucially had a clinical, concrete end product. He also proved he was a man for the big occasion, netting against Real Madrid in the last-16 stage as Lyon ultimately reached the semi-finals.

    Pjanic speaking on 17/10/2016, the day before Lyon vs Juventus.

    While this was the furthest that he would ever go in the competition so far in his career, he continued to excel in it for his next club Roma, scoring twice and providing an assist in the Giallorossi’s 2015/16 UCL campaign.

    Pjanic’s final season in the Italian capital was also his most productive in Serie A to date. Goals (10) and assists (12) aside, he convincingly outstripped his contemporaries across the board for chances created per match (2.42), streets ahead of the average for Serie A midfielders (0.98), successful forward passes (55.58 vs. 28.58), accurate through balls (0.55 vs. 0.12) and shots on target (0.82 vs. 0.32).

    Upon securing his services this summer, Juventus knew they were signing one of the division’s best in the centre of the park and, since recovering from a knock that kept him sidelined for this term’s first two games, he has made his fair share of decisive interventions both in Italy and overseas.

    From a well-taken goal on his debut that helped his side see off Sassuolo in September to last Wednesday’s strike in the win over Sampdoria via a quite brilliant finish in the Bianconeri’s 4-0 thrashing of Dinamo Zagreb, Pjanic is the Bianconeri’s highest-scoring midfielder at present and it’s easy to see why.

    First of all, he shoots far more than other players in his position, especially in Serie A matches (1.25 shots on target compared to the league average for midfielders of 0.33) with a most impressive rate of precision (71 vs. 43 per cent).

    Moreover, he is showing that crucial knack of getting into the right areas at the right time, increasing his chances of scoring. None of the above goals were from distance or even free-kicks, as had been his trademark in previous seasons and could still prove to be with the Bianconeri too, but were the fruit of busting a gut to get forwards and deliver the goods when the opportunity presented itself.

    At the same time, Pjanic has certainly not lost a longstanding creative touch, providing four assists in total: two against Cagliari, and one apiece in the aforementioned wins over Samp and Zagreb.

    That feat against the Croatians represented the third time he had both scored and set up a goal in a single Champions League game, having done so before with Lyon and Roma.

    As Juve’s highest UCL marksman in midfield with eight career goals in the competition, his new club will be hoping he can continue to make the difference against Europe’s elite as the campaign progresses.

    So far the signs are positive.

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