This time around, the four-man backline acquired the most votes, with around 56 percent, however, the preferred formation for this game is the 3-5-2/5-3-2 with 44 percent of the votes.
In goal, Gianluigi Buffon nearly unanimously leads the way, with 97 percent of the votes.
In defense, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci were staples in nearly every team picked, while Medhi Benatia picked up enough votes in 3/5 at the back teams to be included in the selected team. At the wingback positions, Dani Alves and Alex Sandro faced little resistance and were also nearly unanimously selected.
In the midfield, as expected Sami Khedira and Miralem Pjanic were locks to be in nerly every team selected. After that, it wasn’t so clear. Claudio Marchisio was originally included in the poll, but was removed after the match day squad was released and he was not included on it. He earned himself 57/171 (~38 percent) votes before being removed, if you were wondering. Mario Lemina rounds out the midfield with 52 percent of the votes.
Up front, there was really no question. Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain both earned an astounding 98 percent of votes. This was partially because they are both in quite the fine form right now, and partially due to the very limited options up front. Mario Mandzukic was also removed from the poll due to not being called up, however, it was a moot point after he only received a handful of votes. A front-three trident had it’s shouts, however, and there was an explanation I agree with and would like to see:
It would be interesting to see the three attack option with Dybala leading the position. They could even play with Dybala as a false 9 so he can be a little back waiting for the wingers pass, and building himself with the midfielders.
I think it could work. There were also a few shouts for Moise Kean to make his debut at some point in the match. Here’s hoping we get a big enough lead so we can be completely comfortable doing that. It would be an invaluable experience to a potential future star to get exposure like that at such a young age.
Axel Witsel seems to have become a fan-favourite on BWRAO already. I’d attribute that partially to his great attitude, which will fit in very nicely at Juve, his lack of cup-tied status (should he join us in January), and he’s a very fine player who would offer some very reliable midfield depth. I would be more than okay with him joining the team in January, and if not then, the summer is okay as well. I also think Blaise Matuidi would be a nice summer addition as well, but that time is very far away and so many things could change by then.
Now for my team. Personally, I wouldn’t have all of our healthy central defenders on the field at once, so I would opt to start Bonucci and Barzagli and have Benatia to come in fresh barring an injury. I also don’t trust out fullbacks to play in the center of the park in an important game. To me, it’s just too much of a drop-off defensively, which is partially due to how good our central defenders are. For that reason, I originally chose a 4-3-1-2. However, this was when I thought Claudio would be available, so I’ve now changed that to a 4-3-2-1. I really think one more reliable central midfielder would do wonders for this team as I would really like to see what Pjanic can do at trequartista in a consistent run of games there.
Anthony’s Starting XI (4-3-2-1): Gianluigi Buffon; Alex Sandro, Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli, Dani Alves; Miralem Pjanic, Mario Lemina, Sami Khedira; Juan Cuadrado, Paulo Dybala; Gonzalo Higuain
BWRAO’s Starting XI (3-5-2): Gianluigi Buffon; Medhi Benatia, Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli; Alex Sandro, Miralem Pjanic, Mario Lemina, Sami Khedira; Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala.