Locatelli’s off the leash
The midfield dynamic we’ve all been crying out for were overwhelmed against Fiorentina as La Viola dominated the midfield battle in last Wednesday’s Coppa Italia semi-final first leg.
Arthur Melo, who started in the single pivot, couldn’t escape the clutches of the tenacious Lucas Torreira, and Fiorentina’s stellar pressing performance meant Manuel Locatelli was uninfluential.
Despite their struggles, Allegri retained the midfield for Sunday’s game. Arthur, once again, operated in the single-pivot while Locatelli functioned further forward in the right half-space. The latter played like a #10 at times, supporting the front two, as Adrien Rabiot had more build-up responsibilities.
Locatelli teased his brilliance in a more advanced role on a couple of occasions in January, and we were treated to more majesty from the Italian in this one. He was let off the leash, and it was refreshing to see him play with so much freedom after a tricky few weeks.
It was an all-action display from the Azzurri regular as his four shot-creating actions and six combined tackles and interceptions ranked second and first respectively among the Juve players.
He teed up Morata brilliantly for the unexpected game-winner with a smart pass to round off a swift transition amid another display in which his potential as a box-to-box, as opposed to Juve’s regista, was teased. Locatelli’s technique and willingness to penetrate could be key in filling Weston McKennie’s void.