3. Struggling to find solutions out wide
Since Federico Chiesa was lost for the season, Juventus have been reliant on veteran Cuadrado and the advancement of full-backs Mattia De Sciglio and Luca Pellegrini to offer width down the flanks.
As we noted earlier, Juventus initially struggled mightily to create any superiorities out wide against Bologna on Saturday before eventually becoming way too reliant on crosses as a means of finding an equaliser. By the end of the contest, Juventus had completed 25 crosses, of which only four were successful.
In this instance, it was a matter of delivering and praying Vlahovic or Morata could get their head on it. Eventually, the former did and it was the latter who supplied the shot-cum-cross in acrobatic fashion.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with being reliant on crosses in the attacking third. However, problems arise when the ploy has been aimlessly devised. For example, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, particularly during their two title-winning seasons of 2017/18 and 2018/19, scored a heap of goals from cut-backs and driven crosses across the six-yard box. But, they knew exactly how to work the optimal position for the cross, what player would be delivering the ball, and who would likely be finishing the chance off.
This starkly contrasts Allegri’s Juve, where there is no plan of action. And while superior personnel might aid the Bianconeri’s ability to create from wide areas, the problem lies deeper and at the feet of the manager.
Nevertheless, Weston McKennie’s injury has hurt from this perspective. The American is an excellent interpreter of space, shrewd in the opposition’s box and great in the air. Manuel Locatelli, meanwhile, when deployed in a more advanced role, could provide the requisite penetration and delivery that Kevin De Bruyne did for those imperious City sides from the right half-space.
But, as I just noted, personnel improvement is just a part of it. Fixing Juve’s faltering attack has to be approached holistically with greater synchronicity and deeper cohesion needed.
The 1-1 draw against Bologna this weekend was a microcosm of the types of issues that this team has suffered through for long stretches of this season. Poor creative play in the middle of the park, no help for their star player in front of goal, and inefficient service from out wide have compromised Juventus this term.
If the team isn’t careful, this Bologna blip won’t be the last to occur this season as the team looks to secure a UCL berth once again.