Saturday February 6 2021
Juventus return to the future

Defensive performances made the difference in Juventus’ win against Roma and Lorenzo Bettoni argues Andrea Pirlo’s side is taking the form of Max Allegri’s team.

“These are the games where the soul of this group emerges.” Leonardo Bonucci’s words after Juventus-Roma perfectly described the Old Lady.
The Bianconeri beat Roma 2-0 at the Allianz Stadium thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo’s 16th gol in 17 Serie A goal games and a Roger Ibanez own goal.  Andrea Pirlo’s side kept their sixth clean sheet in the last seven games in all competitions and their impressive defensive record is surely the key for their run of form since the beginning of 2021.
They won nine matches out of 10 since the beginning of January, scoring 23 goals and conceding just seven.
Watching the Old Lady play lately, one would think Max Allegri has returned in the dug-out. Clearly, he hasn’t, but this Juventus side have once again found the identity they used to have during the five-year spell of the Tuscan tactician in Turin.
The return of Giorgio Chiellini has given the team more solidity and allowed Pirlo’s side to sit back and try to hit on counter attacks with quick transitions.
But there is more behind Juventus’ win against Roma. Cristiano Ronaldo is always lethal. He scored one and came close to netting the second, but hit the crossbar after a Marash Kumbulla deflection.
Arthur bossed the midfield and Adrien Rabiot put in a solid performance and had a 100% pass accuracy. Roma’s possession was way too sterile as Paulo Fonseca’s side were unable to convert it into goal scoring opportunities.
The Giallorossi were without their designated captain Lorenzo Pellegrini, the injured Chris Smalling and Pedro. 
Plus Edin Dzeko started on the bench after clearing the air with the Portuguese tactician and had a rather difficult evening once he entered the pitch in the second half.
Overall, Juventus’ win was fully deserved.
“We had prepared this type of match. We knew Roma play very good football, so we were prepared to sit back, defend and then go on the counter,” Pirlo told Sky Sport Italia.
One year ago, Bonucci and his teammates struggled to keep clean sheets. Maurizio Sarri had come in with the aim of giving the Old Lady a new, more offensive identity, but it didn’t quite work.
He wanted his players to press high up the pitch, trying to recover the ball as early as possible and be a constant threat in their opponents’ half.
The Old Lady had highs and lows, won their ninth straight Serie A title and reached a Coppa Italia final, which they lost on penalties to Napoli.
It was not enough for the former Chelsea boss to keep his job after an early elimination in the last 16 stage of the Champions League at the hands of Lyon.
Juventus players were not happy with his methods and they proved they could not cope with his idea of football.
Ironically, it was the same thing Pirlo demanded on his first day in charge of the Old Lady.
“I told the lads two things: you always have to keep the ball and when you lose it, you must get it back quickly,” he said at his unveiling back in August.
In all honesty, Juventus try to have this kind of approach against the so-called ‘smaller’ sides, but lately they have showed many common features with Max Allegri’s side. Especially when they play big games.
That doesn’t mean they play badly. On the contrary, that’s exactly what Juventus have been successfully doing over the last 20 years.
The game against Roma once again proved Juventus feel at ease sitting back. It’s their nature and, more importantly, it’s the nature of their defensive leaders, namely Bonucci and Chiellini. Defence is the best way of attack for Juventus, not the other way around.
While Roma defenders seemed disoriented every time Juventus attacked, Chiellini and Bonucci formed the usual outstanding defensive partnership and conceded literally no chances to Paulo Fonseca’s side.
The likes of Matthijs de Ligt and Merih Demiral may allow Pirlo to have a different approach, but thus far the good old Italians have proved to be the most reliable choices at the back.
They enjoy defending inside the box, as Chiellini himself explained earlier this week.
“I’m very pleased to win a duel,” he said. “When I block a dangerous shot or save a goal, I get an adrenaline rush.
“It’s a different joy from scoring, it’s not comparable, but those saves in the important games, I still have them inside me.” Every time he plays, he seems to pass it on to his teammates.
It happened against Roma and hopefully for Juventus, they will be able to keep this feeling alive also in the next big games of the season.
Have your say...
Juve still has the most team depth in Serie A,giving them the ability to play tactically
different depending on who they play. Few teams can match up if they do not or can not play their best players. Roma played well but could not finish at the goal as Ronaldo has done throughout his career.The next 2 weeks will be telling as they play in Coppa Italia, Serie A and Champions league. Can an aging Chiellini sustain his great play and stay healthy, its key for Juve as Pirlo finds his way forward.
on the 8th February, 2021 at 4:02pm
Juve's form has improved with Chiellini returning to fitness. His leadership qualities have been driving the team & Bonucci looks a different player when playing alongside him. It's also rubbing off on the midfield too, who in my opinion are still not the long term solution, but at the moment, are doing a job in giving providing for Ronaldo; as a result we're seeing a resurgence in their fortunes. Will it be enough come the end of the season? that remains to be seen? but never rule out Juve!
on the 8th February, 2021 at 3:36pm
From the start, my bias is that I'm a Juve-fan.

For me it seemed that Juve were ok with sitting back and try hitting Roma on the counter, which is almost shameful. Sure, Roma is a good team, but they should not outplay Juve's midfield so easily. It was really Romas ineffectiveness that kept them from scoring, somehow managing to make the wrong decision in the final third all the time. They had so many corners, so many good chances on Spinazzola's side.... Juve were lucky that Roma were so bad.
on the 8th February, 2021 at 1:40pm
The central defence was okay but the defensive midfielde had poor positional awareness and did not protect back 4 well esp in first half. We missed BENTANCUR as the has that discipline.
on the 8th February, 2021 at 5:05am
Return to the future? This style of play is good for your run of the mil garbage teams in Serie A only. Sorry Roma fans but you know that you were horrible in the final 3rd of that game. The only question here is if Roma really dominated the midfield or Juve let them. Arthur did not boss the midfield as mentioned, he was overrun and on the floor most of the time. Chiellini is getting old, when he can no longer play will Juve feel so confident sitting back against quality competition?
on the 7th February, 2021 at 10:50pm
What is this journalist saying where do they find journalist today juve got lucky on a cheap goal from Ronaldo Roma pressed entire game juve were lost all game and got lucky. The officiating is always an assist on juve part for non calls. This team is horrible and has been other then chiellini the team is atrocious. I mean look at the headlines all about a goal and juve win there is so much more to write about with the up coming spezia, benevento, the teams with real talent that are in shadows.
on the 7th February, 2021 at 7:24pm
@ Anonymous on the 7th February, 2021 at 8:00am

Just what I wanted to say.

Hopefully we won't lose either of them and it would be Bonucci who will leave.
on the 7th February, 2021 at 5:32pm
If Roma could buy Belotti and Perin or Cragno for next season + recover Zaniolo that's all they'd need to be competitive next season. They wouldn't win the league but they'd be a step closer and would have a young team with a great Italian core. They play good football under Fonseca but could do with Belottis aggression in attack and a much better keeper.
on the 7th February, 2021 at 10:39am
Horrible analysis, absolutely shambolic misrepresentation from the author.

The game yesterday and the one against Inter showed 2 different variations in Pirlo's strategy.

Against Inter, Pirlo knew (from the 2-0 league match loss) that a high-energy press and a more attacking variation of their offensive play would be necessary, or else Inter would gain a foothold in the tie. Whereas, yesterday Pirlo was content to defend and counter Roma whole night.

Diametrically opposite to Allegri.
on the 7th February, 2021 at 9:01am
Chiellini has been the difference in the last 5-6 games. Bonucci is still making mistakes but getting away with it because Giorgio cleans up for him. With Giorgio now 36 years of age, Juve needs to pair him up with De Ligt as much as possible for the young gun to learn as much from him in match conditions. I'm afraid we are going to use one of De Ligt or Demiral by consistently playing Bonucci ahead of them - they are the future, not Bonucci.
on the 7th February, 2021 at 8:00am
expected when we faced a very defensive team.
Roma played very well and dominated the game, it comes down to a quality of ronaldo that wins the match for juventus.

on the 7th February, 2021 at 3:54am

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