clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Choosing your starters wisely: A look at Juventus' squad depth

Juventus' squad depth gives fans the right to dream of Champions League glory.

Marco Luzzani

The away win at AC Milan marked the returning to action of Arturo Vidal after an injury that kept him away for two weeks, missing matches against Udinese and Malmö. It is also the match which will raise a few questions for Max Allegri. With so many options at his disposal in midfield, the new Juventus coach has to find the winning formula for every game: Make sure in-form players get enough time on the pitch and because of the necessity of fresh legs in modern football, convince those who need a rest that a place on the bench is the best for the team.

Although Vidal only played the last 15 minutes, it was wonderful to see our warrior back on the pitch, putting in tackles, recovering the ball and doing his best for the team to get the result. And after winning the first four official matches without conceding and also welcoming Vidal back, things should only get better for Juventus — who must make up for the embarrassment of last year’s Champions League campaign, while also delivering in Serie A.

Vidal’s absence, however, gave Roberto Pereyra the chance to prove himself in midfield. Many Juventini were sceptical about him in the moment Juventus announced the official signing of the 23-year-old Argentine for €1.5 million, on a loan deal with an option to buy. A very Marotta-like deal — safe, taking few risks by bringing in a player already accustomed with Serie A football. Having played most of his matches for Udinese as a winger, he was expected to be used in the same position in an eventual 4-3-3 formation.

But Allegri had other thoughts and giving the circumstances, Pereyra was needed to cover in centre midfield. Under the eyes of a certain bearded magician of the ball who is still injured, Pereyra was arguably the best player on the pitch for Juventus. He was involved in all the attacking actions in the first half, showing good pace, great skills and also had a great chance to score but failed to beat Christian Abbiati.

Vidal replaced the Argentine after 76 minutes, but his performance was enough to give Allegri something to think about. So was the performance of Claudio Marchisio. As I’ve mentioned before, Andrea Pirlo is still injured and is yet to feature this season, so Il Principino played in his position, trying to make sure Pirlo’s absence isn’t felt. Marchisio did his job brilliantly so far and his game against Milan was another example of determination and passion. With 124 touches, the Juventus youth product had the most passes of the game (112) with an accuracy of 87 percent and attempted 16 long balls, 11 of them finding the target. He was also unlucky not to score as his shot stroke Abbiati’s left post.

When Paul Pogba took his game to the next level last season, delivering great performances, showing an unexpected maturity, bossing the midfield with his powerful presence and also scoring much-needed goals, he forced Antonio Conte to play him in the starting XI. Competition is essential if progress is what you seek. Marchisio had to fight for his place from that moment and, on many occasions, to settle with a place on the bench. That didn’t stop him to give his best when covering for any of Pirlo, Vidal or Pogba.

The trio is still expected to be Allegri’s first option as soon as all of them are fit, but the former AC Milan boss has a hard task ahead of him. If Juventus are to succeed again in Serie A and go as far as possible in the Champions League, Pereyra and Marchisio need to find themselves with regularity in the starting XI. Now that Juventus have found another quality player on the left wing in Patrice Evra, Kwadwo Asamoah could also be capable of filling gaps in midfield when needed, as he already showed it against Malmo. And with Stephan Lichtsteiner and Romulo covering the right wing, the midfield’s depth is really impressive — one which a lot of European teams would love to have.

Many have sustained Juventus failed on the European plan under Conte because of the system used and a lack in tactics, not to mention the strikers’ crisis (which was resolved once Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente arrived and became starters). But to be honest, I don’t think that was the real problem. Conte was always reticent to rotate – fact that was showing the great desire to win in Serie A, but also made the team look lethargic and shaky in Europe. Juventus were playing a match every three days and the starting XI was usually the same.

Learning from your mistakes is a great thing. But learning from others’ mistakes is something extraordinary. Max Allegri should know that and having such a great squad at his disposal, one which also gives him options like Alvaro Morata, Sebastian Giovinco and Kingsley Coman for the attack, there will be no excuse for him not to succeed in Serie A and why not make the dream of all the Juventini come true: bring the Champions League trophy to Turin.