2. Fearless build-up
While Andrea Pirlo tried his utmost to introduce efficient build-up play last season, Massimiliano Allegri has adopted a more direct approach to playing out from the back. Set patterns have been hard to come by, with Leonardo Bonucci’s passing range relied upon for ball progression.
Unfortunately, Juventus lack the requisite technical security in defence to evolve into a proficient first phase outfit. The injury to Danilo will only exacerbate such woes.
However, against Lazio, we saw a little more variation to Juve’s build-up play that helped them progress play beyond the Biancocolesti’s initial press. In the 4-4-2, Juve built up in a 3-1 structure: Manuel Locatelli was the metronome in midfield, while Alex Sandro advanced from left-back. Last weekend, though, the structure was more of a 4-2 in the 4-5-1. Both full-backs were stationed deeper while a second midfielder aided Locatelli in the build-up. This structure created overloads that helped them advance upfield, while frequent positional rotations disorientated the opposition.
On Saturday, their build-up will be put to the test against one of the best pressing sides in the division. Atalanta’s ten passes per defensive action rank second in Serie A, while their 109 high turnovers rank third. La Dea’s man-orientation can overwhelm opponents, but their approach can be compromised. Rotations and interchanges can confuse man-markers, while brave build-up play is necessary for exposing the space Atalanta surrender in transition.
Up, back and through passing sequences can compromise man-orientation, as can dynamic movements from midfielders. Thus, Weston McKennie could have a big role to play.
Overall, Juve must be courageous on Saturday and not allow the visitors to control the contest with their work out of possession.