Danilo experiment 2.0
“I thought about Danilo because he is a smart player, he can play with two touches and he knows football well. It’s an idea I had the other night,” rationalised former Juventus boss Andrea Pirlo after he deployed Danilo in midfield for the 3-1 victory over Lazio last March.
Amid a lack of midfield availability that resembles the current situation, Pirlo turned the Brazilian to mitigate the issue. Danilo had often played an inverted role for the novice coach in 2020/21, meaning he was comfortable playing in more central positions. For Pirlo, it was the innovative but obvious solution.
The ultra-versatile full-back would end up making three appearances in midfield where he largely impressed. His success in this role convinced Allegri to bring back the experiment for Sunday’s game following Manuel Locatelli’s positive COVID test.
However, it wasn’t all plain sailing for the reliable veteran as he produced a mixed display. He never looked entirely comfortable, but this wasn’t a complete surprise considering he’s performed a more traditional full-back function for Allegri this season, rarely venturing into central areas.
Danilo was uncharacteristically loose in possession and there were a couple of occasions where he was caught dawdling on the ball. But, his numbers were respectable; concluding the contest with an 86% pass completion and five progressive passes (third-most in the Juve ranks).
The Brazilian’s quick release of players into the channels was refreshing to see and it was his pass to Juan Cuadrado in behind that kick-started the sequence for Juve’s second goal. Defensively, he was excellent and he starred in defensive transition; ending the game with a team-high six combined tackles and interceptions.
With Arthur Melo often advancing from the pivot, Danilo had a lot of space to cover and while Salernitana aren’t a proficient counter-attacking side, their efforts were often snuffed out by the makeshift midfielder.
Overall, though, there’s no doubting that the return of the Danilo experiment was just a one-off. Allegri should have both Locatelli and Denis Zakaria to call upon after the international break.