Juve Juventus FC beat Hellas Verona as Aaron Ramsey and Cristiano Ronaldo scored for the Old Lady.

Setup:

 
– Formation unchanged from the midweek clash against Atletico: 433 with the ball and 442 without it. 
 

– Juventus played what is now a familiar narrow high line, with Demiral coming in for De Ligt and swapping places as RCB with Bonucci.

– Midfield of Ramsey, Matuidi and Bentancur who are slightly more rigid and defensive in the middle. 
 

First Half: 

 

– Juventus seemed to settle well into playing fluidly with Dybala up top constantly throwing the Verona defense into chaos. 

– Juventus were heavily distracted in defense around the 18th minute mark where they were caught napping on multiple occasions, leading to a penalty for Verona. Demiral brought down Di Carmine with a clumsy challenge that began from Verona forwards beating the defense with pace and through balls. Despite missing the penalty, Verona crowded the Juve box and eventually took the lead with a Veloso blinder. Nothing Gigi Buffon could do.
 
– Dybala functioned as the fulcrum in the attacking half in the absence of Panic. Playing a deeper role as a false 9, he wriggled away from multiple players, drew fouls and initiated attacking moves. 
 
– After the goal, Verona continued the high press but that led to lots of gaps in the midfield. This led to Ronaldo and Ramsey being given a lot of space, leading to Ramsey’s fortunate shot and equalizer. 
 
– As Ramsey and Dybala got more into the game after 30 minutes, there was more attacking drive with Verona’s midfield and defense stretched too much. 
 

Second Half:

– The game resumed with both teams maintaining shape, but with Verona showing more initiative with their passing. 
 
– However, Verona’s aggression cost them a stonewall penalty, when Günter was beaten by Cuadrado’s pace. Ronaldo converted, helping Juve take a deserving lead. 
 
– Around the 50th minute, Pjanic came on for Bentancur, presumably in a bit to play through the midfield more and tire out Verona’s pressing. And this worked well for a while with tons of exchanges between the attacking four. Once Ramsey and Dybala came off though (for Sami and Higuain), the passing stopped and Juve were much more ragged in their ball progression, allowing Verona to play through their midfield in a more structured manner. 
 

– The off the ball movement and quick passing in attack between Dybala, Ramsey, Ronaldo and Cuadrado unlocked Verona’s defense multiple times, which should be a very encouraging sign for Sarri. Certainly better than when Higuain played the past few games. 

– Set pieces have continued to be the Achilles’ heel for Juve, but in this instance it was largely due to Verona’s world-class delivery into the box. Buffon, Bonucci, and Sandro stumbled during the set pieces, with the only player being able to handle the zonal system being Demiral.
 
– The game got disjointed and scrappy around the 70th minute as both teams were conserving energy (or were just knackered from the pressing). Higuain’s presence also narrowed Juve’s attack considerably and allowed Verona to collect the loose balls and play through their midfield. 
 

– Towards the end of the game, Juventus were making silly challenges outside their box and could’ve well conceded a goal or two if luck wasn’t on their side. Juventus was pinned back in a similar way to their previous outing in Madrid, and Buffon was called on to make some crucial saves. 

– Juventus also made some penetrating runs inside the Verona box, but were lacking glucose levels to shoot effectively. 

Stats that mattered:

 
Attempts on goal: Juve had 18 attempts from open play, which is almost thrice as high as last season. In contrast, Verona had 7, but with all their shots on target. Shows you how dangerous they were when they broke through. 
 
Possession: Around 57% for Juve, a slightly better stat than when playing away at Atletico, but worse when you consider who and where they were playing (Hellas at home!). This stat is likely to go up a the midfield and defense pass out of their half better. 
 
Passing style: Juventus relied on a mammoth 460 short passes with an overall pass accuracy of 84%. Pretty much the average Sarri game if you ask me. But they were threatened by most of the direct, long-passing that Verona employed, which meant that they didn’t handle covering Verona’s spread out movement well. It is possible that this is a known blind spot for Sarri’s system which teams like Atalanta, Lazio and Roma will likely exploit further into the season.
 

Overall:

 
A very challenging game for Juventus, not because of their own misgivings, but largely due to Verona’s excellent deliveries inside the box, be it via through balls or crosses. Granted, Juventus had three players starting their first games of the season (Dybala, and debutants Demiral and Ramsey). That said, the game was won on the back of excellent attacking plays from the front three as well as solid positioning and defending from the full-backs. Without Danilo and Sandro’s tracking back, Juve risked being exposed multiple times with a marauding front four from Verona. Their performance also meant that Verona were forced to shoot through the middle, which was reasonably well covered. 
 
There are quite a few patterns of play emerging. Mainly on a systemic level rather than individual movements that Allegri’s system thrived upon. An example is the midfield runner going into the box with freedom, usually either the mezz’alas (Ramsey/Matuidi in this case), the wing overloads with one full-back pushed forward while the regista (Pjanic and the defensive flank’s fullback). With the right players, the ball is going to stick to the team’s feet, so there is a lot of positive potential to this style of play. Having said that, there are also some negative patterns. Namely, the drop in drive around 60 minutes, the zonal marking being lackluster and the team getting distracted quite often in defense later in the game. Arguably, these will be solved with better understanding in the defense, but this is where it might make sense to allow two squads to continually play with each other. i.e, no less rotation! All in all, 3 points for Juve and a happy disposition to begin watching the Milan derby!

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