Two time defending champions Real Madrid drew Juventus in the Quarterfinals of the Champions League in a rematch of last season’s final. The match is bound to be a gruelling encounter as Allegri’s men are known for their defensive prowess while Ronaldo and co are bound to be a difficult force to shut down.
Juventus are a solid defensive unit under Allegri, capable of maintaining their intensity within the block for the entire 90 minutes of a match. They are bound to take the defensive against Zidane’s men and look to hit them on the counter, something they did even against Spurs in the previous round. Chiellini is a more than capable marshal of the back line and will be tasked with maintaining the compact nature of the block. Douglas Costa will be a game changer on the breaks with his direct style and his competence in dribbling. It remains to be seen if Allegri opts to play the 4-3-3 or the 4-2-3-1 so that Paulo Dybala can be incorporated into the side. Even more intriguing would be if Allegri decides to play three at the back, which might not be a definite possibility considering that Allegri opted against it even in the Champions League final last season.
The 4-2-3-1 seems to be the more probable of the choices with Pjanic and Khedira in the pivot. Blaise Matuidi is another option to play in the centre of midfield, who is a great tactical option himself. The wingers are the key elements in this setup, acting as both defensive and offensive elements in the team setup.
Juventus show a focus in the central zones and aim to control the space, without the ball. Their counterattacking patterns change in accordance with the players on the pitch and their positioning. Juventus have an asymmetric nature to their build up in play, especially when they have Matuidi and Khedira in picture. For example, in their last match against Spurs, Juventus gradually kept opening lanes in the centre to Higuain, with runners running off him.
The Dybala factor can once again be the deciding factor for Juventus if they are to advance past this Madrid side. His lateral movement will be the key in Juventus’ attacks and buildup, with Higuain holding the line high up for the defense so that Dybala has space to roam into in between the lines and link up in the flanks.
Madrid need no introduction to what they are capable of. This season has been underwhelming for their standards, sitting in third place in La Liga. However, they made light work of PSG, who many expected to be favorites for the entire tournament. It seems that Madrid’s tactics work better against good opposition in general, teams that look to come at them. Madrid thrive off space and Juventus will look to shut shop, as Madrid generally struggle against sides that camp in a deep block. That being said, Madrid scored four goals against Juve in the final.
The crucial factor, in my opinion, is the fact that this is a two legged tie and Juventus can alter their approach and mentality for this, in comparison to a single legged knockout match like a final. Madrid will mostly be setting up in their 4-3-1-2 diamond with Isco as the #10. Isco will have the responsibility to bring the ball into the middle and final third when Juve press high up initially, along with the likes of Modric and Kroos.
Madrid will also need Varane and Ramos to be on top of their game so that they are able to shut out Higuain and Dybala in and around the box. Juventus are top notch in transitions and it is not by any means a stretch to say that Madrid have struggled in transitions this season. Zidane will likely instruct Casemiro to curb his runs into the opposition box and ensure that there is protection in the back for Madrid when Juve break on a counter.
According to W88, Madrid are among the front runners to win the Champions League and it is no surprise that this will hold onto that tag after dispatching PSG in the last round.
This is on par with the Liverpool Manchester City tie of this round, in terms of both quality on the pitch and the tactics that go with it. Real Madrid will start as favorites for this match, due to the fact that they won against the Old Lady in the final and also because they seem to turn up for the Champions League. Allegri will quietly fancy his chances against Madrid, hoping that his team can produce a defensive masterclass over the two legs just like they did against Barca last season.