This is tactical review specifically looking at Juventus in possession.
Upon Antonio Conte’s appointment there was much made of his promise to play 4-2-4. Since then he has admitted that Juventus have played more of a fluid 4-4-2 however after closer scrutiny of this match I would say that Juventus basically lined up with a 4-2-4 but
fluctuated between 4-3-3, 3-2-1-4 when in possession moving to a 4-1-4-1 when in defence. What really stood out for me when watching Juventus, particularly in the first half, was how they seemed to have men all over the pitch and the speed at which they were able to transfer the ball from defence to attack. This was down to the fluidity that Antonio Conte’s has brought to the Old Lady. The key players that enabled Juventus to flick between systems so easily were Lichtsteiner at right back who’s lungs must of been screaming at the end of the game. When in possession he would bomb forward with the excellent Pepe tucking in as an inside forward alongside Matri with Vucinic providing width on the left. The other person who enabled much of the interplay whilst not always getting the ball was Marchisio who you would have thought at one point was acting as a withdrawn No 10. His vertical runs to pull away a centre back
or occupy a centre mid to allow the clever movements were excellent which we’ll see later.
The Magic of Pirlo
The pivotal player for Juventus is Pirlo, the whole flow of the game was dictated by the playmaker who is still one of my favourite
midfielders. Pirlo, playing deep in midfield almost acted as the so called modern CB as displayed so well by Busquets, resulting in both CBs being happy to step into the midfield to start attacks. This was mainly due to the highline the Juventus defence took to enable the whole team to push forward rather than Pirlo dropping to the 18 yard area as Busquets does for Barcelona. As highlighted by the excellent Zonal Marking Pirlo is one of a dying breed of Centre Mids that play deep and spray the ball, and with him now at the heart of Juventus they have the ability to catch teams from deep or in and around the 18 yard area. This makes it difficult for teams to know whether to push high reducing the space for Pirlo to play in, but allowing him to play balls behind the defence or to sit deep preventing this but enable him to dictate the ball in and around the area. As a result in this game Fiorentina’s defence were caught in no man’s land several times.
As shown in the two examples Fiorentina have been caught in no man’s land left with a 3 man defence due to the movement of Marchiso or the marauding runs of Lichtsteiner. Both moves centre round Pirlo drawing two players in to try and close his space at the same time Pepe has made a great diagonal run across the defence into the space left by the CB for Pirlo to play into. On the second example Pirlo while not playing the killer pass draws two CMs but this time Marchiso pulls the CB out allowing Matri to run into the opposite space for Vidal to play into.
Juventus’s Attacking Shape
What caught the eye in Juve’s attacking play was the forward movement of the RB, consequently Juventus played with a 3-2-1-4 formation with Lichtsteiner making the 4th attacker. As previously seen the ball started from Pirlo deep in midfield. Each time he
received the ball in the right side channel this would automatically see the Marchiso or Pepe pull of the defence to create space for the Lichtsteiner to receive the ball. This move was extremely successful however the end product for the cross was often too soft or inaccurate.
In the second half Juve moved to a 4-3-3 and as a result Fiorentina got into the game for the first time resulting in them scoring a great equaliser. This coincided with the Pirlo for the first time not getting on the ball and being left isolated. Where previously he acted as an anchor man of a 5 man midfield when out of possession he was the central figure of a three man midfield which became over ran.
From the 62nd minute Juve moved back to the shape in the first half with Pepe and Vucinic dropping in to make the 5 man midfield when defneding with Matri playing as a lone forward. As a result Juve started to dominate the game again and the Fiorientina forced to defend in numbers and rely on long range shots.
While Conte may insist he plays 4-4-2 for me Juve played an expansive 4-2-4 which adapted into a 3-2-1-4 through the exceptional coached movement. This is the first tiem I’ve seem Juve in action this season but I will definately be wtaching again. Forca Juve