Its a known fact that Juventus aren’t where they are supposed to be at the moment. I mean, they are exactly where they are in the Champions League, but the traditional kings of Italian football at the moment are sitting 8th on the Serie A standings, 14 points away from Napoli and Milan who are at the very top. Mathematically, its still a long long season and as we know, if anyone can do the impossible, its our very own Old Lady.
With Allegri’s return to Juventus, and the financial hit due to the pandemic, we knew there would be a transitional period, but one this drastic, and a team this inconsistent was never really expected.
Well, let us together unpack and identify the gaps that need to be addressed:
Max Allegri has always been about collective play, about being a compact team where players cover for each other and teamwork is highly valued.
His formation has always been the classic 4-4-2 which transforms to a dynamic 3-5-2 (3-4-1-2 and 3-4-2-1 included) or 4-3-3 during attack. While defending, it turns into a 6-2-2 or 7-1-2. Another signature of the Allegri style is the fact that your midfielders and fullbacks need to always cover for each other.
Now, lets turn our attention to central midfield, where I personally think the problems lie. The absence of a specialist defensive midfielder and having players like Adrien Rabiot who does not have the best workrate is that Manuel Locatelli has alot of defensive responsibilities causing him not to be able to link defence to attack with his clever passes and runs crippling any creativity in the middle of the park. The other central midfielder like Weston Mckennie and/or Rodrigo Bentancur do help out in defence, but Mckennie as we have seen off late has been very valuable in attack.
Now, the second problem I have identified is in the left side of midfield and defence. Alex Sandro, under Allegri has been rejuvenated into an excellent attacking Left Back with his darting runs and deliveries. Moreover, he is quite the decent defender as well.
So where does the problem lie?
The problem lies when Adrien Rabiot (So help me God) does not put in the shift and the hardwork to cover for Sandro in defence while the latter is busy in attack. Now, that gives additional defensive work to Locatelli. Bernadeschi on the other hand does a better job at covering up. Allegri, looks at Rabiot and wants to utilize him the exact way he utilized Mandzukic, but with Rabiot’s workrate it just is not working out.
The right side of midfield and defence is pretty sorted. The only problem I see here is that as Mckennie and Bentancur play their best football in the attacking part of the field, Chiesa has to do alot of defensive dirty work, which is not what he is best known for.
In attack, I dont see major problems, Dybala and Morata link up well. However, Dybala would be able to create and play more freely with an old fashioned Central Forward who leads the line. Someone like Dusan Vlahovic perhaps.
Juventus need to sign a specialist defensive midfielder as soon as possible and get rid of the likes of Rabiot and Ramsey. Players like Robin Gosens are much needed as Alex Sandro has only 60 mins of fuel in him. Finally, an old fashioned central forward, and under Max Allegri, we will be beautiful again!