A new formation for a European Juve?

Posted by Mina Rzouki

Europa LeagueAssociatedFernando Llorente couls spearhead Juventus' new-look shape

As the world sat back to admire Germany's two giants of football compete for the Champions League trophy, Antonio Conte was hypnotised by the tactical duel on the pitch. With both sides opting to play their usual 4-2-3-1 formation, the Juventus coach was particularly impressed by either sides offensive ability. The fluid movements and goal-scoring opportunities made for an exciting game, but it was the balance, in addition to the quick transitions, that most impressed the Italian.

In the last four finals of the Champions League, only one team has won the trophy without playing the 4-2-3-1 shape - Barcelona. Chelsea, Bayern and the last Italian team to lift the trophy with the big ears, Inter, all achieved European success by deploying a 4-2-3-1 shape - a formation that has captured Conte's interests.

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Italy's flexible tactician, Conte, was once known to be a 4-2-4 man with a renowned fascination for wing play. Having witnessed the potential within central midfield when he arrived at Juventus, his 4-2-4 shape fell by the wayside as he explored ways in which to exploit the talent he had in the middle.

If there is anything Conte loves more than flexible tactics, it is flexible players. Simone Pepe offered the tactician a way to indulge his ideas. The player's versatility allowed for the team to switch shapes and tactics with ease, something Conte missed deeply this season considering the Bianconero's absence.

Juventus succeeded by deploying a 4-3-3 shape, but came alive when they switched to the now infamous 'Italian' formation - 3-5-2. The Bianconeri were blessed with three effective centre-backs and a midfield that perfectly combined combative play with creative technique. Playing the 3-5-2 shape not only offered the Old Lady defensive solidity but the opportunity to create goal-scoring opportunities.

The 3-5-2 shape eventually changed to a 3-5-1-1 towards the end of this season when Conte grew reliant on Paul Pogba's skills. Considering him 'unbenchable', what better way to exploit the strengths of his side than by playing a midfield-heavy formation. Whilst Juventus boasted possession and control of the games, the 3-5-1-1 formation somewhat robbed the side of their vertical edge and the element of surprise in attack, it seemed the team were constantly playing in slow motion as they rotated the ball.

Whilst the three man back-line is a la mode in Italy, Conte wants to alter tactics to find a shape that would yield both domestic and European success. As such, he has asked the Juve directors for help in bringing in the type of players that would permit the Mister to explore different shapes and new tactics.

The three men of Juve all offer a different outlook when searching for players. Whilst skill and technique are always what mesmerise Conte, it's the player's attitude that Fabio Paratici considers to be of the utmost importance whilst Beppe Marotta searches for logic. Is the player of the right age? Does he adapt tactically? Is he considered value for money? All three must agree on a player before Juventus moves forward.

When Marotta came across Arturo Vidal, he considered him to be a wonderful transfer market opportunity. His contract was ending, he was of the right age and he possessed so much potential. However, it was the Chilean's love for horse-riding that eventually won Paratici over. With so much energy to expend, Vidal would horse-ride into the early hours of the morning to tire his body so he could sleep. Not even a full day of training was enough to exhaust the player.

This, Paratici concluded, made him a perfect midfielder. Juventus needed a runner - a man capable of covering kilometres on the pitch, who would fortify the defence and contribute to the attack whilst never tiring. Vidal thus became the perfect addition to the squad.

Conte is now determined to bring in attacking creativity as well as a winger to offer the side options. Whilst Stevan Jovetic and Alessandro Diamanti possess ingenuity as well as the ability to finish, Arjen Robben would offer alternatives as well as experience. Not all may agree on the latter but Jovetic is a man who has intrigued the management.

Italian media speculate that Andrea Pirlo may well be sacrificed on occasion as changes are implemented. The 4-2-3-1 formation Conte allegedly dreams of would be led by either Fernando Llorente or Gonzalo Higuain up top with Claudio Marchisio behind. Il Principino would be flanked by two of Jovetic, Diamanti or Robben. In the holding midfield role, the coach would rely on the combined combative and technical skills of Pogba and Vidal whilst the team would return to a four-man defence, with Stephan Lichtsteiner as right-back.

Turin based newspaper Tuttosport asked its readers if they agree with the 4-2-3-1 shape. An overwhelming majority of 81% said yes.

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