No, it was not a miracle. There is nothing heroic, no trace of an alleged impossibility in the victory of Juventus against Real Madrid. The fear against the European champions, that team full of chmapions, is more on the television than result of perception of reality. Last year, the team then coached by Conte played two games on par with Ronaldo and company, a double challenge – although the road to Europe was then a little bit more memorable for the Spaniards – which probably remained in the memory, and unconscious of the players. This, however, is a semi-final of the Champions League. The context is completely different, the tension is not comparable: both have something to lose. Juventus is chasing her dream, Real with the obligation to center the final with the ambition to raise the Cup in the sky of Berlin.
The Italian champions – who have celebrated a little the fourth consecutive Scudetto to get ready for this challenge – than in the recent past seemed more mature, more ready to play games at the highest European level without any anguish, anxiety and nervousness. A bit that tranquility – that in Real is likely to become overconfidence – typical in the formations of Ancelotti, a coach who likes to control the pace of the game thanks to the management of the ball. The performance of the hypothetical challenge seemed then to follow a hypothetical canvas: the Spanish free to set the play from the back, recovering the ball in midfield by Juventus for immediate transitions.
The reality followed rather different moments: 1) great start for Juventus; 2) Real awakens: 3) balance; 4) the defense of the spaces and Buffon.
The super zoom camera that was able to capture the detail of the package with the game plan of Allegri has prepared us in the best way for the game. Allegri was not joking: attack the left wing of the Real, energy management, sketches of 4132. The Juventus coach surprised with the choice of deploying Sturaro from the first minute, a move also dictated by the desire to keep the jolly Pereyra, player capable of changing pace during the game, that you can use. Ancelotti reproposes again Ramos in the middle, Marcelo on the left, in front of the BC: is a spurious 442 ready to become a 433 thanks to the movements of James Rodriguez. The Juventus departure is remarkable for its intensity, pace and tactical clarity.
After a few seconds the Juventus pressure forced Casillas to a clumsy pass with Vidal served by Marchisio stopped at the doorstep. The preparation of the game by Allegri is clearly defined by identifying precisely the limits in the defensive organization of Real : Juventus has at least always a free man on the median, a numerical and positional advantage to exploit asking players to slip behind the line midfielders and space between inside and outside. The trigger mechanism of the Juventus maneuver is the usual. Pirlo regista and ready to fall between the central defenders, the full-backs are raised, the midfielders offer lines of passage, Vidal moves not only as an attacking midfielder but also as a central midfielder with Tevez moving down often on the strong side behind the opponent midfielder.
Ball possession pending the creation of the spaces and verticalization for Tevez between lines. Here’s the game plan of Allegri.
Real tries to exert pressure aggressively to recover as quickly and as high as possible the ball. Ancelotti also, like all the technicians who have dealt with the Bianconeri, identifies in Lichtsteiner and Chiellini the two less good technically, but compared to the choices of other coaches (Klopp and Jardim) decides to give them more space trusting in their little dangerousness. So the pressure is brought on other players: Bale shields the lines of passing by defenders to Pirlo, Ronaldo attacks Bonucci, James prevents the play on the axis Chiellini –Evra, while in midfield Isco tightens towards the center, Kroos is the central pivot, Ramos is on the center-right.
The initial strategy of Real Madrid. It works very little and badly, so much so that after 20 minutes Ancelotti uses a more covered 442
Ancelotti so grants to Juventus potentially a lethal weapon: taking advantage of the numerical and positional advantage comes first a conclusion of Sturaro and then the goal of Morata. The beauty of Juventus action impresses for tranquility, patiently search of the free companion serving always and only the man you see: the calm management of the ball leads to a web of 27 passes – all touch the ball except Buffon and Sturaro – in minute that elapses from the recovery of the ball of Morata to the tap in of the same attacker former Real. Execution of the game plan, ability to make the right decision in the field are the keys that lead to the goal: to attack on the right proves smart choice, because Marcelo showed his defensive limits.
Sergio Ramos indicates Tevez free. Marcelo is too open on Lichtsteiner, while the biggest danger comes from the center. From reviewing the shielding of Kroos who delivers a comfortable pass line to Marchisio.
The other indication, that to attack promptly Ramos and Carvajal – identified as the two players less technical and more in difficulty to handle any pressure – leads to slowing of the action if not in an immediate key recovery to move from one phase to other. The first twenty minutes of Juventus are pretty good. Real, after the early opening goal of Morata, it has been slow to find adequate tactics measures , allowing the team of Allegri the peaceful management of defensive possession waiting for a vertical integration and the resulting acceleration to seize at speed Real defense, appeared insecure and often in trouble when had to manage situations in the open field. In these minutes, the home side could have done better and become more dangerous.
The progress of the match advises the Emilian coach a change in the game strategy : Ancelotti compacts so his formation with a canon and safer 442 that allows a more compactness between departments. The offensive weapons consist mainly for the European champions in deep cuts of Ronaldo and Bale, in the offensive transition and exploitation of numerical and positional advantage in amplitude. Juventus defends with a compact 442, Real with Isco and especially James deploys false wings, able to squeeze into the field to leave vent to advancements of the full-backs.
James is getting into the center, Isco has completely abandoned the left lane. Sturaro is attracked excessively by the ball in and goes out on Ramos, leaving room for the Colombian to receive between lines.
So, when bianconeri were passive and more concerned to soil passing lanes, the patient handling of Real Madrid has allowed the exploitation of the main strengths pushing further and further behind their opponents. So comes the goal of Cristiano Ronaldo, guiltily left alone in a small area (Lichtsteiner does not perform a school diagonal) with the Blancos free to dribble: the deep cut of Isco, real offensive director, and the centralization of James have deconstructed the bianconere lines and forced juventini to make certain choices by removing, probably, that their aggression needed to recover quickly and aggressively the position.
Juventus is facing in making choices. The players make mistakes. Chiellini is attractted by the ball, Evra does not grant coverage, Vidal is late to absorb movement. Ronaldo moves behind Bonucci, Lichtsteiner is late to leave Bale and to close the Portuguese.
The temporary equalizer opens a different game. Juventus manages emotionally the blow suffered finding trust and confidence thanks to the management of the ball, but Real is now definitely entered in the game and keeps trying to break through on the wings doing harm when managed to quickly change the front of the attack, as in at the post of Rodriguez (very responsive on the occasion Sturaro).
Real moves the ball quickly, changes the side where finds the numerical superiority and can send a cross in from the bottom.
No changes after the interval: neither in men nor strategy. Juventus is back to increase the aggressiveness and the pressure brought by the attack tandem on central defenders, forcing Real to begin the maneuver with men with less quality present in the field. And it is the best solution because it prevents the Ancelotti’s team can keep possession advancing compact in Juventus midfield for looking for steady and quiet superiority on the lanes. Even the guests keep being aggressive and more protected with the 442, but Juventus can break the stranglehold showing substantial improvements compared to the first continental appearances. The action that leads to the penalty of Tevez is certainly episodic – everything comes from a rejected shot by Marcelo – but Real Madrid is too unbalanced. On the corner attack with six men inside the penalty area, Kroos and Isco for the short play plus the Brazilian full-back ready to seize any rebounds, leaving behind only Carvajal.
Carvajal looks like a man condemned to a sad fate.
When the ball carom at the feet of Tevez, the Argentine is free to focus on the field the unfortunate defender: the ending is practically written,also because of the slowness of Real to recover the situation. The goal from the penalty of the Argentine convinces Ancelotti in bring off the bench the man of Providence in the derby with Atletico: Hernandez enters, out Isco, the 433 it is in fact. The first action with his trident leads the more clear occasion of Real in the second half: the Mexican attacks very well the depth, Ronaldo called out of position Bonucci and create a dangerous hole on the left forcing Evra to tighten to much. Immediate reaction of Allegri: out a great Sturaro for Barzagli and Juventus goes to 532.
Allegri asks the two wingers aggressive outputs on Juventus fullbacks, but of course the center of gravity tends to decrease and the protection of the goal of Buffon becomes a major concern. Real is unable to create spaces, accumulates cross after cross (often from the frontline) facilitating the task of defensive trio. The move by Allegri, so typically Italian, numbs the game: no danger created by the Merengues, while the Bianconeri to touch the 3 to 1 with Llorente, first on the counter-attack then on set-piece.
None of the two teams has been able to control the course of the race, but only one, Juventus, managed to find more space on time. Allegri’s team played a good game, not perfect, showing continuous and constant improvements in handling the ball. It is confirmed intelligent, mature and increasingly convinced of their potential, much to accept the one-on-one defense lined up against Ronaldo and Bale, but always very careful to be in numerical superiority in defensive transitions with immediate folds and movements to shorten the field to exert immediate pressure on the player being into possession.
Juventus in Madrid will have to show similar intelligence, tactical ability and emotional management of the negative moments: after Ronaldo goal could suffer the opposing initiative (against BVB had happened), but recovered tranquility by the peaceful management of the ball. Even at the Bernabeu the match for Juve will be decided in the midfield department in which proved to be more dynamic and stronger overall. The absence of Modric takes Ancelotti the game balancer always present in his formations, a heavy lack that it can not be compensated by Sergio Ramos, clearly struggling under construction and to uncomfortable to swim in deeper water.
The return of Pogba will allow Allegri to raise the technical rate, while Real will probably find again Benzema, a atypical striker, ideal partner for Ronaldo, the right shoulder for the creation of spaces with movement without the ball. The bianconero coach will have to worry about better cover the breadth of the field. Possible adoption of a thicker midfield with Morata and Marchisio, much more logically Pereyra, on the outside, without sacrificing the high pressing exploiting the innate ability of Vidal to raise the pressure.
For Ancelotti much depends on the individuals and the quality of the dribble: longer is able to reason in attacking midfield, the better the chances of getting the result. Thinking that we are only a goal from Final seems risky: the score says this, but against Juventus will serve a better individual and collective performance, because in these games often wins the bravest and the strongest.
adapted an article by Davide Terruzzi @juventibus.com