Monday, January 14, 2013

Time for the 4-3-3 ?

With Andrea Barzagli, Peluso and Caceres all having failed to fill the significant space left behind by Chiellini at various stages this season, it may well be the right time now for coach Antonio Conte to look at new ways to cover for the loss of Italy’s best defender. Throw in the continued lack of firepower in the forward line, and there is plenty of reason to believe that Juventus may be able to regain control of games by switching to a 4-3-3 formation.

Conte used the formation a lot during his early days in charge of the Turin side in late 2011, and the change to a three-man forward line bore fruit in the midweek Coppa Italia victory over AC Milan. Having an extra player in attack would allow Giovinco to play in the wide left slot in which he was infinitely more successful with Parma last season than he has been so far this term. He is currently on course to fall short of his 15-goal output of 2011-12, despite playing in a more dominant side which has had much more success in terms of possession and territory. Coming from the left, he looks far more comfortable in taking on full-backs and picking holes in defences.
The switch to four in defence would help to make up for the loss of Asamoah as well as Chiellini. Though the Ghana international is not a natural defender, his influence down the left in a defensive capacity should not be underestimated. And without him on the flank, Juve have struggled to give Chiellini’s understudy the required assistance in closing out dangerous opposing attackers. If Conte were to employ an orthodox full-back such as Paolo De Ceglie, or even switch Stephan Lichtsteiner to the left with Caceres or Mauricio Isla employed on the right, centre-backs Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli would be provided with the extra support that is lacking right now.
Bonucci has never excelled in a back four in the way that he has since Juve first switched to a 3-5-2, but with each passing game without Chiellini, the more opponents are able to exploit space behind the wing-backs, stretch the back three, and find holes from there. For now, this has to be the better option at a time when the Bianconeri are struggling to put together anything like the kind of performances that have become their trademark over the past 16 months.
With the in-form Udinese to come to the Juventus Stadium next week, Conte must consider a change of formation. If the current run of bad form continues, then they could find themselves in a Scudettorace that seemed unlikely to ever exist only 10 days ago.

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