There is this notion that Paul Pogba is a “bad” or a “lazy” defender, but I think most Juventini do not buy into this reductive analysis. After all, Pogba would regularly average more than two tackles per game during his time in Turin, covering plenty of ground in the midfield to win back possession for his team.
But now that he is getting older and more prone to injury, Pogba has to play a different role. He cannot be as active defensively and is more of an anchor, though his reading of the game and technique in the tackle remain strong. It’s no surprise that when performing a role that suits him better in a team that cares for him more, Pogba is a more productive – and willing – defender for France than for Manchester United.
Though, the advantage here goes to Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. He is stronger and faster than Pogba, and he is the definition of a box-to-box midfielder. SMS can offer what Adrien Rabiot can’t, but he can also offer the ball-winning that leads to Max Allegri playing the embattled Frenchman frustratingly frequently.
Milinkovic-Savic’s defensive numbers are especially impressive in the Champions League and Europa League, showing that when Lazio need a defensive approach, they can count on one of their most prolific attacking players to step up in that regard. Juventus would greatly appreciate that.
Advantage: Sergej Milinkovic-Savic