Giving more importance to the tactics of this beautiful game is the main motive of this website and in doing so, it is important to give full credits to the best club which has performed exceptionally well including tactics and all aspects of the game throughout the whole season on a consistent basis. This piece is about Juventus whom we think is the best Serie A Club of the Year for the season 2016/17.
The most affected team in the Calciopoli scandal a decade ago, Juventus have now become one of the best teams in Europe now. Rejuvenating themselves under the former Italian and current Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, the Bianconeri have been hugely successful under Max Allegri. When Antonio left Juventus, Juventus were strong and had a great side in their ranks. They were quite brilliant in their 3-5-2 and things went well for the team from Turin.
When Allegri took over, many gave the expression that the man had inherited a Champion team from his predecessor and he had nothing to improve in the side. But he proved his doubters wrong. Max Allegri saw key players leave under his regime. He had to deal all these aspects within the team and in his first season he eclipsed expectations by reaching the Champions League Finals.
Cometh the next campaign, the initial part of the season saw key players leave and injuries to senior pros. But the Italian was again able to get the best out of his team deploying a different set up when needed, in the likes of a 4-3-3 formation. The campaign was once again successful as the club was able to win a record second consecutive domestic double though the Champions League dream once again ended but this time at the hands of their German counterparts Bayern Munich in the round of 16.
Allegri was often praised for his performances in the country but it wasn’t that much sound when it came to European level. When praising about how he makes his team achieve success on a consistent basis, there have always been talks which brush off the plaudits stating that he inherited a team that were already Champions developed by current Chelsea boss Antonio Conte and were always bound to win. But one has to accept that the current Juventus side is better than the one managed by Conte as they have achieved greater success.
Tactics over the season
Pogba left for the famous world record transfer and there was a huge void to be filled due to his departure. Miralem Pjanic was signed to fill Pogba’s shoes in the attacking phase which though was a huge ask. This required other players to contribute more in terms of going forward and henceforth Allegri signed the previous season’s top scorer Higuain from Napoli.
The Traditional Back Three
With the players at his helm, Allegri started his team with the much celebrated 3-5-2 formation in their first match of the campaign against Fiorentina. The BBC started at the back as Sandro and Alves started at the wide areas. Dybala and Mandzukic were deployed up top and interestingly Asamoah joined Khedira and Lemina in the centre of the midfield. Asamoah tucked into the left of the three, who would go on to be deployed at the left wing back/full back at most occasions in the future.
The same formation was played in the first few games of the season with some squad rotation. In certain instances, Lichtsteiner would start as the right wing back with Evra on the other flank. Going forward, the attacking duo always was formed by either Mandzukic or Dybala along with Higuain. Higuain was often supported by one of the two and in some games both Mandzukic and Dybala started especially during the initial stages of the season when Higuain was new to the camp.
Made using TacticalPad
1st game of the season: Juventus 2-1 Fiorentina (20 Aug 2016)
Allegri’s approach in the attacking phase was based on the orientation of wing play. Alves and Sandro were often seen bombing up forward to join the attacks and create overloads in the wings. However this system was on the verge of getting exploited as Juventus failed to dominate in the victories over Lazio, Fiorentina and quite a few notable teams.
There were calls for changes to be made by Allegri should he sustain the success in the league. The games in which the 3-5-2 was employed, they lacked creativity and the opposition was easily able to counter the tactics by deploying wingers who could occupy Juventus’ wing backs and cause havoc by creating 2v1s in the wings.
By early November Allegri realised that his team was lacking the much needed control in games and was not able to dominate like how they used to. This made Allegri to tweak his side in order to achieve the control during the game. He changed his side to a back four as he has done in the previous seasons where his 4-3-3 was quite brilliant in Italy and Europe when the midfield consisting of Pirlo, Pogba and Vidal looked vibrant.
With all the above mentioned players gone, Allegri had to replace them with Pjanic, Lemina, Sturaro and Hernanes with Marchisio still on the sidelines. Allegri implemented the 4-3-3 and the 4-3-1-2 in tandem. The below two images shows the arrangements made by him to change the setup to these formations accordingly. The two wide forward players proved to be imminent in this system as he deployed an inverted winger in Mandzukic and a conventional winger in Cuadrado. The role of Mandzukic is very important in these systems as his defensive work rate and movements off the ball in attacking phases have paved the ways for others to thrive in front of goal.
Juventus 1-1 Lyon (02 Nov 2016)
Made using TacticalPad
Chievo 1-2 Juventus (06 Nov 2016)
The 4-2-3-1 hybrid and its success
Though changing the system saw the team bring control to their game play and dominate their opponents, Allegri wanted the team to be more creative and create more threat during their purchases going forward. His aim was to play all of his most attacking players such as Pjanic, Cuadrado, Mandzukic, Dybala and Higuain in the same side. And he did that during late January in their 2-0 win over Lazio.
This season Allegri has been praised a lot for showing the courage to change his system from the much celebrated 3-5-2 to 4-2-3-1. This system enables him to play all of his attacking players and also achieve solidity in wide defensive areas, which was a major problem in the 3-5-2, by deploying the full backs.
Juventus 2-0 Lazio (22 Jan 2017)
It was after the 2-1 defeat at the hands of La Viola, Allegri decided to change his system which proved to be a perfect marriage. The system sees Higuain play the role as the lone striker with three creative players behind him in Cuadrado, Dybala and Mandzukic. Cuadrado plays as a conventional winger whilst Madzukic is given the role of an inverted winger. Dybala plays behind Higuain who is supported by the double pivot behind him – Khedira and Pjanic.
During the defensive phase, Juventus tend to defend in two banks of four. The two wide midfielders Cuadrado and Mandzukic drop deep to help out the double pivot and they form a 4-4-1-1 shape during their defense. This has been customary of Juventus irrespective of their overall shape as they tend to defend the same way whilst playing the 3-5-2, 4-3-1-2 and the 4-3-3. This helps them to be solid and arrive at danger zones to close down the oppositions very quickly.
On the other hand, in the attacking phase the two wingers play a huge role in creating chances for their teammates. They tend to create 2v1s in the wide areas with either Cuadrado making his swift runs with Lichtsteiner/Alves behind him in the right flank or Mandzukic holding up the ball allowing the full back and the playmaker to create an overload in the left flank.
This term there has been a drop in the number of goals scored by Higuain but his ability to find space for the men behind him has been evidently amazing. His movements allow Dybala to get into the danger zone and score from the centre of the box and it was seen in the game against Barcelona in the Champions League Quarterfinals.
On the bright side, it seems that Juventus have proved to the world how consistent they are in this part of the continent. Allegri has been able to get the right balance in his side by making the right changes at the perfect time and mainly achieve the stability between the 3-5-2 and 4-2-3-1 hybrid during the middle of the game. His main idea to play the 4-2-3-1 is to place all his attacking players in the field and his players have responded their manager with brilliant performances.
Though failing to win the Champions League after reaching the finals for the second time in three years would be tough for the Juventus fans, they can cherish that their players have given their best and have won the League double under Allegri for the third time consecutively. This Juventus team have given us the opportunity to even state that the current Juventus side is better than the one he inherited from Antonio Conte.
The Champions League medal would have been befitting of this team but it just was not to be so as they lost against Real Madrid. However, as far as the Serie A was concerned, Juventus were shoulders and above the rest of the teams from a tactical standpoint. With all the factors considered from the previous season, Juventus FC is Football Bloody Hell’s Serie A Club of Year 2016/17.