The defensive line was not as high as against Parma. From the heat map, we see that it was balanced on both sides. There were 264 touches (the most between the three position types: attack, midfield and defense) between the defenders. On the left, we see that this time Alex Sandro was going forward unlike the Parma game. Bonucci, on the right, stayed closer to Szczesny.
Juventus made 18 clearances, half were from de Ligt (the highest number) and Danilo. De Ligt cleared the ball 4 times inside the penalty box and once on the left side. Danilo is the one who cleared the ball on the right as shown in the figure below. Bonucci and Sandro both cleared the ball inside the penalty box. We can then see how Sandro contributed a lot defensively on the left side and covered for de Ligt when the latter was closer to Bonucci. The same could be said for Danilo with Bonucci.
We then ask ourselves these questions:
Let’s have a quick look at the number of touches shown below. He did not have the most touches (Sandro has the most with 82) but he was positioning himself close to the touchline providing crucial one-two passes with Douglas Costa. He was also linking well with Pjanic in the middle. We saw two shots from him, one of them from outside the box and it would have been a beauty if it went in.
As a side note, Can, today (September 3rd, 2019), has been excluded from the UEFA Champions League list. This provides an insight on Sarri’s views on him. It seems he does not fit his style of play and preferred to keep other midfielders.
Rabiot should be introduced soon but we saw when we introduce a player (I’m referring to de Ligt) before being a 100% ready, it could have negative impacts on the final result. In my opinion, Sarri will introduce him once he starts guiding the team from the bench. But then, Matuidi you ask?
Yes, Matuidi has improved a lot from the last game in which he was absent. Against Napoli, he was aggressive with 4 fouls (the most), he participated in many plays (55 touches vs 28 for Khedira) and had one shot. He was linking more with Sandro on the left and provided a key pass to Higuain. Essentially, he plays the role of Douglas Costa on the left side and that gives freedom to Ronaldo who can find spaces between defenders.
First, let’s talk about the phenomenon called Cristiano Ronaldo. He was not involved in the first goal but ran an impressive 92 meters in 10 seconds. Ok wait, what? A 34 years old ran at a speed of 33.12km/h? Are you kidding me? He also had the most shots (3), scoring one of them and the most dribbles.
Higuain is very crucial to the Sarriball because of his positioning but also because he retracts to the middle of the pitch and allows other players to use him as a focal point. He tackled (2) the most compared with other forwards. He only had one shot though, and he scored it. He was subbed with Dybala 15 minutes from the final whistle. Dybala was not able to do much except for a few touches. He did shoot once, though.
Let’s ask this question: Why would our number 21 (formerly number 9 which is unassigned this season) be preferred to our number 10 (formerly number 21)? Against physical defenders like Manolas and Koulibali, Higuain is stronger physically and clinical inside the box. The one who benefits from that is Cristiano Ronaldo who can infiltrate on the right or on the left and shoot. Let’s see how would Sarri fit Cristiano and Dybala who, in my opinion, share the same position. Both enjoy the freedom of running right and left and trying to find spaces between the defenders.
What can one say about Douglas Costa that hasn’t been said already? When fit, he is amazing and can dribble past one, two, three or more with speed and unpredictable moves. He provided two assists and had the most touches upfront and covered the full right flank. He also had two shots, but not on target. This is something he’ll need to improve.
My Final Take
In the first half, like the Parma game, Juventus was playing fluid and entertaining football. This is closer to what is called the Sarriball. The major drawback at this stage is that players get exhausted by the hour mark and start to fall back which leads to having the other team control the ball. There is still a lot of work to be done to maintain this high intensity style.
To conclude, I would like to thank that great team for providing us three precious points at a point where we still do not have a coach, the team just started the season and the new players need more time to integrate. There shouldn’t be any finger pointing for the three goals we conceded. The team is still working hard to get to what Sarri has in mind, but this would require patience from the fanbase.
What is your take on Saturday’s game? Did you enjoy it? Do you see any difference between this Juve and last year’s?