BLOG ITALIA
Friday April 22 2016
Juve’s midfield reshuffle

Claudio Marchisio’s injury left a gaping hole in the Juventus midfield. Luca Cetta analyses how the Bianconeri can minimise the loss.

Opening up a nine-point gap at the top of Serie A with a resounding 4-0 victory over Palermo should have been cause for celebration at Juventus. Instead, there was little to cheer last Sunday as Claudio Marchisio was stretchered from the field with what was later confirmed to be a serious knee injury.

The worst fears were realised when it was announced to be an anterior cruciate ligament injury, ending Marchisio’s season and his involvement in Euro 2016. The club stated he won’t be back in training until September. “I’m sorry for him,” Alessandro Del Piero stated, after speaking to Marchisio, “but he mustn’t forget that he’s young and - even if it sounds like a cliché - you come back stronger from injuries like this.”

Marchisio took over the role at the base of Massimiliano Allegri’s midfield trio vacated by Andrea Pirlo. While not an exact copy of the Maestro he has proved an important cog in the Bianconeri machine. According to WhoScored.com, only Leonardo Bonucci has made more passes, but nobody with as many games under their belt as Marchisio had his sort of accuracy – 88.5%. He may not have Pirlo’s range, but Marchisio was vital. Juve flowed through the Turin native.

The question for Juventus is, who fills the hole? Allegri proposed two names. “[Mario] Lemina and Hernanes are both in contention for the role in front of the defence,” he said on Tuesday. It was a position Juve had a tough time filling at the start of the term as Marchisio sat out with injury. Simone Padoin and Hernanes were utilised, neither to great effect. But Allegri has no qualms about giving the Brazilian another chance.

Hernanes started against Lazio on Wednesday, as the Old Lady cruised to a 3-0 success. It was just his eighth Serie A start of the campaign. The Brazilian looked assured, was readily involved and kept possession ticking over. In a match where Juve looked to dominate proceedings, the influence of Hernanes shone through.

Whereas this Sunday when the Bianconeri go to Fiorentina – a potential Scudetto decider depending on Napoli’s result at Roma a day later – the defensive steel of Lemina could sway Allegri. The Coach remarked only on Tuesday that Lemina was growing, but had to “improve his defensive game from a tactical point of view.”

Yet there can be no arguing against his ability to win the ball. His 2.3 tackles per game is the highest in the squad – not forgetting he’s made only eight League appearances. Against a Viola side normally so vibrant and determined in what will be their biggest match of the campaign, Lemina’s defensive ability will come into play, in addition to his tidiness on the ball.

Juventus had high hopes for the midfield trio of Marchisio, Sami Khedira and Paul Pogba this term. For one reason or another, mostly fitness related, the trident featured just 15 times in all competitions. Without the presence of Marchisio there will be greater responsibility for Sami Khedira and Paul Pogba. And both are brimming with confidence.

They each played a part in the goals on Wednesday. It was Pogba who fired the ball across for Mario Mandzukic to open the scoring. Then, Khedira centred for Paulo Dybala to finish it off past the hour mark. The pair both scored against Palermo last Sunday. Pogba has four goals and five assists in his last six matches, Khedira a goal and assist since returning from a two-match ban.

Rather than feel shackled by the weight of expectation as at the start of the season, Pogba is enjoying his football and the results are evident. Meanwhile, Khedira has shaken off the fitness concerns which dogged his early months. He has played his way into form as the season has progressed. The pair must continue in this vein over the final month.

Rumours have linked Juventus with a Marchisio replacement for next term, somebody who can help fill the gap until the No 8 is fit and firing. That may not be until 2017. For now, while losing Marchisio is a big blow, Allegri does have options in reserve and two players in fine form.

Have your say...
Correct, the rules have changed this year. Juve-Napoli direct record is a tie no matter what you look at. Away goals no longer count as an advantage. Next tiebreaker is overall goal difference. It's not going to go that in my opinion. Juve can wrap it up this weekend. Two scenarios:
1. Juve beat Fiore and Napoli doesn't beat Roma
2. Juve draws Fiore, Napoli loses to Roma
on the 24th April, 2016 at 2:17am
@Adam An article posted on FI specifically mentioned that Juventus have the advantage due to head-to-head, probably safe to assume away goals matter if that was true.

In this case, it's wiki+recent news vs that. I guess we could assume away goals don't count then but I'm not entirely convinced. Certainly not curious enough to test it, I'd take the 4 points or let Napoli falter.
on the 23rd April, 2016 at 12:57am
Always felt Marchisio's strengths lie somewhere else on the pitch. Can't get that goal against Inter out of my head. Maybe this layoff will help him and the club review his role. Time and again we have had a hard time carving up stubborn defences. Far too often Mandzukic, Morata have to drop too deep to collect balls rather than benefiting from a more natural flow to our game. Hopefully the club will not just look for little tweaks but create a solid blueprint for future buys.
on the 22nd April, 2016 at 10:06pm
Not sure if head to head will matter rules for serie a...

Points; 2) Head-to-head points; 3) Head-to-head goal difference; 4) Head-to-head goals scored; 5) Goal difference;

Head to head points is 3-3
Head to head goal diff level
Head to head goals is 2-2 with no mention of away goals?
Goal difference is close

So I would say 4 points, source wiki though so could be wrong?
on the 22nd April, 2016 at 9:43pm
4 matches left and 9 points advantage, it means Juve need only 3 more points to win the Scudetto thanks to their superior head-to-head results against Napoli. Yes, just 3 points. It's pretty much beyond Napoli's reach practically so I don't really worry about Marchisio's absence. Time for experiments now. Pogba is the ideal replacement, his range of passing is better than Marchisio's, better vision and long shot too. He needs to work more on decision making and defensive positioning but hey...
on the 22nd April, 2016 at 9:01pm
hernanes is the most like for like replacement i think. With him more experienced campaigner like asamoah or even pogba should be playing there to ensure the base remain strong as they are nearing the touchline.. After that i recommend some changes should be made in midfield in terms players bringing in & out. Juve should go all out to keep pogba for another year with bringing krychowac, calhanglou as a replacement for vidal, trying to lure gundogan would be waste of time. Should send lemina & stuararo out on loan; pereyra migh be sold out. Juventas should'nt done the same mistakes again in next season...
on the 22nd April, 2016 at 5:37pm
It's hard to forget Hernanes's start. Not impossible, though. He can manage to fill for Marchisio, but never replace him. There's room for improvement in attack if he can't defend as well.

Lemina, at least recently compared to our rocky start, has positively surprised me. I still hesitate to sign him outright despite how he really moves the midfield (Pereyra, for example of a loan gone wrong). Considering Marchisio's absence though, maybe we should.
on the 22nd April, 2016 at 1:25pm
"a potential Scudetto decider depending on Napoli’s result at Roma a day later"

Is the Scudetto really depending on the Napoli's result? I mean, if Juve win on Sunday, they'll be at least +9 with 3 games remaining. They have better H2H, so Napoli'd need to get at least 10 points more then Juve. Long story short, if Juve win, game's over. I'm not saying they will, but it'd be pretty fitting to secure the Scudetto in front of the beloved Viola crowd.
on the 22nd April, 2016 at 11:06am
To be fair they only need four pints to win league so they could get away with playing Hernanes or Lemina, Personally I think they could play Pogba in front of defence for couple of games and play Sturaro.
on the 22nd April, 2016 at 9:27am

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Your data may be made public and you accept our Privacy Policy. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.