Victory possible as Juventus welcome Real Madrid

Posted by Mina Rzouki

It is Tuesday's Champions League match to watch – one that pits two of Europe’s greatest sides against one another. The last time Juventus played Real Madrid, the Old Lady was thought to be psychologically broken after blowing a two-goal lead in a 4-2 loss to Fiorentina. Yet three days later, with only 10 men against Madrid, it was argued Juve played the better game against their prestigious opponent in a 2-1 loss.

Now, the match will take place in Turin, in what Antonio Conte hopes will be a cauldron of Juve passion. The fans need to be on the Old Lady’s side, guiding her to a much-needed victory in Europe to help her along the way.

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Question marks surround the formation Juventus will opt for Tuesday. In the first match against the Spanish giants, Conte decided on a 4-3-3 formation. After the positive results the Bianconeri have collected in the league recently, the coach explained that he believed a 3-5-2 allowed for a greater number of goal-scoring opportunities, saying it was in fact an attacking formation. A 4-3-3 offers more balance and allows for greater defensive solidity.

Asked what formation Juventus are likely to play against Los Blancos and Conte couldn’t be moved. He said his side are capable of playing both systems and could even decide to change during the game. The most important thing, he explained, is the interpretation of the game and the intensity shown.

Under Carlo Ancelotti, Real Madrid have suffered in their domestic league. While wins have been achieved, the lack of a solid defence has caused them problems, with great pressure placed on the attacking line to outscore the opponent.

Against Sevilla, a match Madrid usually win, they went up 3-0 before they allowed the opponent the opportunity to get back into the game. A penalty conceded followed by a Carlos Bacca goal demonstrated the fragility within the back-line. Unai Emery’s men always looked capable of scoring but Real Madrid won due to the strength of their men going forward.

it was a similar story on Saturday against Rayo Vallecano. Up by 3-0, they conceded two penalties to make it a nervy affair in the capital city. Only eight clubs in La Liga have conceded more goals than the Madrid giants. Experts say the absence of Xabi Alonso, the midfielder who has returned, was detrimental to the side, and in many ways one can agree.

Alonso is capable of controlling the pace of the game and thus allows his side the opportunity to conduct proceedings with calm and control. Tactically, his positioning is excellent, while his leadership skills help organise the team. With Alonso in the side, it’s argued that Madrid play with greater collectivity and are not so vulnerable to swift attacks.

However, his absence was not the only problem. Essentially, few of Ancelotti’s forwards fulfill their defensive duties. Allowed to roam free and exploit space, when the team is robbed of possession, the back-line is exposed and forced to deal with the pressure alone. Few have taken the responsibility to track back and plug holes in the wide areas or through the middle to close down the channels. With full-backs who like to push forward, Los Blancos are regularly gifting space to their opponents.

The likes of Sami Khedira -- who proved tremendous under Jose Mourinho as he bullied, pressed and harried the opponent to win back possession -- appears more concerned with pushing forward than securing the men behind him. Against Sevilla, as soon as Madrid lost possession, Khedira was not in his usual position to provide the defensive help needed.

With so much pressure on the back line, individual errors are to be expected, and the side have been prone to conceding penalties. Against Sevilla, the ones conceded were slightly harsh -- especially as one was given because of a foul outside the box.

Another reasoning behind Madrid's vulnerabilities is perhaps due to the fact the starting line-up has changed so frequently with different players in the midfield in each game. We’ve seen Sergio Ramos played there against Barcelona, while Angel Di Maria was deployed behind Cristiano Ronaldo in their last match against Rayo Vallecano – playing a sort of 4-2-4 formation. This constant chopping and changing rids the side of fluid movements and the understanding between players.

A 3-5-2, especially when played with great intensity like we saw from Conte’s men against Genoa, may hurt the Spaniards. But it could leave the home side looking vulnerable -- especially considering the talent Madrid possess on the wings.

A 4-3-3 will offer greater balance and the side functioned well in the last match between the two clubs. Without Giorgio Chiellini due to the harsh red card he was given in Madrid, it’s likely Conte will deploy Kwadwo Asamoah as the left-back.

A victory is important, demanded and very possible considering Real Madrid are still finding their feet and capable of errors. Playing with great intensity, pace and intelligence in a stadium devoted to cheering them on, Juventus must fight for the result.


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