Juventus will be preparing to go another round with a young talented Ajax side – who are looking to emulate the Bernabeu night in Turin – this Tuesday evening. For the Bianconeri not to fall into the usual trap of complacency and their conservative approach, the Italians must ensure they start in-form Moise Kean for this season-defining fixture. The versatility of the 19-year-old can add more dynamism in that frontline, making life more complicated for the Ajax defenders than in the first leg.
Even with Cristiano Ronaldo, who is arguably the biggest difference maker in the knockout stages of the Champions League, this Juve side might still require Kean’s presence to secure a spot in the semi-finals.
Only a couple of months ago, it was unexpected that Massimiliano Allegri would have this dilemma. Juve fans and the Italian media were aware of Kean’s potential, but little did they know the youngster’s emergence would be so soon, especially in a team already loaded with firepower up front.
If Allegri didn’t opt to play Kean in the game against Udinese last month, we might not have been having this discussion. It was that first half brace against the Friulani that saw Kean’s senior career take off, little realising he would suddenly be a threat to the likes of Douglas Costa, Federico Bernardeschi, Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic for a place in the starting XI. If Kean can be the Serie A champions’ wildcard for the Ajax game, here are the reasons Allegri should directly place him in the starting line-up.
Kean’s explosive pace has been a valuable asset for the Bianconeri frontline so far, posing a severe threat for several Serie A defenders. The Italian international’s speed often encourages the Old Lady to play at a much faster tempo, which is the exact playing style the team needs to use to match the pace of the Ajax youngsters.
In the 1-1 draw in Amsterdam, Juventus could have used Kean’s pace when the game was speeding up. Douglas Costa provided a spark with his speed and dribbling qualities down the left flank when he came on, but the Brazilian winger is expected to miss the second leg due to injury. With Kean capable of being deployed as a winger, the Bianconeri starlet could play on one of the wings in a 4-3-3 formation.
With Mandzukic currently experiencing a goal drought and not playing like the true warrior he is, it’s not absurd to suggest that Kean could start ahead of the Croatian and play in his more preferred centre-forward role. Mandzukic has looked less threatening and often gone missing in big games so far this season, especially in Europe. There needs to be a back-up goal-scorer for Ronaldo.
A trident attack of Ronaldo, Kean and Bernardeschi is a potential option Allegri could decide to field, Dybala also being interchangeable with Bernardeschi. This combination could be a fruitful one for the Juve tactician, especially with all these three attackers possessing the technical qualities.
Over the last month, Kean has been the most clinical forward for La Vecchia Signora, netting six goals in six league games. The Vercelli-born youngster also boasts that poacher’s threat, as we witnessed when he took the sting out of the games against Empoli, Cagliari, Milan and SPAL at the weekend. The Azzurri prodigy plays with impressive physicality – holding the ball well in the 18-yard box and using great strength to fend off defenders.
Competing against a motivated and energetic Ajax team, Juve will also need Kean’s hard work ethic off the ball – pressing those opposition defenders to force mistakes in goal-scoring territory. Kean’s talent could potentially cause several problems for Ajax centre-backs Matthijs de Ligt and Daley Blind, disrupting the Dutch side’s overall flow.
It is imperative that Allegri chooses to start Moise Kean for this pivotal game with Ajax. The young forward may not boast much Champions League experience, but he unquestionably possesses the goal-scoring qualities to finish this tie.
Juventus shouldn’t rest on their away goal advantage, nor play an ultra-attacking game like the comeback against Atletico Madrid. With the tie still in the balance, the stage is set for Moise Kean to have a European night to remember.