Tuesday January 29 2019
Juve midfield not Champions quality

Once the cornerstone of Juventus strength, the midfield has now become their main flaw in pursuit of the Champions League, argues Ramez Nathan.

Juve's path back to greatness began with Antonio Conte seven years ago. The Italian tactician had just arrived after leading Siena to promotion and was about to start the most challenging journey with the Old Lady.

We all know the story, they'd been back in Serie A for five campaigns failing to achieve any silverware and their former captain guided them to three successive Scudetti, including an unbeaten run in their first title.

Why are we recalling that story? Well, that summerGiuseppe Marotta signed two new midfielders for the Bianconeri: Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo.

As the season started Conte was planning on running the same formation that helped Siena jump back to Serie A, his 4-2-4, yet when he watched Vidal, Pirlo and the club's homegrown Claudio Marchisio, he opted to shift his formula to three central midfielders.

The trio later became known as 'MVP', Marchisio and Vidal broke defensive lines with their slaloming runs and incredible sleight-of-foot, while Pirlo was the mastermind, the maestro who composed the style of play by spreading shrewd passes.

Each of them ended that season directly involved in 10+ goals, and as crucial as Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini were in that system, this midfield seemed to be equally significant.

Later on, Paul Pogba joined that well-oiled machine and they kept creating chances and slamming goals to form arguably one of the best midfields in the history of Italian football.

Since then, Juventus have massively improved their full-backs, replacing the likes of Paolo De Ceglie and Federico Peluso with Alex Sandro, while acquiring the unstoppable Joao Cancelo on the right flank last summer.

We don't even need to start speaking about the gems Juventus currently have upfront and all this shows how much the club has invested in signing top quality players to aim for European glory.

However, if you watched the tie against Lazio last Sunday, you clearly saw how Juve's players were clueless in the middle of the park. Cancelo managed to save the day, but the question remains can Massimiliano Allegri triumph in Europe with this midfield?

The Turin giants once had the finest box to box midfielders in the sport, now they are clearing lacking the characteristics of a player that could boss the game with his intelligent passes and driving runs.

Allegri once claimed Sami Khedira is among the world's best for his ability to read the game. Nobody can deny the incredible work rate of Blaise Matuidi, while Rodrigo Bentancur obviously has a lot of potential and maybe Emre Can still needs more time. Yet apart from Miralem Pjanic, can you picture any Juventus midfielder starting regularly for the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich?

If they want to conquer Europe, they need to become the biggest dog in the yard and in order to achieve that, Juventus require those midfielders that can reach double figures in goals or assists. It speaks volumes that none of the current crop have been involved in more than three goals this campaign.  

That might also explain the oddly sterile way Juventus go about their football, as star strikers like Cristiano Ronaldo score goals, but only a sharp midfield can make the team tick.

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Have your say...
I don't agree! Juve has really good midfield because Pjanic, Matuidi and Khedira are top class. Pjanic and Khedira have been in bad form previously this season, but the German is kind of player who can't play good all season long and needs rest. I see big improvement in his appearances recently and he will be a huge asset for the most important matches. Bentancur is still growing, he has big potential, while Can simply can't find himself at Juve.I agree with the most of the writers about Ramsey.
on the 13th February, 2019 at 2:00pm
I agree with CG. I don't agree with decision to let Marchisio go just to get Ramsey. Something is a miss a juve. Juve don't usually do business like this.
on the 2nd February, 2019 at 7:06pm
I am a juve fan since 1987 and the writer has got this article spot on. And adding people like Ramsey does not improve our quality. We need greater midfielders esp a number 10. Consider James Rodriguez. Meanwhile, I am happy Benatia has left coz now Rugani can get his chance. Consider Sandro Tonali.
on the 2nd February, 2019 at 7:02pm
In my opinion the writer is perfectly right in his conclusions. Especially Khedira and Can have ben awful - and that is NOT a new thing for Khedira! Furthermore I dont understand Why noone mention the biggest disaster namely Rugani. I simply dont understand why he is playing in this team at all. Talent? Kiss my a...
on the 2nd February, 2019 at 4:03pm
this article has shown the real prob, however its not as big as it was shown,
Juve’smidfield is the weakest line having such a good diffence and attack, but when pianic is in shape he can make the difference but he dont have the support that is why the opposition can mark pianic and therefore all the midfield will be clueless.
Juve need to get another world calss midfielder like isco veratti...
All that said juve are still favorite to win the UCL If they ll have mandzo and pianic in shape.
on the 2nd February, 2019 at 10:26am
Doesn't bode well for Serie A teams in CL with Roma and Juve shipping 10 goals between them in 2 games. Strange Juve have strengthened all over except midfield really, wonder did Ronaldo becoming available bump other signings they had planned. Juve will need to spend big to hold their place in Europes top 5 in the summer as Mandzukic, Chiellini and Ronaldo aren't getting younger and Dybala just seems off and stagnating.
on the 31st January, 2019 at 12:12am
I think Juve's midfield stagnation is very much a wider problem affecting the modern game.

Midfield creativity has been replaced by a much more cautious approach where muscularity and the ability to run are more valued than the ability to hit a pinpoint pass onto an angled run. The responsibility to pick out strikers has been handed to attacking wing-backs and the problem with this is that crosses lack precision.

Allegri often plays 3 holding midfielders in games he knows Juve will dominate.
on the 30th January, 2019 at 10:27pm
Bentancur - Pjanic - Matuidi is a decent line up and has quantity + quality. but the germans only add quantity and zero quality. that's why Ramsey is coming to replace one of the 2 germans ( Khedira ) and add some quality
If Pjanic is out for any of the CL matches then Juve will be out
on the 30th January, 2019 at 8:40pm
lol if we had mvp with the current squad it would be a different story. yes the value of our midfield decreased but alot of juventini dont give matuidi the credit he deserves. cleans up mistakes, recovers balls and gives us that grit energy to to keep fighting just like vidal and edgar davids. the rest of the midfield is questionable n pjanic is slow and weak and inst consistent hence why he is first to go when is time to improve the midfield. Can has the potential and ability.
on the 30th January, 2019 at 5:22pm
Finally somebody speaks out. Juventus biggest problem is their midfield. and thats why they have always struggles in champion league all 5 midfielders sucks. Their biggest mistake was spending 100 millions to Ronaldo as well as paying him alot of money. He has added nothing to the team. The money could have been used to but 2 quality midfielders like Kroos/ Veratti/ Allan / Savic/Isco.
on the 30th January, 2019 at 1:13pm
@Maldini's Heir. Do you watch Juve's game or just the highlights? I wish teams in Serie A would keel over and just give up against Juventus but it seems every team plays their absolute best against us to prove a point. How many teams have had their games of the season against Juve this year?
on the 30th January, 2019 at 5:25am
Isco, who is out of favour at Real, could be quite a player at Juve.

A midfield of him, Pjanic and one from Bentancur/Matuidi could be excellent.

You get the feeling Juve always have one flaw that holds them back from winning the CL, and this season is no different despite them being one of the favs.

A Madrid will be a serious hurdle too.
on the 30th January, 2019 at 5:20am
I totally agree with this article- our midfield is our biggest weakness. While we can get away with its frailty in Serie A, when we come up against better teams in the CL we're going to be exposed. The best midfield we had in the latest past was in 2015 with Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio and Pogba to a certain extent, and they weren't good enough to win it all. CR7 won't be able to save us every time.....
on the 30th January, 2019 at 3:21am
@worthless you think it is fair to say that you want marchisio to have a limited role after he unfairly rode the bench after giving all to Juve. After Marchisio's injury he should've reclaimed his spot in midfield, Allegri is just a mercenary and does not value. Juve fan's are like promiscuous men, you want what you had in front of you only when it is gone. Go $pend on M-Savic and Zaniolo so they can be the future benchwarmers. Juve won't make it past Atleti with este midfield, let alone fin
on the 30th January, 2019 at 12:43am
Juve won't win the Champions League, partly because they lack certain quality but mainly because they are not being challenged at home. Sure Lazio went close but it seems that when Italian teams play Juve they somehow lose all faith in themselves and humanity and roll over and die. The only way Juve will lose a Serie A match is if they start knocking in own goals. Does anyone think Juve won't make it to 10 titles in a row? If so, what's the point of watching Serie A for the rest of this decade?
on the 29th January, 2019 at 11:34pm
I think both Bentacur and Pjanic are fantastic players. Matiudi just helped France win the World Cup. That said, something isn't clicking and in my opinion, our two German midfielders are worthless and I don't expect Ramsay to help too much. I wish Juve still had Marchiso to play an off the bench role when fit.
on the 29th January, 2019 at 9:31pm
Pjanic is THE man in Juve's midfield, when he's not there they suffer. Matuidi is solid and Betancur has a future, but Khedira and Can imo are not good enough to win UCL.

Juve had Pirlo and Pogba, two game changers, and now the midfield has no game changers.
A complete midfielder with quality in the final third is what the doctor ordered. SMS or Zaniolo maybe? Rakitic too but unlikely. Not sure about Ramsey really.
Marchisio deserved to stay.
on the 29th January, 2019 at 8:21pm
Jat - your lineup with Dybala instead of Isco doesn't give more defensive work.
Having two muscle-runners in the midfield gives us less creativity. But more protection.
on the 29th January, 2019 at 2:14pm
@Marko I also never understood why Bayern sold Vidal? I would still gladly take him over any of Bayern's current midfielders.
PS. And also D. Costa ;-)
on the 29th January, 2019 at 1:11pm
Allegri seems to favor playing (when fit) Khedira (who is terrible), Pjanic and Matuidi together....the issue here is that Pjanic is the only one of the three who can actually pass. I would love to see Bentancur & Pjanic behind Dybala, Douglas Costa and Ronaldo with Mario up top. I feel we will run into the same issue with the Ramsey signing....he isnt good enough box to box to play as a number 8 or as good as Dybala to play as a 10. STOP going after free transfers and take Thiago from Bayern
on the 29th January, 2019 at 12:34pm
I am sure, that Vidal was sold because of discipline issues
beside that, yes, he is dynamic and full of energy, still miss too many chances
on the 29th January, 2019 at 11:58am
If Juve's midfield is so clueless, as you say, why are they +11 in the league and in the CL knock-out stage? Shouldn't this article be about Inter?
on the 29th January, 2019 at 11:17am
The starting 3 midfielders are very good but the problem is when pjanic is not playing there is no one else in the midfield that can dictate the game so juventus lose the ball repeatedly when the opposition presses them. Bentancur has improved a lot but needs to step up in the absence of Pjanic. Emre Can has such a poor first touch its incredible im not sure how he made it professional with such bad ball control. Another technical player in midfield is needed.
on the 29th January, 2019 at 10:55am
@John Smith
This lineup would get killed defensively. We might witness games with 5 or 6 or even 7 goals but it is not going to be always Juve on top.
on the 29th January, 2019 at 10:49am
... that is why Isco 70-80 mill and Savic 70-90 mill are needed. Sell a couple of fringe players and that is an 120-130 outlay.
Cancelo, Chiellini, Bonucci, Sandro
Pjanic, Savic, Isco
Dybala, Mandzukic, Ronaldo
on the 29th January, 2019 at 9:38am
I never understood why they sold Vidal? I would still gladly take him over any of Juve's current midfielders..
on the 29th January, 2019 at 9:33am
The linked problem is that they pay 80 million euro a year (salary + amortization) for a Ronaldo clearly on the decline. It will be hard to revolutionize this midfield when so many eggs are rotting in one basket.
on the 29th January, 2019 at 9:18am
Thats true. It seems like they dont know to move the ball forward and read the game. The only thing they can is back pass and back pass. They are not only lacking of high quality midfielder but quantity as well. How many midfieder they have now? 5. Thats not even enough to compete in 3 competitions, we want to win all. CL is not enough. Please paratici and nedved give us new midfielder this winter
on the 29th January, 2019 at 8:58am
Totally agreed, with this midfield Juve can't win Champions League sadly. Since Pirlo's departure and there's a lack in play making and there is no one to fill this gap. When Juve reached the final again against Real Madrid it was because they had strong wingers: Dani Alves and Alex Sandro. This season and even the previous one Alex Sandro has become useless during offence only good as defender which is not helping at all.
on the 29th January, 2019 at 7:56am
Please can articles be written by someone who knows something about football?
on the 29th January, 2019 at 7:37am

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