Juventus won their ninth consecutive Scudetto under a third different manager, so surely all must be well across the pitch, right?
The fullback quartet somewhat typifies the 2019-20 campaign for the Bianconeri, rife with inconsistency and injuries yet capable of being rigid and even sublime. Just good enough to keep Juve ahead of the pack, but in the long term desperately needing an upgrade in quality.
Another common theme across the four players is their advancing age — 27, 27, 29 and 32 years old. Fullback might not be a position that new manager Andrea Pirlo will have time to address this mercato, but to really take that next step forward in European competition it will need fixing.
Juan Cuadrado — 7
The Colombian speedster had a good season rotating between right back and right winger, picking up one goal and five assists and two goals with two assists at the respective positions.
Cuadrado was quite durable featuring in 45 games this season, which is impressive when you think of the ground he covers up and down the right touchline. At 32 he’s not about to turn over a new leaf, so he will continue to have defensive deficiencies which will continue to be magnified as he loses pace.
With Dejan Kulusevski coming in to play wide right, expect Cuadrado to retain his starting position in the backline for now.
Danilo — 6
The Manchester City transfer came in with a simple mission: be better than Joao Cancelo, which he did for the most part. With Danilo on the pitch, not much was expected of him from the attacking front, but he was surprisingly good defending as well.
At 29 years old, he’s not getting any younger himself, so Juve can continue to lean on him for backup minutes but know that right back is a position that will need to be addressed sooner than later.
Alex Sandro — 6.5
The Brazilian had one goal and four assists this season in 41 games played, matching his output from last season. I know I’m inviting a lot of flak giving him a similar grade to Cuadrado, who had a very good season by most observations, but Sandro is by all respects a serviceable fullback who does a bit of everything while having defensive limitations.
All the top four sides apart from Juve use a three-man defense, so it’s a bit difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison between Sandro and their respective left backs, so instead let’s take a look at his metrics compared to Cuadrado across the pitch.
The blue shaded indices are all defensive metrics and the lack of pressures or horrendous dribbled past percentages is part of the back story why Juve shipped an astronomical number of goals this season.
Again, Sandro is no world beater at the position, and neither is Cuadrado, but for Juve to truly dominate they will need more creative influence from the fullback position preferably from younger legs in the near future.
Mattia De Sciglio — 5
Let’s play a quick numbers game here: 23-9-26 and 20-28-13. These are all numbers of games from the 2017-18 season through to the 2019-20 season, one set is the number of games missed due to injury, and one is number of games he featured in. Honestly, it doesn’t matter which is which, but for a team that plays in over 50 competitive games a season he’s been little more than a bit part player. Not that he’s shown any inclination to improve either.
A decent enough fullback on his day, and with two more seasons on his contract, MDS should be easy enough to offload. But with more pressing needs elsewhere on the pitch, it’s unlikely right back is a position to address this summer. He’ll continue to eat insignificant minutes until a youngster can make the jump up.