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The Taller, Stronger, Younger Juventus

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Credit to Johonna at the Inter Offside for the link.

In discussing Delneri's vision for Juventus:, I identified two traits of a tactical 4-4-2 that we might see under Delneri, similar to the Ranieri days:

There are two things that a tactical 4-4-2 side can do, and certainly did under Ranieri and Capello, that Delneri will aim for.The first is an ability to hold out leads. Perfect example of this would be our victories against Real Madrid, where we were under immense pressure for significant portions of the game, but did not crack. Not even when Van Nistelrooy scored. The second, is a strength at scoring, and defending against set pieces. During Capello and Ranieri’s era, the tactical discipline meant we took advantage of many set pieces, at the same time it is hard to think of many we conceded, rather, our weakness was generally on the counter-attack. (particularly for Ranieri) Delneri aims to resolve this by keeping the fullbacks defensive, but it also resolves by the refreshing of the squad. We had a fairly old team under Ranieri, and a lot of times they were simply too slow or tired late in the game to track back fast enough on the counter.

In addition to being a cheaper squad (in more ways than just the payroll, perhaps), this team has gotten significantly taller and younger in the mercato. Most of the like-for-like substitutions have been a direct upgrade, at least physically- Giovinco for Martinez, Camoranesi for Krasic, Diego for Quagliarella, Cannavaro for Bonucci, etc. In fact, of our signings, only 3 are shorter than 6 feet (about 1.85m) and they are all only an inch or two off. By signing young players and shedding several 30-year olds, we went from being one of the older squads in Serie A, to being the 2nd youngest behind Palermo.

So we can see here two things that Marotta worked on. Height, to exploit the advantage on attacking and defending set pieces, and youth. The youth factor of course trades off experience for pace, which may not lead to a watertight defense, though it is unlikely to concede more on the counter. The height factor is fixed, the defensive one is still very much a work in progress, as Motta and De Ceglie have not exactly proven to be the most defensive of fullbacks. However, when a team like Parma attacks us on the counter, I feel more secure with Bonucci, Motta, and De Ceglie tracking back as opposed to Cannavaro, Grosso, and Zebina.

I'm a bit surprised to see Inter so short, but they have definitely shifted their game since the Mancini days. In 06-08, they were the tallest team in the league and exploited that well, scoring plenty up top. They were tall enough that they played a strange zone defense on defending set pieces. It's no coincidence Marotta signed a tall team. It might end up ugly, but after last year, I'll take anything that gets us a W on the 'ole chalkboard!