Juventus vs Barcelona was not the dream final many neutrals were hoping for.
Many, were desperately hoping to witness the first Super Clasico, but it was not destined to be. Destiny however has come in the form of a band of diamonds-in-the-rough, known as Juventus FC. Despite not being the bookmakers choice, the Old Lady, have defied all logic and expectation, and have come within a hairs breadth of scaling the summits of European Football, once again. Their final hurdle however, comes in the form of the equally dominant Barcelona, who like their Italian counterparts, have dramatically changed their game and have earned the tag of ‘favourites’ going into the showpeice final in Berlin.
While superstars such as Pogba and Messi have grabbed headlines, it is Massimiliano Allegri and Luis Enrique who are truly at the heart of these two modern machines.
Having received a less than rapturous welcome, Allegri, in the space of 10 months, has proved all his doubters wrong.
Getting down to brass tacks from the word go, the former . Rossoneiri boss, has revamped Juventus, taking them from from pragmatic, to near perfect. Despite the roaring success of Conte’s 3-1-4-2 formation, Allegri’s reversion to a back four, has truly proved pivotal.
In orchestrating such a move, Allegri signed the old but experienced Patrice Evra from Manchester United. Despite some early, unconvincing displays, Evra’s positional awareness, wealth of European experience, and natural qualities of leadership have been pivotal to The Bianconneri’s European campaign since the turn of the year.
The Midfield Talent At Disposal Of Allegri Has Promoted Him To Play A Narrow Diamond
With a wealth of talent at midfield, Allegri’s preference for a counter-attacking midfield diamond, has paid dividends. Not only has it exemplified the quality of Juventus’ central midfield, but has also exhibited the Old Lady’s strength in depth. Players such as Pepe, Padoin, Pereyra and Ogbonna, have been vital to Allegri’s policy of rotation, that has kept the core members of the squad fresh, and more importantly, injury-free.
His relegation of Matri and Llorente, in favour of Alvaro Morata alongside Carlos Tevez has proved particularly fruitful. Juventus are now characterised by brave attacking football, as opposed to dogged defensive displays.
While Conte’s groundwork has been integral to Allegri’s success, the latter has proven that he is the better driver of the Juventus engine. Though his domestic campaign may not have been characterised with a 100 point total, or an invincible season, his Serie-A campaign has upheld the traditions that club has been based on. His objective and detached character, has however, instilled a greater sense of belief within his players to find solutions for themselves. A factor that has proved absolutely vital for Juventus so far.sLuis Enrique’s appointment did not send the Camp Nou into delirium either. His abject spells at Roma and Celta de Vigo, hadn’t inspired any sterling confidence amongst the Barca faithful, whom were looking for an injection of life and vigour into a tiring side of the same over-used tactics.
Luck wasn’t on Enrique’s side either, as the Asturian was told he had only one transfer window, in the next season and a half to make all his necessary adjustments. The likes of Ter Stegen, Bravo, Mathieu, and Rakitic weren’t the marquee singings that many felt Barca had needed. However, it was these core of players, that have proved integral for Barca in the long run.
While Real’s stars began to fall like flies at the turn of the year, Enrique’s rigorous rotation ensured they were flying on cloud nine.
Luis Enrique insisted that titles won with a a patadA?na were worthless. A patadA?n is an aimless hoof
Pivotal to Enrique’s system however, has been the use of Lionel Messi. Benching Messi for the match against Sociedad proved costly. The Argentine began doubting his manager, and Enrique was made public enemy no.1. Zubizaretta’s departure, along with Puyol exit, made Enrique’s position all the more tenuous, a sentiment testified by Jeremy Mathieu also admitted that the squad had been ‘weakened’ by these departures. Messi did not even join his players in the one training session open to the public. Enrique however, did not buckle, he changed his tactics, decided on his starting XI, and set Barcelona on course for their most dominant spell of form. Wether Messi’s brilliance was down to Enrique, is a different matter. The Argentine came out and claimed that all the reports of disagreement, were simply the media ‘throwing shit’ towards Barcelona. Though tensions might still persist, Messi is scoring, and Barcelona are winning.
Luis Enrique insisted that titles won with a a patadA?na were worthless. A patadA?n is an aimless hoof. He talked about being faithful to Barcelonaa s style. But he also insisted: a We have to evolve that idea, perfect it, improve it, so that we can surprise opponents and so that they dona t know what type of play we will use.a
Inevitably, comparisons have been drawn between him and his former teammate Pep Guardiola. Like him, Pep’s first season in management, had him win a treble and re-establish Barcelona’s dominance. However, Enrique is not cut from the same Catalan cloth. He is an Asturian, trained in Sporting Gijon’s Mareo not Barcelona’s La Masia. It is this fact however, that makes his success all the more understandable. Enrique is not Guardiola, and is not trying to be. His methods and tacts rely more on speed and orchestrated attacks rather than possession based power-plays. His team do not contain the same number of academy graduates, but are now comprised of leaders who ensure that the pressure is distributed equally, and not on the shoulders of a sole attacker.
Enrique however, harbours no illusions about his success.
“If you lose, they kill you; if you draw or win they still criticise you,a
His players now, offer nothing but sterling support for the lanky Asturian. Javier Mascherano has testified to his managers tactics.
a You have to give him credit: physically and mentally we are in very good shape, He understands the cluba s philosophy: he has really driven home the idea of pressing high,a
Enrique had admitted
a When we lose games people will say that rotations are no good, a disaster, but Ia m going to do the best that I can so that we reach the end of the season with a chance of winning every competition.a
At the end of the season, Enrique has silently architected a new style of play at Barcelona, and stands to win everything that can be won.