Juventus plays Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday in a match that could go some way to defining both teams' seasons. The German side has finally hit a bit of form at the worst possible time for Juventus fans, with a return to form and fitness for players like Ilkay Gündoğan and Marco Reus contributing to a run of three straight wins. Going back to the 4-2-3-1 — turning into a pressing 4-4-2 in defense — that has served them so well in recent seasons, Jürgen Klopp's men will surely pose problems for the Juventus team, and especially the back four. In this piece I'll take a look at some of BVB's best.
Marco Reus is the first name on the teamsheet when healthy, and for good reason. Very creative and effective cutting in from either sideline, and almost impossible to dispossess, the German is simply one of the best around. The winter signing of Kevin Kampl from Red Bull Salzburg has spread some of the creative burden, with the Slovenian offering something of a mirror image on the opposite wing. Although their mutual understanding needs work at times, when it does click they can unlock defenses with ease. Kampl tends to start on the right and cut infield deeper, with Reus making infield runs higher and from the left. Switching positions at will and both good, fast dribblers capable of scoring from distance or playing the killer pass, Reus and Kampl will make sure that the Juventus fullbacks and midfielders have their work cut out for them.
In the last few games, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has become the clear first-choice striker for Klopp. Unbelievably fast, Aubameyang also has the stamina to make explosive runs all game long and from sideline to sideline, stretching the defense and breaking the last line. An instinctive first-time finisher, Aubameyang will miss his fair share but when he gets it right his shots leave the keeper no chance. Aubameyang's incredible speed makes him important to the pressing game as well, as he is always eager to close down a center back or goalkeeper who takes one touch too many. Any ball over the top or into the channels gives Aubameyang a chance, and the Juventus defense will have to communicate and always be aware of the Gabonese dangerman.
Ilkay Gündoğan is finally back to something near his best, providing an important link between attack and defense, often simply by playing balls over or through the opposing defense, as well as offering a goal threat of his own. Very good technically and eager to contribute all over the pitch, alongside Nuri Sahin he provides the shield in front of the back four and is an important component of Dortmund's high press.
Dortmund's characteristic High Pressing will be one of the most important battles of the game, as Juventus try and move the ball upfield with short passes using Andrea Pirlo, Giorgio Chiellini, and Leonardo Bonucci as a base. If Juventus can consistently move the ball into midfield under control, and have time to look up and play accurate balls for the strikers, they should be well on the way to progressing. If Dortmund can force turnovers in the attacking zone the Schwarzgelben will be very tough to control.
Paul Pogba and Claudio Marchisio will need to be precise in receiving the ball from their back line, and if they are consistently able to keep things moving forward it will be a big step for Juventus. Once that initial press is broken Dortmund remain a team with issues in defense, particularly if Mats Hummels is not able to recover from flu. Robert Weidenfeller, Neven Subotić and Sokratis Papastathopoulos have not inspired much confidence this year, and if Juventus can ask questions of them goals are likely to be the answer.
Andrea Pirlo remains one of the likeliest sources of inspiration for the Old Lady, with his magnificent range of passing potentially deadly against a team that leaves space in behind like Dortmund. The Bearded Maestro will also be on set-piece duty, another area that has provided trouble for Klopp's men this season.
Carlos Tévez will be, as always, hugely involved in the offensive third. With Gündoğan and Sahin in midfield Dortmund hardly have the most solid base, and at times both will lose 50/50 balls and provide a clear run through on the defense. Like Reus on the other side, Tévez has the dribbling, strength, creativity, and finishing to make his chances count.
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