Monday September 22 2014
Marchisio masterclass

After Juventus’ convincing win over Milan, Luca Persico looks at the emergence of Claudio Marchisio as an alternative to Andrea Pirlo.

Looking in from a distance, you could be forgiven for questioning what has changed at Juventus this season.

The Old Lady may have swapped Antonio Conte for Massimiliano Allegri, but still line up in their almost symbolic 3-5-2 and retain the same ruthlessness and sheer desire to win that has been drilled into them over the last three years.

With the new Serie A season just three games old, Juventus have already affirmed their place as the League’s benchmark, alongside Roma.

Wins against Chievo and Udinese eased the early pressure on Allegri, while Saturday’s 1-0 defeat of Milan highlighted Juventus’ strength and showed there to be a significant gap between them and a side who had been built up as Scudetto outsiders before the contest.

Such a run of results had become the norm under Conte and it would be understandable to assume Allegri has simply retained his methods and succeeded with continuity. To surmise the Livorno native’s work in such a way would, however, be unfair. Allegri has admittedly retained Conte’s blueprint, but has made notable tweaks that are giving Juventus a new outlook.

The desire to free up Carlos Tevez is the most notable alteration, but the reinvention of Claudio Marchisio is perhaps more intriguing. With Andrea Pirlo out injured for the opening weeks of season, Allegri has turned to the 28-year-old to fill in.

Marchisio had always been a more offensive midfielder for Juventus - usually from the left, but has embraced this new role, with his energy, positional sense and smart use of the ball has made the midfield more fluid. With Pirlo in the side, the build up would always go through him and he would play the decisive passes. Now, with Allegri preferring a more patient approach, Marchisio’s less ambitious, but neat passing has proven to be an excellent fit.

This season, he is averaging 99.3 passes at an accuracy of 89.9 per cent per game in Serie A, compared to just 37.2 [with 86.7 percent accuracy] last term. Those stats look even more impressive when put alongside Pirlo’s output of 69 passes per game at an 88.5 per cent accuracy last season.

Admittedly, Marchisio’s stats are drawn from a much smaller pool and are a reflection of Allegri’s desire for greater possession, but do suggest that he can be a worthy alternative to Pirlo. Perhaps, the most notable advantage of having Marchisio deep is reflected in his defensive output. This season, he has made 2.7 tackles per game - only Arturo Vidal’s made more.

One of the downsides of having Pirlo as a deep playmaker is his lack of defensive work and need for cover. With Marchisio, that isn't necessary and allows the two central midfielders alongside him to push higher, as Roberto Pereyra and Paul Pogba did to good effect against Milan. Marchisio's recovery rate also means he can support the attack, as he did to score in the win over Udinese and when he hit the post at San Siro.

Having Marchisio, a player who had an uncertain future 12 months ago and an uneventful 2013-14 season, coming to the fore gives Allegri another option, but also a potential dilemma.

With Pirlo set to return in the coming weeks, there is no guarantee that he will go straight into the side. Allegri, let’s not forget, felt Pirlo was unsuitable to the role at Milan and though he has since been proven wrong, Marchisio may be a better fit for his system, particularly in Europe where Juventus need to be more dynamic.

Whether Marchisio can displace Pirlo is unclear, but to have a worthy alternative to the great man is a nice headache for Allegri.

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Have your say...
I totally agree Marchissio should start in place of Pirlo, Judging from his current form. Pirlo. Sometimes loses the ball @ the edge of the eighteen yard box which is very dangerous. We cannot afford such mistakes against big teams in Europe. Marchissio on the other hand is younger, stronger and faster. But I must warm, form is temporal, while class is permanent. It is still too early to say if Marchissio should start ahead of Pirlo in all games.
on the 25th September, 2014 at 12:29pm
Marchisio is crucial for Juve and even more so for the Squadra Azzurra. Looking forward to seeing Italy playing with a 4-2-3-1 in future, having Macrhisio and Verratti as double playmakers and Mastour-Zaza -Berardi behind Immobile or Destro
on the 24th September, 2014 at 4:10pm
People were wrong to doubt Marchisio to begin with. Because of his multi-role nature, he was mostly used out of position in Italy and many times in Juve. We all saw what he and Vidal did in 11-12.

The simple truth is that Marchisio's play is largely affected by the tactics the manager decided to use. Once Conte started slowing things down and using the wings more, Marchisio couldn't really go at the defense like he used to.
on the 24th September, 2014 at 6:54am
I must say Marchisio has so far proven me wrong. I always thought of him as an average player,but credit must be given to him for filling Pirlo's shoes. He did play in this role under Conte but has greatly improved under Allegri so well done to Max. As for deposing Pirlo I think there shouldn't be a debate over this. When you have Vidal who never stops running then you can always afford to play Pirlo. Like "Gua" said,his freekicks could easily fetch u wins any day
on the 23rd September, 2014 at 6:02pm
Almost everybody seems so sure about Marchisio as a better choice in current 352, but I am not. I think Pirlo is still essential while playing for example UCL.
Well Machisio is surely much more dynamic, able to defend faster, but not much better. Attacking? Yes, Marchisio runs behind defenders, but if he would do it from the CDM position, there has to be someone instead of him there, so it is not an extra attacking midfielder. And don't forget Pirlo is maybe World's best dead ball specialist..
on the 23rd September, 2014 at 2:25pm
all i'm saying is let who deserves it start and right now it's marchisio, also in Europe speed and the ability to do all marchisio does(pass,attack and defend) is a little more important than peppering the field with nice looking passes but nothing else AT ALL.He literally looses the ball and walks back which is simply unacceptable. I love pirlo and he is a magician with the ball but manning a midfield nowadays is a little more than long passes.
on the 23rd September, 2014 at 8:03am
I think it's best with marchisio, we aren't as 1 dimensional and as expertly stated in this article marchisio does a couple of extremely important things that pirlo does not 1 is defend and the other is attack which pirlo simply doesn't EVER do.Those marchisio long distance screamers are what sometimes wins a game and most certainly has to draw defenders out on to him plus having another midfielder capable of scoring is always a plus, let's face it pirlo is in his final year anyway.
on the 23rd September, 2014 at 7:59am
No worries about La Nazionale settling on this system now, hopefully as we have Pirlo, Verratti and Marchisio as options and maybe De Rossi too, so don't have to worry about being one-dimensional and Pirlo-dependent and we can develop our identity under Conte. Only problem, if we go with three at the back, is the wing-backs.
on the 23rd September, 2014 at 7:56am
Agreed Marchisio is doing really well and is a terrific alternative to Pirlo. But also Pirlo is Pirlo. He's got pedigree in Europe and should start pretty much all important games in Europe.
on the 23rd September, 2014 at 3:45am
You have said, The desire to free up Carlos Tevez is the most notable alteration, but the reinvention of Claudio Marchisio is perhaps more intriguing.. Correct me if I am wrong, wasn't Marchisio in Pirlo's place tried last year many times by Conte first? I don't think it's Allegri's work.
on the 23rd September, 2014 at 1:37am
I think Marchisio is undroppable. Technically better than Vidal and a better athlete than Pirlo.
on the 23rd September, 2014 at 12:17am

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