It is no longer news that on the 6th of June; Juventus, potentially the most unfancied of most of Europe’s elite clubs will take on Barcelona; incredibly or should I say ironically both are vying for a treble. Interestingly, we have had this happen twice in recent history; 1999 and 2010; when Manchester United, Bayern and Inter Milan were in the same position with Bayern Munich the only constant in both years. This Barcelona side are looking to match the unprecedented achievements of the 2009 Barcelona side under Pep Guaradiola that won a treble. Juventus have defied all odds to make it to this year’s final after having ensure a total domination of the domestic Italian game, possessing a manager that has come under immense criticism especially at the point of his appoint from many including me; but if omens were anything worth considering Juventus have the edge going into this game.
Gigi Buffon returns to the scene of his career’s biggest triumph; Berlin where Italy were crowned World Champions in 2006.If were to consider omens even further Max Allegri has the comfort of been one of the coaches that has had the rare privilege of defeating Barcelona in time past and finally as we look at the pivotal tactical considerations; Barcelona defeated an Italian team to win their first Champions League/European Cup with Johan Cryuff’s dream team of 1992. Here are my tactical pivotal points:
Will Giorgio Chiellini be missed?
Without a shadow of a doubt Giorgio Chiellini is Juventus best player and there is no point beating around the bush he will be a big miss, he’s strength, marking and power play has always been an integral part of Juventus set up this season; obviously complimented by the poise, elegance and control of Leonardo Bonucci, one of the few remaining ball playing defenders in world football.
Andre Barzagli is the obvious choice to replace the Italian international, but you have got to say that both are a couple of miles apart as Barzagli’s apparent lack of full match practice would be put to the test by Barcelona’s triple threat attack.
Lets call a spade a spade; Juventus would miss Chiellini and would have to call on a super human performance to see the game through.
No Point Playing Three @ the Back
Juventus under Max Allegri have found a versatility that many thought didn’t exist with this team, he has adjusted the team’s play and made them adaptable to whatever opponent they are faced with. He has dropped off, for most of the campaign the three defenders system that was the main stay of the Conte era and instilled a 4-3-1-2 formation that embodies all that Allegri expects from his team.
Juventus give very little away, remaining at the edge and at the threshold of always taking advantage of their opponent’s weaknesses. With the days leading to the game Allegri might or may have been caught up in the disillusion of reverting to the old prototype; the temptation to switch tho three at the back, just as a number of pundits expected approaching the second leg against Real Madrid. All those thoughts would have been especially banished with the injury to Chiellini, as he may have been tempted to bring on Barzagli to join his defence.
A three man defense isolates Juventus more like one v one against Barcelona’s attackers in their 4-3-3 formation; however approaching the game with a flat back four allows the Bianconneri have a spare man in defense, allowing them to sweep, re-position and regroup.
Will Pirlo have special treatment?
Barcelona always enjoy the lion share of possession in virtually all games and it would be no different in this game, but with that comes Juventus’s desire to implement their own game plan; that game plan would revolve around Andrea Pirlo. Would Barcelona single out Pirlo for special treatment? Would Barcelona cater or set up for a Pirlo reprisal?
I do not think Barcelona would be compelled to cater for individuals like Juventus may have to against some of the Catalans bigger stars; Luis Enrique has to set up his side to be able to respond to a tactical counter or counter attacking approach from Juventus; set up to counter the collective because that is what the Turin side have above many.
Exploiting the wide areas
If there is one thing both teams have in common it is their full backs; both have marauding full backs; always willing to push forward to be part of the attack; but then Juventus potentially have the more disciplined lot in Lichtseiner and ; this poses a major outlet for the Italians as they would look to exploit the spaces left behind by Dani Alves and Jordi Alba when then move up to midfield and join the attack.
Breaks in those areas would serve Juventus very well if utilized especially as they try to break forward and attack the Catalans using Pirlo and Bonucci’s diagonal passing capabilities; however, this also poses an area of penetration for Barcelona as well as interesting to see Messi v Evra and Neymar v Lichtseiner isolated in one v one situations; these may be pivotal in what direction the game swings.
Stopping the MessiSauarezNeymar trident
If there is a way, well I can assure you I do not know it; but one thing is for sure it requires a performance of an unbelievable stature.How do you stop a 121 goals partnership that has really flourished? The three are in absolute tandem with each other, flowing and floating around the attacking third willing to work for each other.
Barcelona have failed to score only three times this season; Celta Vigo, Malaga and Real Sociedad have the rare privilege of keeping clean sheets against the Catalans; so those tapes will come in handy for Max Allegri.Juventus would have to be discipline, compact and resolute; there two banks of four have to locked tight, not giving up any spaces, not allowing any spaces between the lines. Allegri, then in charge of Milan record a famous victory against the Catalans, so he has been here before and he possesses players for the big occasion.
My Verdict: In six meetings against Italian sides; Barcelona have only won two. The Catalans are obviously favorites, but stranger things have happened; just watch Milan v Barcelona 1994 Champions League Final. I would take the betting route to predict that both teams will score over 2.5