What are the three main issues that could cost Allegri his job with Juventus? – scout report
A few of the big European teams have been struggling since the start of the season, bringing surprising results in the leagues and on the European scene as well. While teams like Chelsea, Liverpool and Milan have had an inconsistent campaign so far, Massimiliano Allegri’s Juventus seem to be in the worst position in both Serie A and Europe.
The manager’s second time in charge of the Bianconeri is not going as expected as the team are currently sitting eighth in the league and just got knocked out of the UEFA Champions League earning only three points in five games. Although their data doesn’t show any significant issues in their performance, the outcome of their games is utterly unsatisfying. The team often struggle in front of the goal but also often fail in keeping their advantage, which is the main talking point when it comes to Allegri’s tactics.
Despite the few summer transfer moves, Juventus still have difficulties in some positions and have failed to create a strong connection between the lines, which makes it difficult for them to be efficient in possession. Things in defence look slightly more convincing in terms of goals conceded in Serie A, however, there are still some issues that cost them many points each week.
The connection between the lines
Despite the considerably high pass frequency that Juventus try to employ and being third in the league in terms of pass completion rate (86.4%), the team fail to increase their possession percentile and rarely have more of the ball compared to their opponents.
While their passes are predominantly accurate it turns out that those passes don’t lead to an increased number of opportunities in front of the goal. The reason for this cannot be explained through their data and needs to be examined in detail.
Looking closely at their style of play and their build-up strategy, it is noticeable that the team are often lacking a connection between the lines. And that doesn’t come as an absence of progressive passing and movement but more so a lack of successful partnerships and connections between the players. The difference in their playing style and the incomparability of their strengths and weaknesses often result in inefficient movement and wasted opportunities.
Certain players often get isolated and that’s noticeable mostly in their offensive movement where they frequently overcommit to particular actions and areas, which makes it more difficult to connect. While they are the team with the fewest ball losses per 90 minutes (78.32 avg.), looking at the areas where they lose possession, we can outline that they struggle to retain possession on the edge of the final third. That’s because they have difficulties in getting the ball out of midfield and providing quality balls to quality areas for the attackers.
Part of these struggles are a result of players’ technical abilities. While the team have strong individuals, they haven’t been efficient enough as a collective because their strengths don’t complement each other. The lack of distinguished creative players in midfield or the similarity in the attackers’ style of play are all signs that Allegri’s side won’t be able to play to their potential.
While Ángel Di María is one of the most skilful players in the squad and brought a lot of explosiveness to the Bianconeri, they still lack players who will gain an advantage in 1vs1 situations and dribble past their opponents to be able to advance the ball.
That lack of creativity and technical abilities affect Juventus’ whole performance in possession.
The lack of creativity and versatility
After explaining that the lack of connection between the lines is one of their main issues, we cannot skip on mentioning what it leads to. Despite the few attacking additions in the summer transfer window, Juve haven’t been as threatening in the advanced areas as expected.
The reason for that is not the absence of a distinguished finisher as one might have thought, but the lack of creativity and versatility in their movement. With the players failing to create spaces and exploit quality areas, the attackers are often forced to drop back and seek the ball, which leaves the box unoccupied. Once the attacking shape is already broken and the players are out of position, the team’s lack of creativity with the ball results in an unbalanced attacking movement.
Juventus are often predictable in the final third and their overcommitment to certain areas gets them stuck in repeating actions, leaving time and space for the opposition to react. Since Filip Kostić’s arrival, the team have started to heavily rely on his movement on the left, with most of their attacks being channelled through the left flank.
While he fulfils his role successfully, the team’s overcommitment to these areas has affected their overall efficiency as the right-sided players are not as involved in the attacking movement and these areas often remain unoccupied. The lack of interchanges and creative movement results in the team having a much lower number of touches in the penalty areas than their opponents, respectively fewer opportunities from open play.
The team have partly found a way to compensate by threatening the goal through their attacking set-piece opportunities, which is how most of their goals have been produced, but this is clearly not enough for them to be successful.
Fighting when the fight is over
The Bianconeri have often lacked intensity off the ball in their games which has led to them giving away initiative and conceding first on multiple occasions. Their training behaviour is mirrored on the pitch as the team cover a lot of distance and have a high pass frequency but with a low intensity, which often makes them passive and results in a lack of explosiveness and creativity up front.
This also affects the team defensively, as they lose momentum and give their opponents the chance to take over and start creating opportunities. This has cost them important points in many of the games. The reason for that is that the team start to increase the intensity of their press and look to have more of the ball too late, many times only after they concede and need to catch up.
While oftentimes this increase in intensity results in them firing back, the reliability of this method makes them vulnerable. The team need to be consistent in their approach and maintain an average intensity rate both in and out of possession if they don’t want to give away big opportunities to their opponents. Maintaining a “healthy” PPDA rate throughout their games will help them in increasing their possession percentile and might initiate more frequent attacking movement.
Instead of trying to play on their potential and gaining an advantage early on, Allegri’s tactics are often the opposite. He relies on exhausting the opposition, giving away the initiative and letting them think they control the game, then making changes to counteract that. Although it has its benefits, this strategy is too risky, especially when the team have additional issues as already mentioned.
After Juventus’ 4-3 defeat to Benfica and being knocked out of the CL, the Italian explained what his approach for the game was, which only underlines how risky and inefficient these tactics can be.
Confirming he was expecting Benfica to be very proactive and press intensely and explaining his decision to leave Arkadiusz Milik on the bench, the Italian said: “Benfica pressed hard at the start, were dangerous on the counter and I hoped Miretti-Milik would improve the quality level in the second half, but by that point, we were already 4-1 down.”
As our analysis shows, Juventus look disconnected and the lack of a consistent approach and a distinguished style of play makes it even more difficult to perform well. The controversial tactics add to the confusion and deepen their problems, making it look like Allegri’s time in charge is limited.