Juventus had quite a successful transfer window bringing the likes of Matthijs de Ligt, Aaron Ramsey, Merih Demiral and Adrien Rabiot. Players who are expected to bring solidity and freshness to the team’s performance and fill in the gaps that stopped the team from reaching Champions League success. Signings that seemed logical and needed.
Their latest signing, though, didn’t seem the most logical one at first. Juventus sold one of their best players João Cancelo to Manchester City and in return, they were joined by the Brazillian defender Danilo.
It didn’t seem like the most logical one because Cancelo was extremely helpful on the flanks and offered great support to the front line. What was lacking in his performance though was his defensive awareness. The team were often exposed on the wide sides and had to re-structure their defensive line in order to cover his position.
Danilo might be able to offer enough support to the backline, but he definitely is a different type of player.
Dominating both flanks
Most probably Danilo is going to be used as a full-back on either side, as he has the ability to play both on the left and on the right. As it seemed in Juventus’ pre-season defeat by Atletico Madrid, Sarri might not only use him as a replacement of Cancelo but as an overall defensive option, especially when he is short on players. This would allow the manager to rotate players; decreasing the risk of injuries and allowing them to get some rest in order to put a better performance. This would be extremely helpful having in mind that the Bianconerri are going to juggle between Serie A and Champions League once again.
Despite being right-footed, he performs great as a left-back too due to his strong passing abilities and ball control. He averaged 89,9% passing accuracy per 90 minutes last season, despite being injured in the majority of the time. This would fit perfectly to Juve’s and Sarri’s tactics to build-up from the back and hold on to the ball as much as possible. Using Danilo’s pass precision and abilities on the ball they could calmly dictate the tempo and allow the game in their defensive third in order to be able to build-up smoothly.
His physicality would add to his performance, as even when being pressured and man-marked he tends to stay calm and retain possession. In cases, his team are out of possession he always has the hunger to win the ball back and dives into tackles.
Giving Juventus some options
Danilo’s versatility in terms of playing on different positions is impressive. He could fit quite a few formations and positions which makes him a valuable addition to the squad.
Apart from his most common full-back position, he could expectedly transform into wing-back when using three-man defence. That is not something uncommon, having in mind the attacking nature of the full-backs nowadays. Sarri is not the type of coach to use back-three frequently, but knowing he has some options on the flanks is good enough.
What is more interesting is him playing as a wide centre-back in a three-man defensive line. Danilo often dives into tackles and he could be of help staying at the back and trying to gain back possession when needed. He wins an impressive 65,6 per cent of his defensive duels, which automatically makes him a better defensive option than Cancelo, plus half of his aerial duels are won too.
To add to that, his 11,68 recoveries per game are proof of his concentration and mentality. He is a player who won’t just let the ball pass through him without putting a fight. The Brazillian would allow the team to be more comfortable during defensive transitions as he has the needed pace and timing to get back on his position whenever the team loses possession.
As already mentioned, he is a great passer, which could find him in a completely different position. Due to his abilities to distribute the ball all over the pitch and stay near to the midfield line despite his deep position, he might be good support as a defensive midfielder.
Positioning a little further and working as a support to the deep-lying playmaker, in Juve’s case Miralem Pjanić, might turn out as a successful one. He would provide more passing options and give Pjanic the freedom to enter the more advanced areas. The strategy of Danilo guarding the backline whilst Pjanić is able to roam free upfront, could be extremely useful when attacking teams employing high defensive block.
He could also make the team more resistant when caught on a counter. His positioning could be used for shutting down space, especially against players with good control on the ball.
Is he a better fit?
Cancelo was perfect for Juventus’ attacking ventures, especially when taking part in the actions in the final third. Danilo might not be that active when it comes to providing the ball to the front-line using crosses but could be extremely efficient for delivering it to the midfield. The Brazilian could offer another option for attacking set-pieces. Although Juventus has strong set-piece takers, using Danilo for them might give the freedom of more attacking players being positioned in the box.
He is performing a great number of lateral passes, which could fit perfect to Sarriball and the possession football Juve tends to play. Danilo’s concentration and awareness are making him a better defensive performer. That’s a thing that the Portuguese was often lacking, which has cost the team being exploit during games.
Danilo might use the half-spaces more frequently, which would allow rotating positions with the midfielders and trying to open spaces in the opposition’s half. Creating overloads in these areas would help the team to break defences and drag players out of position.
With that many defensive additions, Juventus need to not get carried away and put the needed effort to make it work. Danilo is just a part of the puzzle to improving their performance and reaching glory once again.
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