Juventus got what they came for when they made the trip to Salerno on Tuesday night. After falling to defeat against Atalanta at the weekend, the Bianconeri were in desperate need of three points.
And thanks to goals from Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata, a win is exactly what they got. The 2-0 triumph, albeit against bottom-of-the-table Salernitana, was one of their more impressive performances of the season as Massimiliano Allegri’s side languish down in seventh after 15 games in the 2021/22 Serie A season.
But what did we learn from Tuesday’s victory? Let’s take a look.
Massimiliano Allegri’s aggressive approach pays off
Massimiliano Allegri has come under widespread criticism at times this season, with his return to Turin proving an unsavoury one thus far. While he’s been thrust into a difficult situation, the master pragmatist certainly hasn’t helped himself on occasions this term.
For much of the season, the returning boss has instilled a rather turgid 4-4-2 system that morphs to a 3-1-5-1 in possession. However, in Juve’s last three outings, they’ve lined up in a 4-5-1 – attempting to block space and counter-attack from deep. The failure of this ploy in the first half against Atalanta, though, forced Allegri to revert back to the 4-4-2 in the second half, although it played more like a 4-2-4.
Nevertheless, the 4-4-2 was retained for the trip to Salernitana despite rumours of a 4-3-3 being in order as the teams were announced. Now, as we previously alluded to, the 4-4-2 is merely the configuration Juve defend in. With the ball, it’s entirely different and the Bianconeri’s possession structure was difficult to pin down on Tuesday.
Still, we liked it. It was atypical from what we’ve seen from Juventus and Allegri this season. The visitors were dynamic and cohesive, with full-backs encouraged to advance into the opposition third as wide men Dejan Kulusevski and Federico Bernardeschi sought to operate in their respective half-spaces. Right-back Juan Cuadrado had 31 touches in the attacking third, the second-most among the Juventus players, depicting Allegri’s more proactive approach.
Paulo Dybala, meanwhile, was given the licence to roam and he sauntered around the Arechi turf in a manner that didn’t compromise his side’s collective harmony. The Argentine combined wonderfully with those around him, as Juve’s creators found space at will.
In the build-up phase, the Bianconeri, facing a Salernitana side that pressed sporadically, showed signs of life. There was marked improvements in this regard in the win over Lazio, with positional rotations slowly being introduced, but their work in this phase against Atalanta was disastrous. Thus, the deeper-lying hosts was the perfect antidote to La Dea’s heavy man-orientation. On Tuesday night, Juve built attacks efficiently.
Allegri had released the shackles and it facilitated a display akin to the performance at home to Zenit in the Champions League. For the most part, Juventus played with an expression and freedom that we’ve rarely seen since the boss returned. The Bianconeri’s savvy movement persistently created space in between Salernitana’s valiant 5-3-2 block, while their technical security allowed them to retain possession and dominate proceedings.
Juve impressively completed 775 of their 850 passes (91% success rate), as they mustered up their third-highest xG total in a single Serie A game this term (2.54).
Overall, Allegri’s more aggressive approach unsurprisingly paid off and it’s no surprise we saw the best from two of Juventus’ leading men.