Massimiliano Allegri has a dilemma to solve.
Juventus have played some of their best football since switching to a 4-3-3 formation. Its success relies on the three central midfielders —Miralem Pjanic, Sami Khedira, and Blaise Matuidi — and two wingers, Mario Mandzukic and Juan Cuadrado. They transform a passive system into an aggressive zonal defense. They are brawny but also brainy enough to keep the offense clicking. The formation functions so well that it keeps Paulo Dybala, Juventus’ future franchise player, on the bench.
In 2018, Allegri needs another Mad Max-type idea to integrate Dybala back into the starting line-up.
A passive-aggressive zonal defense
The 4-3-3 formation empowers Juventus to defend in a passive but aggressive zone, and they are impeccable at doing so. They have conceded only one goal over the last eight weeks. Since switching to this formation against Napoli in early December, Juventus have limited the opponents to create around 40 percent fewer shots than their season averages. In the last five games, Allegri’s men have conceded only 8.45 normalized shots per game, 15 percent fewer than league leader Napoli (9.95 normalized shots per game).
Juventus’ defensive phase switches from a 4-4-2 to a 4-5-1 shape:
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