A few days ago, it seemed like everything was just going to fall into place when it came to who will be named to Juventus' starting lineup against Bayern Munich on Wednesday night. Giorgio Chiellini would come back from injury, the 3-5-2 would return into Max Allegri's thought process and then, as a result, there might only be a decision here or there in terms of who plays.
Then came the realization that Chiellini probably isn't going to beat the race to full fitness in time to make the trip to Germany because he's still training separately from the main group. Then came the report late Monday night that Claudio Marchisio will miss the Bayern game with a calf injury. All of those hopes for simple squad rotation went flying out the window. Amazing how quickly all good things can switch just like that, isn't it?
Like, the topic of this post, for instance. This was originally set up to be solely a Patrice Evra vs. Alex Sandro post. Honestly, it was. And, I guess it still kind of is. But, like Juventus' sudden injury situation, it has stopped on a dime and change directions. Kinda.
Instead of completely concentrating on why Sandro should play over Evra, this is just the declaration that Sandro should play — period. If it's at left back, play Sandro. If it's as a left winger in a 4-4-2, play Sandro. Shift Paul Pogba inside, slot him next to Sami Khedira, and play Sandro. Yes, this isn't something that is going against what the headline says above. That'd be just weird, honestly. All aboard the #TeamAlexSandro train, everybody!
If it comes to that, then great. But if Allegri feels like it's a Sandro-or-Evra situation at left back, then play Sandro.
For comparisons sake, let's take a look at the two options at left back, shall we?
|Games Played (Serie A and UCL)||Minutes Played||Tackles Per Game||Interceptions Per Game||Clearances Per Game||Key Passes Per Game||Average Passes Per Game||Crosses Per Game||Pass Completion Percentage||Shots Per Game|
|Patrice Evra||25 (23 starts)||1,968||2.0||1.5||2.1||1.0||37.6||0.4||85.3%||0.6|
|Alex Sandro||22 (13 starts)||1,312||1.6||1.9||1.5||2.1||34.2||1.0||83.5%||0.8|
(All stats via WhoScored)
As you probably suspected, Evra's defensive stats are mostly better, while Sandro's offensive contributions are better than the 34-year-old Frenchman's. This isn't exactly a surprise. We know Evra is more defensive than offensive, and we know that Sandro is more offensive than defensive.
I can't help but look at two of those stats above — crosses per game and key passes — and think about what Sandro will be able to do against a Bayern Munich defense that still isn't 100 percent fit and proved to be more than a little vulnerable when Juve upped the pressure in the first leg.
Even when we knew he would miss the first leg two weeks ago, I rued the possibilities of what Juve may be missing. Mario Mandzukic was healthy and in the starting lineup again, and the potential combination of Sandro sending in his usual dangerous crosses with the big Croatian on the other end is a enticing possibility.
Sandro's value and importance seems to grow week by week as he gets more playing time. Of course it's his offensive contributions at left back that makes him so good, but he's no slouch on the defensive end, either. And as much as Evra would be a rock defensively against a Bayern team that rolls out one of the best attacking groups in Europe, it's going to be more imperative that offense is created on the other end of the field, too.
The fact is, when Sandro is in the lineup, Juventus' attack just has a completely different look and threat to it. There's more creativity, more options to work with both out wide and with combinations between the wings, center of the midfield and the forwards.
With no Marchisio, would a 4-4-2 with Sandro and Cuadrado on the wings be a good idea?— BWRAO (@JuventusNation) March 15, 2016
I'm in! Who's with me? No matter if it's at left back or as a left winger, Allegri needs to play Sandro. That seems like a pretty simple solution to this sudden pre-Bayern injury problem at this point.