They were the roadrunners of Turin. Shapeshifters that transitioned from belligerent defenders to aggressive attackers and vice versa. Their curse was to run during every minute of the match, and that sacrifice helped the Old Lady to achieve the Scudetto and the Coppa Italia once again. Juventus' wingbacks aren't the most glamorous players, but they were essential.
Beppe Marotta failed to gift a trequartista with playmaking skills to Max Allegri. That's the reason the Livornian coach turned to the 3-5-2 formation during most parts of the 2015-16 season.
The equation was easy: if the bianconeri wanted to play with the 3-5-2, their wingbacks needed to dominate the flanks. If they failed to accomplish such mission, Juventus would be in deep troubles. It was as simple as that.
Luckily, Juventus had a solid and heterogeneous cast of players that managed the position with composure. Let's take a look at their season ratings.
Stephan Lichtsteiner - 7.5
The Swiss Express won his fifth Scudetto in a row with the bianconeri and completed another solid season. It's true that he had his lowest goals and assists total as a Juventus player, but it's undeniable that the departure of a certain bearded maestro affected his numbers. At the beginning of the season, Steiner was diagnosed with a cardiac arrhythmia. He needed a surgery procedure and was out of action for over a month. He returned just in time to help his side to comeback in Serie A.
Stephan was arguably the most balanced wingback in Juventus roster. He attacked with fury and defended with poise; however, he sometimes failed to choose the right play on offense. Lichtsteiner hasn't lost a step despite being on the wrong side of 30. He'll continue to be one of Juventus' pillars in the years to come.
Patrice Evra -7
Uncle Pat is a true leader in this Juventus squad. When the team suffered a slump in the early stages of the season, he helped the younger players to stay positive and calm. That's why you could never measure Evra's influence with statistics. The 35-year-old Frenchman made 35 appearances in all competitions this season and scored twice. He also performed occasionally as a center back. Patrice is the kind of veteran that uses his head to compete.
The problem with Patrice is that he can no longer contend with the European elite. As you remember, he struggled against Bayern Munich in the Champions League (by the way, a lot of people went completely ballistic with him after the match in Allianz Arena). Evra can handle seamlessly most of his competition in Serie A, but he'll pass the torch to Alex Sandro sooner than later.
Juan Cuadrado -7
Juan Guillermo's dribbling skills were electric, but occasionally he was an anarchic player. Cuadrado had adaptation problems at the beginning of the season. He had a terrible 2014-15 with Chelsea and arrived in Turin rusty. He used to retain the ball excessively and performed a lot of erratic passes during the first half of Serie A. Then, Allegri used his magic and gave the Colombian discipline and confidence. That's why Cuadrado's game grew in the second half.
Cuadrado was the protagonist of at least three important goals for the Old Lady. He scored against Torino in the final minutes of the Derby della Mole to give his squad the victory, that game was one of the turning points of this past season. Later, he finished coolly an incredible play by Álvaro Morata against Bayern Munich (...and I don't want to say anything more about that game). Finally, he assisted Morata who scored the winning goal in the Italian cup final.
It looks like Cuadrado is returning to Chelsea this summer, as Antonio Conte is a big fan of the Colombian. Still, I have a hunch that a Cuadrado's comeback to Stamford Bridge would finish awfully. I really hope he stays in Vinovo.
Alex Sandro -8
The Brazilian powerhouse was another mercato jewel for Juventus. He can be considered "the Cristian Molinaro's antithesis". Sandro's crosses were dreamlike and he was a force of nature in the left flank. The 25-year-old Brazilian made 27 appearances, he scored two goals and had four assists. Sandro's potential is extremely high. Yet, he was a little bit cocky on defense occasionally. He's a terrific athlete, but he needs to have a better awareness of his defensive assignations.
Alex Sandro is the present and the future of Juventus. Next season, he should have the lion's share of playing time on the left flank.
Mauricio Isla - s/v
"El Huaso" played nine minutes in the first match of the season before Olympique de Marseille signed him on loan. I believe he'll fulfill his dream of playing for Real Madrid shortly.