Maurizio Sarri took the helm at Stamford Bridge in July of 2018. Despite what some could describe as a roller coaster of a season, “Mister 33” lead Chelsea to an unexpected third-place finish in the Premier League and a Europa League title over London rivals Arsenal. Sarri’s relatively successful stint in England could be short-lived however as Italian giants Juventus look to fill their vacant manager role with the former Napoli boss.

So who could be most fit for the demanding job at Chelsea? The man who will be leaving Juventus of course, Massimiliano Allegri. This tactical analysis will dive into how Allegri could fair at Stamford Bridge.

Sarri’s fellow countrymen would be the third consecutive Italian head coach for the Blues. Following the footsteps of Antonio Conte and now Maurizio Sarri. Allegri would be a high-profile appointment also in line with former Chelsea managers. Winning a Coppa Nazionale and league title at AC Milan, and of course, accumulating five Italian league titles at Juventus. During his time at Juventus, he was also a staple among Europe’s finest, with the club featuring in two Champions League finals under his tenure.

Similarities in tactics and shapes

Massimiliano Allegri isn’t married to one formation or system. He is incredibly versatile tactically and has made his Juventus side very dynamic. Often adapting his shape and tactics to get the best out of the personnel available to him or to counter the opposition. Through tactical analysis, some of his more common shapes are the 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3 and variations of three at the back formations. These are all in line with the last three Chelsea managers so it wouldn’t be a big transition for Chelsea players.

Premier League 2019 Tactical Analysis: Massimiliano Allegri
The 4-3-3 (left) and 4-2-3-1 (right), two shapes Allegri has been very successful with that Chelsea players can be familiar with.

Out of possession, Allegri has his team retreat into a compact 4-4-2 or 4-5-1. Allegri doesn’t want his team to press aggressively. One philosophy of the Italian’s is that shape is more important than regaining possession. Juventus sat deep and with a compact midfield line, only allowing the front two forwards to press the opposition. Maurizio Sarri at times has also implemented a 4-4-2 shape out of possession with a compact midfield line and pressing forwards.

Europa League 2018/19 Tactical Analysis: Chelsea vs. Arsenal
Chelsea in a 4-4-2 shape out of possession, with two pressing forwards and a compact midfield line.
UEFA Champions League 2018/19 Tactical Analysis: Juventus vs. Ajax
Juventus’ 4-4-2 out of possession vs Ajax (H).

Ball-playing centre-backs 

A ball playing centre back has been essential to Juventus’ play in possession.  Allegri at Juventus was spoiled for options in the centre back position with Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonnuci, Daniele Rugani, and Andrea Barzagli. World class defenders who also were very skilled on the ball. Center backs would be tasked with carrying the ball into space and opening passing lanes.

UEFA Champions League 2018/19 Tactical Analysis: Juventus vs Atletico Madrid
Center back Giorgio Chiellini carries the ball into the midfield. This pushes Atletico deeper into their own half and opens up multiple passing options

In the Chelsea squad, there are multiple defenders who are competent on the ball. Brazilian David Luiz specifically shined in this role under Antonio Conte during Chelsea’s 2016/17 Premier League victory.

Premier League 2019 Tactical Analysis: Massimiliano Allegri
David Luiz’s passing statistics compared to Juventus’ right-sided centre back Leonardo Bonnuci. (Via WhoScored)

Under Sarri centre backs were certainly challenged to improve their capabilities on the ball and defenders Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen particularly glowed in their abilities on the ball.

Premier League 2019 Tactical Analysis: Massimiliano Allegri
Andreas Christensen all forward passes vs. Arsenal (Via @StatsZone)

The Regista

Deep-lying playmakers Miralem Pjanic of Juventus and Jorginho of Chelsea have played in similar systems with similar duties under their Italian managers. Both operating in the base of the midfield. Tasked with assisting buildup at back and finding passes in between the lines. No player completed more passes in the Premier League this season than Jorginho. However, one difference between Jorginho and Pjanic’s play is how their managers use them in ball progression.

Premier League 2019 Tactical Analysis: Massimiliano Allegri
Miralem Pjanic (left) vs. Jorginho (right).

Massimiliano Allegri would enjoy having a player like this at his disposal allowing for his signature quick switches of play from one side to another from his deepest midfielder be highly effective.

Callum Hudson-Odoi

In terms of going forward, Massimiliano Allegri has preferred athletic and dynamic forwards. He enjoys creating overloads and isolating the opposition fullback. This means out-wide, particularly he likes players that are good in 1v1 situations. At Juventus, he had players such as Douglas Costa, Juan Cuadrado and of course Cristiano Ronaldo who all reap the benefits from this philosophy.

In London, there are players in the squad who currently fit the mould. None more than Callum Hudson-Odoi. He’s a young, skilful winger who is set to take Stamford Bridge by storm. The teenager made his England debut in March 2019 at the age of 18.

Odoi has proved to be very effective in wide areas. He averages 2.2 successful dribbles per game in all competitions and is only dispossessed 0.7 times per game in the Premier League. His European League performances have been a particular highlight racking up four goals and two assists in four starts.

FA Cup 2018/19 Tactical Analysis: Chelsea vs. Nottingham Forest
Hudson-Odoi beats his man and delivers a perfect ball for Morata to score from.
Premier League 2019 Tactical Analysis: Massimiliano Allegri
Callum Hudson-Odoi season heat map (sofascore.com).

The perfect fit?

Massimiliano Allegri leaves Turin with the highest points per game ratio in the history of Italy’s greatest club. Some might criticise him for having a “lack of identity”. But his tactical versatility has only lead to success against Europe’s biggest and best. The number of high-profile managers available this summer could be limited and someone with such a big personality could survive Roman Abramovich’s hot seat.


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