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Match analysis: Juventus - Real Madrid

Match analysis: Juventus – Real Madrid

By Michail Tsokaktsidis

Juventus defeated Real Madrid with 2-1 in the first leg of the Champions League semifinal. This result proved that Allegri’s side not only has been the best Italian team for the last five years but also has become one of the best clubs in Europe.



1st Half: Taking advantage of the numbers up in midfield

Juventus: Massimiano Allegri started with 4-3-1-2 which together with 3-5-2, are the formations used by Juve during this season. Pirlo was in the base of the rhombus shape in midfield, while Marchisio was on the right and Sturaro on the left (as Pogba was unavailable). Vidal was on top behind Morata and Tevez.

During the attacking phase the main tactical aims of the home side were two: a) the building up with quick vertical passes in order to take advantage of Morata and Tevez in the 2 v 2 situation against Varane and Pepe. In order for this aim to be obtained, Juventus midfielders used either passes behind the back of the defenders,



or passed the ball straight to the forwards and then moved quickly forward (mainly Vidal, Sturaro and Marchisio) to provide support and use combination play, b) when the immediate vertical pass wasn’t possible to be obtained they tried to control the tempo by passing around with patience, searching for the right moment to use one of the two attacking ways that were mentioned in the first aim.

During the positive transition the main aim for Juve was again to play immediately a vertical pass. This was done in the beginning of the match with the pass from Marchisio towards Vidal. 


In order to obtain this, the Italian team tried to take advantage of the numbers up situation in midfield, where there was a 3 + 1 v 2 situation (Pirlo, Marchisio, Sturaro and Vidal vs Kroos and Ramos), while the width was created by Lichtsteiner and Evra or by Sturaro and Marchisio from time to time.

Pirlo used to take up positions between Ronaldo and Bale in order to receive behind them. In case he was free of marking, he could easily make a vertical pass by exploiting the numbers up in midfield.


When Kroos or Ramos moved to put him under pressure, Pirlo’s next move depended on how Isco and James reacted. So for example in the case that Isco converged towards the inside to mark the right midfielder (in the picture below it’s Vidal) the right wing back (Lichtsteiner) was left free of marking. At the same time the other central midfielder of Real, (Ramos) was placed between two opponents. In case that Isco shifted towards the right wing back, the right midfielder was left free and could easily receive and turn. 


In case that either Isco or James moved to close Pirlo down and Ramos together with Kroos stayed near the right and 

left midfielder of Juve the extra man for the home side was the attacking midfielder Vidal. If either Kroos or Ramos stayed

near Vidal and the respective side midfielder (Isco or James), shifted towards the inside, the player who stayed free was

the wing back or the side midfielder (as it appears on the picture Tevez has moved into side midfielder’s position while

Marchisio and Lichtsteiner provided width).


Finally when Pirlo dropped back between the central defenders to create 3 v 2 and start the build up from the back, Vidal dropped also back to provide an extra passing option by creating a 3 v 2 or a 5 v 4 in midfield (Lichtsteiner, Evra, Sturaro, Marchisio and Vidal vs Ramos, Kroos, James and Isco).



This tactical approach enabled Juve to dominate during the first 15-20’, and create 3-4 scoring chances. Juventus could dominate even under heavy pressure from Real (especially after 1-0). Juventus players tried with confidence to build up from the back and break through the opposition’s pressing by using vertical passes. This kind of building up left many Real players (in some cases six) out of defensive positions.



Morata’s attempt to send the ball over Casillas after Bonucci’s long pass in 7th minute was characteristic.  

Another one characteristic movement during Juve’s attacking phase, was when Tevez dropped back between the lines to get free of marking and receive behind the midfielders. After receiving he tried to attack through the centre by obtaining a vertical pass.



During the defensive phase Juve defended mainly within the middle third. They retained the 4-3-1-2 formation and tried to maintain cohesion and numbers up in midfield when the ball was in the centre. 



The players retained the rhombus shape even when the ball was near the side lines. 


When Real moved the ball quickly from the one side to the other in order to exploit their advantage near the side line (as it is shown in the formations diagram), the side midfielders of Juve Marchisio and Sturaro shifted quickly to provide support to the wing backs Lichtsteiner Evra and avoid a 1 v 2 situation.In these cases, as Pirlo shifted also towards the strong side, Vidal dropped between Pirlo and the weak side’s side midfielder to fill the gap and retain cohesion in midfield. This made the formation look like 4-4-2.



From time to time Juve pressed high up the field. In these cases they were focused on putting pressure on specific players such as Pepe and Carvajal. This resulted Sturaro’s interception and Tevez’s shooting on goal in 18th minute. 

Juve during the defensive phase performed excellently as individuals as well as in groups. The players applied pressure, provided cover and had very good positioning


They also applied double marking and created numbers up.


However when they made their first mistake, Real managed to score the equalizer. Specifically Chiellini moved to put pressure on Carvajal near the side line, while at the same time Evra didn’t manage to provide cover on time. The ball was moved to James behind Chiellini and Bonucci shifted to put him under pressure. However this reaction left Ronaldo free of marking as Lichtsteiner stayed with Bale.


Real Madrid: Carlo Ancelotti started with 4-4-2. As Modric and Benzema were unavailable, Bale was upfront together with Ronaldo. However this didn’t enable Real to have the fluidity they used to have in previous matches (when the formation was changed to 4-3-3 during the attacking phase). In midfield, Ramos was next to Kroos, as against Atletico, while Isco and James were the side midfielders. The only difference, as it was mentioned, was Bale’s positioning near Ronaldo replacing Hernandez, while on the left Marcelo was brought in instead of Coentrao.

During the defensive phase Real started by applying pressing within the middle third. Bale and Ronaldo were placed 10-15m above the half way line, but as time went by they pressed higher.


Real applied pressing with little intensity and the players’ movements lacked synchronization.

This helped Juve dominate and scoreThe picture below shows that despite the fact that 8 Real players are behind the ball, there is poor positioning by Varane and Marcelo as well as lack of pressure on the ball carrier Marchisio.


As it was shown on the formation diagram, Real had numbers up near the side lines and they tried to take advantage of it after the 20th minute. From the beginning Real’s intention was to play passes behind the defenders in order to exploit the speed of the two forwards, but Juventus defenders reacted well.

The only danger for Juve came in 23rd minute after Isco’s pass towards Ronaldo, but the last one missed the chance. 


After the first 20 minutes Real moved the ball from side to side in order to unbalance Juventus and score. The first goal came after combination play near the side line but the most characteristic attacking play was when James’ header hit the post. 



2nd Half: Scoring during positive transition and switching to 5-3-2 helped Juve win

The same situations took place in the 2nd half until 57th minute, when Juve won a penalty kick after a successful positive transition in a 2 v 2 situation.

Scoring the second gave Juve players more confidence and extra boost especially during defensive phase.

Ancelotti brought in Hernandez replacing Isco, and switched to 4-3-3, with Bale on the right, Ronaldo on the left and Hernandez on top. Immediately after this, Real missed a scoring chance with Ronaldo. Allegri’s reaction was Barzagli’s coming in, in the place of Sturaro. The formation was changed to 5-3-2, with the aim of effective defending.


From this time and on Juve got stronger in the centre and despite the fact that Real had possession, they couldn’t create scoring chances.


Ronaldo and Bale were blocked as they had to deal with two players near the side line and there was always support from the inside by Juve midfielders.


Furthermore Juve was excellent during defending against crosses.


As regards the attacking phase the home side had the same aims mentioned before. The 5-3-2 helped them retain possession by moving the ball around (through taking advantage of Evra’s and Lichtsteiner positioning) and they missed a chance to score the third with Llorente in 87th minute during positive transition.

Conclusion: The match showed that Juventus was prepared better both tactically and mentally than Real. They exploited their advantages against Ancelotti’s team and after the first leg they increased their chances in reaching the Champions League final. 



Last Updated on Saturday, 09 May 2015 15:01

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