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...
100% in agreement. Vs Lazio, Emre Can showed his limited ability. Khedira is great, but past his best. Bentancur is way too young and will never be a superstar. Matuidi is a breaker, not a creator. Pjanic can't carry the entire team by himself. Letting go of Marchisio was a mistake. And I'm not convinced that Ramsey will give us that jump in quality.We needed Kroos….
on the 29th January, 2019 at 6:19am
The commentary is an example of lazy analysis and somewhat lack of knowledge of the midfield craft. I went through nine paragraphs until I got to the part of the Lazio game, which does not correlate with the rest of those paragraphs. It was a poor transition, and I felt like I have fallen from a 100-story building. If one game suggests the entire midfield has crumbled, then it means you have been watching cricket. I was hoping you would have outlined a series of lackluster matches or player
on the 29th January, 2019 at 4:12am
How Juve has changed their midfield and attack!
Conte had MVPP, but relied on Matri & Vucinic upfront. And remember Bendtner, Anelka...?
Now Allegri has CR7, Dybala and great depth in Mandzukic, Costa, Bernardeschi & Cuadrado, but watching Khedira makes me sick! If Khedira really "reads the game" so well, he'd better read from the stand, or retire to become a coach.
on the 29th January, 2019 at 2:55am
Juve had *enough* quality. The problem lies in Allegri. He doesn't know how to utilize his own materials.
on the 29th January, 2019 at 2:38am

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