Italian Champions . Juventus are currently undergoing a major reshuffle of their squad following the departures of Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Carlos Tevez to New York City FC, Bayern Munich and Boca Juniors, respectively. Juventus Manager Massimiliano Allegri earned considerable praise last season for guiding the Bianconeri to a Domestic League-Cup double as well as a European Final. After making such wholesale changes to the squad over the course of the summer, it will be interesting to see how Allegri lines up his troops for the upcoming season.
Massimiliano Allegria s Juventus will be looking to replicate their success of last season when they kick off their campaign on 23rd August against Udinese at the Juventus Stadium. However, without the services of Pirlo, Vidal and Tevez at his disposal (who formed the spine of Juventus for the past two seasons), Allegri will find it challenging to maintain the Cluba s domestic dominance as well as launch a renewed quest for European glory.
Juventus fans have seen the arrival of a whole host of new names to Turin this summer. The arrival of German Midfielder Sami Khedira on a free transfer from Real Madrid is a major coup for the Italian Champions. Apart from being an ace interceptor and a tenacious tackler, the German World Cup winner has the ability to provide perfectly timed assists and deliver precise set pieces. He will be expected to partially fill the massive void in central midfield left by the departure of the flamboyant Andrea Pirlo and the hard-tackling Arturo Vidal.
Soon after, Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic signed for Juventus on a four year deal worth a 19 million from Club Atletico de Madrid. Mandzukic, a proven marksman who has scored tonnes of goals in Germany and Spain, will be leading the line for Juventus. He is an excellent target man up top who can hold the ball well, is good with both feet and is terrific in the air. He will have the unenviable task of filling the shoes of former striker Carlos Tevez who was absolutely adored by the Bianconeri faithful.
Paulo Dybala and Simone Zaza are the other two players who have joined Juventus this summer. Dybala is a highly rated Argentine forward who was signed from Palermo for a whopping a 32 million. He was mostly deployed by former Manager Giuseppe Lachini as a support striker or an inverted winger. a Armed with a magical left foot that has scored all manner of goals this term, Dybalaa s sensational combination of athleticism, skill and versatility has seen him help the newly-promoted side [Palermo] climb into eighth place above more established clubs like Milan and Intera wrote beIN Sports Journalist Adam Digby.
Simone Zaza, another left footed forward, was signed from Serie A newcomers Sassuolo for a 18 million as part of a buy back agreement with Juventus. Zazaa s impressive tally of 10 goals was invaluable to Sassuoloa s ambition of staying in the Italian top flight for atleast another year. He is strong, quick footed and has a keen eye for goal.
Allegria s Favoured Formation
In the first half of the 2014-15 Serie A season, Allegri continued to deploy Antonio Contea s favoured 3-4-3 or 3-1-4-2 formation for the sake of continuity. The defining characteristic of Contea s Juventus was the deployment of 2 wing backs bombing down the flanks with Pirlo operating in central midfield as the Regista or the deep lying playmaker. While Contea s Juve continued to dominate Serie A on the back of its high pressing counter attacking style of football, they struggled to replicate this form in Europe against tactically superior outfits. Furthermore, when Pirlo succumbed to injury in the middle of last season, Allegri struggled to fill in the Regista position with an adequate replacement. Without Pirloa s magical ability to spray pin point diagonal balls forward, Juventus found it difficult to turn defence into attack which nullified their counter attacking style of football.
As a result of this, Allegri switched to his more favoured 4-3-1-2 or 4-4-1-1 formation in November as they thrashed Parma 7-0. This formation employs a traditional back 4, with a diamond in the middle and two strikers up top. With this formation, Juventus could seamlessly move the ball from defence to attack using their dynamic midfield runners Vidal and Pogba while Marchisio orchestrated play from a much deeper role without having to play long balls forward.
Even after the return of Pirlo from injury, Allegri continued to deploy this formation to great effect. He positioned Pirlo to the base of the midfield diamond leaving Vidal and Pogba to alternate between defence and attack. Marchisio operated either on the left or the right side of the diamond as the midfield metronome.
Fitting the new signings into Allegria s Diamond Formation
It will be interesting to see how Allegri deploys his impressive armoury of strikers (Llorente, Morata, Dybala, Mandzukic and Zaza) into his playing eleven. Fernando Llorente is rumoured to be on his way out of Juventus with several reports linking him to a move to the England.
In their 2-0 loss to Borussia Dortmund on 25th July in a pre-season friendly, Allegri deployed Mandzukic up top with Morata playing in a slightly withdrawn role on the left. Morata will be expected to do the all the running in the channels behind and beyond Mandzukic, playing a role similar to what Carlos Tevez did in his time at Juventus. The Morata-Mandzukic partnership up top will be crucial to Juventusa success this season.
In the midfield, Sami Khedira is expected to occupy the position vacated by Pirlo in the base of the midfield diamond. Although Khedira has the ability to create, his primary responsibility will be to destroy attacks and feed the ball into forward midfield players by linking up play. Many feel that Pogba will occupy the role vacated by Vidal as the furthest forward player in the midfield diamond. His dribbling, creating, shooting and box to box running ability make him a vital cog in the Juventus wheel. The remaining 2 slots in midfield are expected to be occupied by Claudio Marchisio and one out of Sturaro, Padoin or Perreyra.
With the presence of several attacking forwards in his squad, Allegri may also be tempted to deploy an attacking 4-3-3 formation if the need arises, with Marchisio, Pogba and Khedira occupying the 3 midfield births and Mandzukic, Morata and Dybala/Zaza occupying the front 3 slots.
Massimiliano Allegria s biggest challenge will be to integrate the Bianconeria s new signings into his favoured formation. His decision to switch formations in the middle of last season paid rich dividends as Juventus went on to win the domestic double and reach the European Cup Final in spectacular fashion. Allegria s tactical astuteness will be instrumental if Juventus are to replicate their success of last season, a feat which would undoubtedly cement his legacy in gold.