Andrey Kleshenok – about transfers and the game of the new Juve.
The appointment of Pirlo overturned the usual pre-start layouts: the consistent and always monotonous Juve turned into the most mysterious club in Italy. Nobody knows what he will be and what he is capable of.
In fact, it is not so difficult to guess the common features. In some ways, Pirlo has no choice. “Juve” cannot be strongly codified, because it depends on atypical performers like Dybala and Ron – they can only be combined with a lot of freedom. Pirlo will bet on tactical flexibility and a hybrid module. Players will almost certainly be tied to the general structure, but not to specific positions – to preserve the quality of ownership without limiting individual freedom.
The only sparring with Novara confirmed the guesses. In positional possession, Juve juggled with 3-2-5, 2-3-5, and even 2-2-6 when he felt invulnerable. The players changed positions. Pirlo defended himself in a reliable 4-4-2 – and here not only the structure but also the roles within it were already strictly regulated.
It is clear that this is just the middle peasant of Serie C and one sparring. But Andrea hardly spent his one pre-season trial on a combination he doesn’t plan to use. Approximately such “Juve” will be – only with a more cautious adjustment to serious opponents. Pirlo is probably still in search and will try different modules, perhaps he will switch in different games, but the common features of Juve are already guessed: the formation should smoothly switch between 4-4-2 and 3-2-5… Three templates fit this:
- 3-5-2, presented against Novara and extremely suitable for the Turin roster;
- 4-3-3, who adores Pirlo;
- 3-4-3, which accommodates Dybala, Ronaldo, and a center forward and resolves the issue with a surplus of quality center-backs.
Juve seems to have solved the problem with the right lateral. Pirlo plays Bernardeschi
The presented 3-5-2 is also good in that it saves Cuadrado from the positional defense in the last line – that is, it eliminates his main drawback. This function is taken by the right center back. At the same time, Pirlo uses a fashionable chip – he puts in the center of a profile fullback: he is fast, controls a large space during the possession, and returns to his usual flank in positional defense. Cuadrado at this time plays the right midfielder.
The problem is that Juve now has three right laterals, and one of them – Mattia De Schiglio – is a chronicler, and the other, Danilo, is involved in the center of defense (and is also traumatic, by the way). Cuadrado has no substitution. It is possible that only specialized centerbacks will play in defense in official matches, but even then questions remain about the squad. In fact, behind the Colombian’s back are two transfer errors, unreliable not only because of brittle bones.
The only option for internal reinforcement is Bernardeschi’s repurposing. The position of the lateral suits him not much less than Cuadrado and Sandro, and for about the same reasons – it reveals exceptional physical capabilities. It has long been said in Italy that the best way to progress for Federico is to repeat Zambrotta’s evolution: from an atypical winger to an energetic attacking defender. Two weeks ago, Tuttosport reported that Pirlo thinks the same. Bernardeschi playing lateral…
True, there are questions about Fedya’s pronounced left-footedness. In attack, he played great on both flanks, but inverted laterals are not in vain found much less often than wingers. The wingers play as wide as possible and hardly move to the center. To effectively attack space, they must dribble with their far foot – otherwise, they will be vulnerable in both dribbling and receiving. Perhaps Bernardesca will make a great left lateral, but on the right, it will either be turned off from the overpass and become a distraction option, or it will spend a couple of extra touches to complete each action. If the flaws are too noticeable, without Cuadrado, he will have to rebuild to 4-3-3.
Juve no longer needs a regista, but they lack a midfielder with Ramsey-style attacking skills from deep within
A month ago, Juve’s transfer interest was attributed to all high-quality metronomes on the market – Locatelli, Tonali, Auar. Given Pirlo’s past in the game, the vector is understandable. But in the last couple of weeks, Turin seems to have scored in search of a passer – perhaps because of the tactical certainty that has come.
The profile director “Juve” is no longer needed – it would not hurt, of course, as players at a level higher than the existing ones will never hurt, but it is not necessary. Pirlo solved the problem. Two central midfielders – Rabiot and McKenny in the first half with Novara, Arthur, and Bentancourt in the second – are responsible for sorting the balls in a positional attack. Pirlo divided the responsibilities of the regista into two players – so that two good minds do what one exceptional one is capable of.
The problems are caused by the lack of another quality – sharpness. The last really dangerous Juve midfielder was Paul Pogba. At the peak, he perfectly embodied the role of a saboteur: he opened between the lines and connected from the depths, pulled the team into the attack with luxurious dribbling and gained 20 effective actions per season. In the methodical football of Allegri and Conte, he added exactly what without which they became dull – anarchy.
It is important that in the presented version of Pirlo the saboteur plays an important role. Ramsey spent most of the match with Novara in the penalty area – attacking blind spots, opening up from the depths and situationally acting as a center-forward, playing the balls back to the goal (at the same time tying up the defenders and creating space). The Welshman scored a great goal and played as useful as possible. But he does not solve the problem.
Ramsey’s adaptation to Serie A drags on – the space here is not as easy to find as in through England. In addition, he is treated no less than playing. It turns out that Juve has only one option for an important role – and not too reliable.
Unfortunately for Paratichi, such midfielders are rare. In Italy, there are only two options – Milinkovic-Savic and Rodrigo De Paul. Serbia is ideal, but too expensive for the era of the coronavirus crisis. De Paul represents a different type of saboteur. The Argentinian sharpens perfectly with the second pace, good when you need to rush into the free zone with the ball at your feet, but other qualities are in demand in the 3-2-5 module. Here you need a game in the box, timing of a dash and attack of space without the ball. In this he is not strong. So Juve is unlikely to pay 35 million for it.
As long as Ramsey is healthy, you don’t need to bathe. When he takes off, his role could theoretically be played by Rabiot – but not even half of the necessary severity – by Kulusewski and Bernardeschi. Another option is restructuring in 3-4-3, where a saboteur is not needed at all.
The main and only really necessary target is the center forward. Milik and Suarez are now better suited than Dzeko
Sparring with Novara showed what kind of striker Pirlo needs – and it is not surprising that immediately after the game the coach said: “I need the forward as soon as possible”. Now Juventus does not have a player with the necessary characteristics (and there are not even attackers left: Higuain is already tanning at Bex in Miami).
Pirlo’s interpretation is very similar to Mancini’s vision for Italy. Juve’s nine don’t have to score a lot. The striker often plays with his back to the goal, serves as a reference for structure and the addressee of vertical passes and ties up the center-backs, freeing up space for his team-mates, and initially increases the zones between the lines, lingering on the verge of an offside position.
Based on this, the basic requirements for the new forward are easily formulated:
- good physicsto play back to goal against powerful Italian centerbacks;
- high-quality interaction with partners in narrow boxes;
- craving for offside line play without going deep in search of the ball;
- compatibility with Ronaldo – for his sake Agnelli fired Sarri, and the attackers will sacrifice even easier.
All month Juve has shortlisted three forwards: Luis Suarez, Edin Dzeko and Arkadiusz Milik. Recently, the names of Morata, Giroud, Cavani and Keane have appeared, but the news flow is thin – these are either rumors or very fallbacks.
Of the three major ones, the worst would be Dzeko’s transition.… Edin is unique, combining bestial power with the subtlety of an artist, but it is precisely this last quality that today’s Juve does not need. The Bosnian is not limited to the offside line. He is good when he sinks into the depths and opens the defense with a pass, he is strong in counterattacking systems, where he clings to the balls and drops on his teammates, but high positional possession is not his. He cannot and will have nowhere to go down: like Sarri, Pirlo is not happy with an empty penalty area. Besides, Dzeko was never a hitman. He needs a thousand chances to score, and next to Ronaldo, who does not share the chances, his performance will inevitably and specifically decline. His only advantage over the competition is iron legs and a minimum of injuries.
There are nuances in the Suarez crossing. Stylistically, he suits the Turinians much more than Dzeko: he is accustomed to interacting with two prims, is very strong in closing triangles and short overruns, perfectly moves on the offside line – keeps the defense low and frees the trekquarti. Even the involution into a more static forward, which Luis has outlined in the last couple of years, is in favor of Juve: saving strength, he goes down for the ball less often, but coolly fills the penalty area and fetters the center backs.
At the same time, Suarez usually occupies the zone that Ronaldo attacks – the center or the left half of the penalty area (plus a few meters in front of it). It is from there that Luis has scored most of his goals last season. His movement is combined with Dybala, but to play with Cristiano he will have to rebuild. Suarez is soon 34 – his adaptive ability is questionable.
The best option for Juve is exactly the one that Tifosi likes least of all: stealing the striker again in Naples… Yes, his name is not so glamorous, you can’t hang him on the main poster in a big game, but Arkadiusz Milik is an advanced nine with a wide package of characteristics. He performed both the pure finalizer and the attacker of support next to Lewandowski, learned to read the game at all stages of the attack, and will be able to adapt to Pirlo’s demands. Milik is very good at playing without the ball and coordinating movement under the command, with a powerful torso resembles Lewandowski, who missed a week of rocking, plays great touch, and usually reaches for the goalkeeper or the right half of the penalty area – that is, more often Suarez frees the part that Ronaldo is bombarding. At the same time, his main disadvantages – speed and dribbling – in high possession will be invisible.
Milik fits another requirement of Pirlo. “Aggression and the desire to return the ball immediately after a loss is the basis of our concept. In the last Champions League, the success was achieved by clubs that took the ball as quickly as possible. Counterpressing will become a characteristic feature of the new Juve, – the coach told the club channel. The Pole is younger and more energetic than Dzeko and Suarez. His legs will not turn sour from active pressure, he will not lose his sharpness and will remain one of the most dangerous strikers in the league, even working out in the tackle. And this is also important. Milik’s striking talent is often underestimated due to injuries, but after Icardi left, few in Italy match him in the penalty area. In Pirlo’s system, he will definitely score more than Dzeko. And it is far from the fact that there is less Suarez – especially since Ronaldo will survive the Uruguayan from his favorite zone.
If Paratichi doesn’t sign anyone, we’ll have to get out. There are three options here:
- to use players who even remotely meet the requirements – that is, Bernardeschi (he performed a similar function in the national team), Kulusevski or Pjatsu (both auditioned for this role against Novara);
- redistribute the balance so that players play the right role on a situational basis – like Ramsey versus Novara;
- abandon the simulated system and return to the false nine performed by Dybala.
Either option involves a lot of risk and guarantees difficulty – so Juve’s striker is essential.