Juventus Compact Defense

By Stevie Grieve

Massimiliano Allegri was appointed Juventus coach in the summer after the departure of Antonio Conte to the Italian National Squad, and has tried to adapt the Conte 5-3-2 formation and solid defensive system, to a more expansive 4-4-2 diamond formation, using the energy or Pogba and Marchisio in central midfield while giving Tevez and new summer recruit Alvaro Morata more freedom of movement by playing a front 2 with an attacking central midfielder giving a central presence behind them.

This has led to success in the Champions League this season, and currently leaves them in an almost untouchable position at the top of Serie A. A large part of this is the coach and team’s ability to alter the 4-4-2 diamond and change to a 5-3-2. In the game v Borussia Dortmund, Andrea Pirlo was unavailable and inside the 1st 20 minutes, Juventus lost exciting midfielder Paul Pogba to injury.

The coach reacted to this by changing to a counter attacking 5-3-2 by replacing Pogba with Barzaghli and changing the diamond to a flat 3, giving the team a wider defensive shape and a formidable barrier for Dortmund to break through.

Juventus 4-1-2-1-2 in defence; Good connections all over the field


As Juventus retreat into their own half, we can see the clear 4-4-2 diamond, with all players connected – wide midfielder and full back, defensive midfielder and centre backs, with the attacking midfielder tracking the deep midfielder of the opposition to stop him gaining an influence in the match.

Blocking Cutbacks while covering the goal


As Dortmund progress down the outside, Juventus block off the cutback option and force Schmelzer down the outside to cross where Juventus are comfortable with the compact 3v1 in the centre with 12m between the 2 CBs and far side FB.

Changing to 5-3-2



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After Pogba came off, Barzaghli’s introduction signalled the change to 5-3-2. With this, Juventus changed to a more narrow and compact shape than in the 4-4-2 diamond.

We can see from the images that with 20m Vertical Distance and 15m horizontal distance between the players, that there is very little space for Dortmund to play through. In the spaces which are available; between the CM and RCM/LCM, Dortmund have nobody occupying these spaces, making it easier for the Juventus midfield to stay connected to the defence and in line with the FBs.

I feel that if an attacker dropped off into those spaces that the CB would follow into the gap with a back 4 still in place behind them.

Tracking runners across the line


As Hummels receives a pass back, Juventus stay deep ad don’t race out to press, instead keeping the block tight and connected. Here, he should switch play diagonally to open up and move the block.

Juventus have 3CBs and with 1 spare, he is scanning for runners, and will track any coming into his zone, particularly diagonal runs where he will need to react quickly if the ball is delivered long.


As Hummels makes the long pass, Bonucci reacts quickly and gets across the runner, blocking his chance to bring the ball down and lets it go out of play.

Juventu’s defensive structure allowed them to regain the ball from Dortmund when they had committed many bodies forward, allowing the speed of Vidal, Pereyra, Tevez and Morata to counter attack with a solid structure behind them on the break.

By Stevie Grieve. (Follow on Twitter @steviegrieve)  Stevie is also the author Coaching the 4-2-3-1Coaching the 4-2-3-1 Advanced Tactics and From Futsal to Soccer

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