Juventus reaping the benefits of new attacking formation
TURIN, Italy (AP) — Four forwards seems to be the way forward for Juventus.
Coach Massimiliano Allegri has unveiled a daring 4-2-3-1 formation in the past two matches, and the team has played some of its best soccer of the season.
The new system puts Miralem Pjanic in a deeper midfield role alongside Sami Khedira, with Juan Cuadrado, Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic sitting just behind Gonzalo Higuain.
Not only has Juventus been more creative and dangerous going forward, threatening with every wave of attack, but it has also remained solid at the back.
Juventus kept a clean sheet in Sunday’s 2-0 win over Lazio in the league, while it gave AC Milan “hardly a sniff,” according to Allegri, in Wednesday’s 2-1 Italian Cup victory.
Against both teams, Juventus took a two-goal lead. Dybala and Higuain scored against Lazio in the first 16 minutes, and Dybala and Pjanic netted against Milan in the opening 21.
“The formation doesn’t count as much as the attitude with which you play,” Allegri said after the Milan match. “If those who play up front also help defensively then you control the match better. However, there were a lot of important players out, too.”
Allegri is without the injured Claudio Marchisio and Mario Lemina, while Medhi Benatia is at the African Cup of Nations. Allegri also opted to give his regular defenders some rest in the past two matches.
That has somewhat conditioned the formation, which Allegri said he came up with last week following the 2-1 loss at Fiorentina.
Despite the fact Juventus is undoubtedly playing better with the new formation, Allegri may change things again at Sassuolo on Sunday.
“It’s not a given that we’ll always play like this,” Allegri said. “No two matches are the same and you have to adapt to different situations so of course we might switch things around from time to time.
“If everyone is willing to put in a shift, the more quality players we have on the field the easier it is to manage possession, which is important.”
One player who is reveling in the new formation is Cuadrado, who set up Higuain’s goal against Lazio and also provided an assist against Milan, flicking on Kwadwo Asamoah’s cross with his heel for Dybala.
“The new system brings out my skills, I can be more attacking,” Cuadrado said. “But I think regardless of the formation, what matters is grit and determination. We know we have to fight hard to achieve our targets, always giving 100 percent.
“For me personally, it’s always like that, wherever the coach asks me to play, whether I’m attacking or when I’m defending, which is something Allegri is always pushing us on.”