In the 28th round of the Serie A Genoa welcomed Juventus at Marassi in the Sunday’s scheduled opening game. Massimiliano Allegri’s squad came to Genova with the great confidence boost after succeeding to overturn the result in the second leg against Atletico which made them proceed to the quarterfinals of Champions League. Cesare Prandelli’s boys had some issues before this game since they hadn’t won for a whole month, but they managed to overcome and outsmart Juve.
The win for Il Grifone came from their great tactics and well-organised team, especially when they were not in the possession. This tactical analysis will show you how Genoa succeeded in their idea of limiting Juventus’ manoeuvre space and how they ended the champions’ unbeaten streak.
Juventus started in the 3-5-2 formation without Cristiano Ronaldo in the squad for the match. Allegri tried to give some rest to his main players, so there were a lot of changes, mostly in the defensive line where Rugani and Caseres got their chance to play.
Genoa went into the game with the 4-4-2 formation that went through a few variations during the play. Their main force laid in the sparkling attacking duo that was made of Kouame and Sanabria. The front pairing had a lot of support from the midfield line that was held by Ivan Radovanović; the Serb played an outstanding role in controlling the match tempo and conducting his team-mates when they were off the ball.
Genoa used Atletico’s model
Prandelli’s team did a great job scouting their opponent’s weaknesses. They used the same defensive patterns that Atletico Madrid used in the first leg of the Champions League round-of-16 and that was lucrative to them. Genoa knew that their opportunities will come from the counter-attacks, so they went into the game with a lot of attention dedicated to their defensive block.
The home team tried to narrow the field for Juventus and to attack after the misplaced passes they tended to force with their good positioning. Genoa’s 4-4-2 block worked pretty well in terms of leaving Juventus’ playmakers in the difficult position when they tried to progress through the lines.
On the picture above we can see that the Red and Blues are concentrated on their good central block from which they could manipulate the situation on the field easily. They intended to create situations from which they could double-team Pjanić and other midfielders, especially when they were caught out of their position.
Those situations were basically the pressing traps Prandelli prepared in beforehand. His boys tried to make Pjanić, Can and Bentancur run to the flanks where they could get them out of their comfort zone and win the ball with the well-organised press.
Juventus have struggled to get the ball to Dybala and Mandžukić since the paths to them were closed very good by Radovanović and Rolon. They didn’t have a lot of space to get in possession, so Dybala did the exact same thing he did in the first leg against Atletico – he lowered himself and played as a fourth midfielder.
Dybala’s isolation was also orchestrated by Genoa’s coach. The home team let him get the ball at the half-way line because that disabled him to participate in the action in the final third. The lowering of the Argentinian also meant that his spot at the edge of the box will be filled with Bentancur which was less dangerous than having Juventus’ number 10 in those zones of the pitch.
Genoa’s main idea was to cut down the passing lanes to Pjanić who was marked as the key to Bianconeri’s playmaking. He was always guarded by at least two home players and isolated from getting the ball in the build-up phases of the play.
Strong transitional play won the game for Prandelli’s team
Since Genoa hugely relied on their central block in order to get to the result, most of their chances came out of a good transitional play. Prandelli’s plan was to get the full-backs in their pressing traps which manifested when they got the ball from centre-backs. This approach got them in a few great goal-scoring opportunities due to mistakes they forced Juventus to make and a good reading of the champions’ play.
The home team saw Rugani and Caseres as their opportunities to win the ball in the parts of the pitch from which they could get dangerous for Perin’s goal. They let Bonucci organise the play out of defence, but his passes to his team-mates centre-backs were used as press triggers for Il Grifone.
Juventus changed their formation in order to get better of their opponents and to be more expressive in the opposition’s half of the pitch. Bernardeschi went in for Cancelo and that meant they were going for the win with the 4-2-3-1 formation.
That changes provided width for Allegri’s squad since space was dense by the well-suited Genoa’s players. Despite that, Dybala and Pjanić weren’t positioning themselves well enough which led to them still not having room for creation and Juventus was not a great threat for Radu’s goal.
Bianconeri’s midfielders were static enough so Genoa’s players could guard them with no major difficulties. They managed to lock their opponents with just simple motioning in the block and playing responsibly.
After Genoa scored for the lead, Juventus must have gone all in to prevent losing for the first time in the Serie A this season. Their organisation fell apart and they tried to get to their chances using only individual qualities of their team.
Juventus’ issues with run-ins
Allegri’s team had big problems with the pacey Kouame and Sanabria. Bonucci and Caseres are just not getting any younger and Genoa took advantage of it. Since the home team depended on the counter-attacks out of the either central or low positioned defensive block, Bianconeri’s centre-backs were positioned high on the pitch.
That made a lot of space behind their back which was exploited by Genoa’s fast players in the attacking part of the team. Kouame often tried to pull one of his guardians deeper in the pitch when his team has had a positional attack. Him dragging the defender emptied the space behind centre-back’s back for other players to run in.
Two strikers tended to get lower or to position themselves on the flanks which confused Caseres and Rugani who were going for them even when they get outside their defending zone. That made midfield run-ins possible for Prandelli’s team and led them to a few dangerous situations in front of Juventus’ goal.
Juventus struggled to defend against Genoa’s fast attackers and that made difference for the home team. The win was secured out from the counter-attacks relying on the pace of their strikers and high positioning of Bonucci and company.
Genoa ended Juventus’ invincibles dream using Simeone’s model from the Champions League’s game at Wanda Metropolitano. Prandelli managed to get his opponents’ midfielders and defenders in the situations he wanted and that played a huge role in this unexpected win for his team. Allegri’s team looked tired from the Atleti game this Tuesday and they were surely missing the players that were rested for this match.
Lack of creativity in Juve’s midfield and a great defensive block from Genoa’s team kept the three points at the Marassi and made the champions capitulate for the first time this season in the Serie A.
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