I have to admit this may not be the best time to write this article. I am still enraged at the two performances that we have seen this week by our Old Lady against Sevilla and Inter. Predictable, lackadaisical and uninspiring are a few of the words that come to mind as I recall both games.
This is a team touted by many to at least make the semifinals of the Champions League this season and a team who has spent the better part of the summer discussing the team’s European aspirations. We are in dire need of a formation change here at Juventus, and if it doesn’t come soon, giving the players enough time to adapt to the system then this season may just pass us by, squandering another chance to lift the Champions League trophy with our aging core.
Simply put, the 3-5-2 has become stale and predictable and teams have had five years to study and defend against it. What I propose is something that Juventus has not experimented with very much in the past few years and that is the 4-3-3 formation. My formation would look like this:
Dybala—Higuain (Mandzukic)—Cuadrado (Pjaca)
Pjanic (Asamoah)—Marchisio (Lemina)—Khedira (Sturaro)
Alex Sandro (Evra)—Bonucci (Chiellini)—Barzagli (Benatia)—Alves (Lichtsteiner)
There are a number of reasons that a formation switch to the 4-3-3 is essential to this Juventus team. Firstly, the formation suits the current composition of our team far better than a 3-5-2 at this current time. Juventus invested a lot of money this summer (Marko Pjaca) and a lot of time this summer (Juan Cuadrado & Dani Alves) investing in wing play, but have not featured these players very often in the first five games. It is true that Allegri is very patient with integrating players into his lineup — read: Paulo Dybala last season — and it has worked successfully in the past, but Juventus are at a precarious stage in the season where we cannot afford games to be decided by the midfield, which has proven to be noticeably weaker this season. Juventus trying to recover a 10-point deficit on their closest rivals may have worked last year, but repeating that remarkable feat two years in a row may be near impossible.
Therefore, a best 11 must be on the field at all times and that includes Kwadwo Asamoah being omitted from the teamsheet the majority of the time.
Why the 3-5-2 just doesn’t work for this team anymore is the fact that Juventus has five forwards of high calibre in contrast to our decision to only have four forwards last year. Leaving 3 of Dybala, Higuain, Mandzukic, Pjaca and Cuadrado on the bench for any given game is a travesty and a waste of talent. The one that sticks out the most to me is Cuadrado. Juventus spent quite a bit of time in the late stages of the summer transfer window securing the renegotiation of Cuadrado’s loan spell, and this ultimately led to not devoting enough time to finding a suitable midfielder to complete the roster — and losing out and Axel Witsel — leaving Juventus in its current midfield predicament. Mario Lemina as has shown last year has the brilliance and ability to become a great player, but he needs protection until he is mature and Asamoah does not offer enough in this role.
Another reason why Juventus should transition into a 4-3-3 is to prepare for the future. I am one of those people who is hopeful that Domenico Berardi is going to play for Juventus in the coming years, and what better formation to exploit his talents than the explosive 4-3-3. Berardi has proven countless times that he is a Serie A talent and this season, albeit early on, he has started to prove that he can preform in Europe as well. I believe that Cuadrado was signed on a three-year loan to offset the eventual arrival of Berardi on the wing. I could see this then meaning a transition into an attacking midfield role for Pjaca (to be shared with Mirolem Pjanic).
Lastly, Juventus has built its recent success on the backbone of a strong defensive core. Building a formation that pins the other team in its own end not only keeps possession in the opposing teams half. but keeps the defense fresh throughout a game. This is especially important as the season progresses towards the latter stages, Juventus’ defense, minus Daniele Rugani, isn’t getting any younger. In Europe, however, this core has been proven to concede against the elite teams of the tournament. Against Bayern Munich last season we saw an experienced core concede six goals over two legs, this Bayern team had the attacking prowess of some of the best in football history. This Juventus team has the quality and the roster to play a similar style of play which pins the opposing team in its own half until the game is over. I personally watched Juventus-Bayern in Torino last year and the first half was not pretty. The whole thing was systematic — Bayern ball, feed to wingers, cross the ball in, Juventus clears but lose the ball, rinse and repeat.
This team needs to start playing attack-minded football in Europe or else we can resign ourselves to winning Serie A and forget about aspiring to being one of Europe’s elite.