Tuesday August 4 2020
Plus ca change for Juve

Juventus fans and Maurizio Sarri will fear very little has realistically changed since the first leg defeat to Lyon, writes Kaustubh Pandey.

After the 1-0 loss to Lyon in the first leg of the Round of 16 of the Champions League, Maurizio Sarri seemed frustrated that his Juventus team couldn’t move the ball much quicker in midfield. That indeed was true, as the Bianconeri looked drab and rusty in the heart of the park and Lyon were happy to restrict them to playing harmless sideways passes for a majority of the game. A Lucas Tousart goal was enough to hand the French side a 1-0 victory. It was perhaps ironic that Houssem Aouar had to assist Lucas Tousart for the goal, considering how Juve were looking at him for the dynamism he brings to the midfield.

With the second leg now approaching, nothing much has changed. Juve have won the Scudetto and a case can be made that they tiptoed over the line, even though the losses to losses to Roma and Cagliari can be ignored. There have been games post-lockdown when they have looked like a Sarri team that can unlock defences with slick passing from midfield. There have also been games when they’ve looked the same drab Juve that lost to Lyon. The defeat to Udinese was an example of how teams can find it easy to see them pass the ball around and they can sit deeper themselves.

Amidst all of this, Paulo Dybala has been vastly important to helping Juve ‘move the ball quicker’ in midfield. He drops deep and either using a penetrative pass or a dribble into the final-third, he cuts open the opposition defence like no other player can. When Aaron Ramsey plays in attacking midfield, this process is better as the Welshman’s midfield movement proves annoying for the opposition.

Rodrigo Bentancur has been one of the success stories of the 2019-20 season and he has learned the art of holding his own in midfield, circulating possession and often winning the ball back. The Uruguayan can often make in-roads into the attack and his assists tally of seven shows how effective he can be in that regard. He possesses a versatile nature that saw Sarri use him in the regista role for Miralem Pjanic earlier in the season.

The precision in movement and passing that these three provide will be crucial in the second leg. Adrien Rabiot has impressed post-lockdown and he now seems to be understanding the system a lot better than he used to. He has been seen showing off his ability to carry the ball into the advanced positions and the manner in which he cuts through the opposition has been catching them off-guard.

In these four, Sarri seems to have found a core group of players who can make his system tick from midfield. He didn’t have this core performing in cohesion pre-lockdown and it showed against Lyon. Rudi Garcia’s men looked threatening on the break in their recent penalty shootout loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the Coupe de la Ligue. They did try to play out from the back, but couldn’t always do that efficiently.

It was their first competitive game in four months and the trio of Aouar, Moussa Dembele and Memphis Depay did threaten on the counter-attack, with the Dutchman failing to find the final ball on many occasions. Those are signs that the French side would rely on quick attacking transitions whenever they win the ball back. This could mean that Juve get a lot of the ball, especially as they play in Turin in the second leg of the tie.

In Cristiano Ronaldo, they certainly have someone who has knows the art of turning Champions League ties around. He did that against Atletico Madrid last season, grabbing a hat-trick in a Federico Bernardeschi-inspired performance. He, along with the four core midfield players, will be huge for Juve in the second leg.

It has been a natural case of Sarri finding his most reliable players with the passage of time. For many, it was bound to happen at some point and probably has now. The Old Lady’s hope should be that Rabiot, Bentancur, Ramsey and Dybala tick from midfield and help Ronaldo score in another vital CL game.

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Have your say...
@Tommaso 1) It makes for better reading. I can reduce the line spacing to newline, but FI doesn't have syntax tags or BB Code, which makes text with newline appear like one text block. Very unpleasant. 2) Quoting my comment in part only, really? 
on the 7th August, 2020 at 6:00am
Finicky pinteruccio.

1. Why do you have 2 lines between every paragraph?

2. I quote "the advert for an editor on the front page elicits requirements from fluency in at least 3 languages".

From fluency? Really, really? you use horrendous grammar like that but think you have the right to criticise others. Get off your high horse mate but please be careful. Dont want you losing your balance and falling what with that massive chip on your shoulder.
on the 6th August, 2020 at 6:46pm
What a sad man you must be with no life that needs to spend his time pointing out the GRAMMATICAL errors of bloggers on this wonderful website that provides its readers a chance to express themselves.
How does it go;
Great minds discuss ideas
Average minds discuss events

on the 6th August, 2020 at 3:46pm
@FerretBrained TorreDG

Grammar is spelled with an 'a', not an 'e'; it's "grammar" and not "grammer" (my built-in autocorrect is raising red flags at the typo of grammer).

But then, I don't expect a guy who doesn't know the spelling of grammar to know anything about perfection, professionalism, or meticulousness... Run along, punk, go cry in a corner with your dungeon cohabitants and perpetual trolls like 'Serie B'.

on the 6th August, 2020 at 8:43am
What nonsense: bloggers criticizing a blog that fine writers of the game give their best to football fans that love the game and Serie A
Beware: watch your grammer and spelling the PC mob of @pinturccchio and his cohort @jay will point out your foibles much like they do on Twitter looking to harrass everyone they don't agree with, How sad and pathtetic.
Stick to the game and try to make a positive contribution to the website, the game and its many fans
Thank you Football Italia.
on the 5th August, 2020 at 5:10pm
Pinturicchio does have a very valid point though!!
How about this one for a gem? 'Gardia defends Sarri: 'He won' '. It's GARCIA!! GARCIA!! letter 'C' is right below the letter 'D' on the keyboard. Get it right!!
on the 5th August, 2020 at 1:27pm
on the 5th August, 2020 at 12:11am
@Pinturicchio... Here you go again, you are keep bashing FI staff for their journalism or their opinions in every damn article and YET you still here. Just stop reading if it bothers you, can you? is that hard? AND if you think you can do much better than them, they are hiring for god sake, go ahead and write your opinions and prove them wrong. Show them only you know better than them! ... it is just Hilarious!!!
on the 4th August, 2020 at 10:01pm
JJ is a bit like Zlatan-era Inter. Maybe Ronaldo scores and they win, or he doesn't and they lose, but they never play very well.
Sarri desperately needs a couple more ball players to have any chance of implementing a system.
on the 4th August, 2020 at 8:51pm
Juve are getting closer to solving their midfield problems. If Bentancur, Rabiot and Dybala continue to improve and Arthur turns out to be a great signing then they will be on the right path. Jury is still out on Ramsey I haven't seen enough of him to pass judgement. Patience is required at this point. We'll definitely see what's up against Lyon but I still think they are 1 midfielder short at this point.
on the 4th August, 2020 at 5:02pm
This blog/site is really horrendous and falling apart like a house of cards...

The copious and pathetic articles penned by absolute dilettantes, not to mention the haberdashery of the articles' grammar and syntax reeks of utter subpar amateurism.

And to think of it, the advert for an editor on the front page elicits requirements from fluency in at least 3 languages along with almost a decade's worth of professional journalistic experience.

on the 4th August, 2020 at 1:03pm
Juve will need to replace Higuain, Ramsey and Rabiot in the transfer window. You cant win CL with so much mediocrity.
on the 4th August, 2020 at 12:36pm
I would offer that the ideal formation in attack for this game is a trident of Ronaldo,Higuain & Dybala. Rambo has not shown his ability yet for Juve and does not offer much in the defensive phase anyway.

The more things change, the more they stay the same - Plus ca change
on the 4th August, 2020 at 11:48am
‘Plus ca change for Juve‘

Great headline guys. Come on... just lazy
on the 4th August, 2020 at 11:00am

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