Some tactical notes on Juventus and Tottenham’s pre-season friendly meeting. Juventus won 2-1 thanks to goals from Paulo Dybala and Mehdi Benatia.
Juventus (4-3-2-1): Norberto Neto; Pol Lirola, Mehdi Benatia, Daniele Rugani, Alex Sandro; Mario Lemina, Hernanes, Kwadwo Asamoah; Miralem Pjanic, Roberto Pereyra; Paulo Dybala
Tottenham (4-3-3): Michel Vorm; Kieran Trippier, Dominic Ball, Cameron Carter-Vickers, William Miller; Tom Carroll, Victor Wanyama, Ryan Mason; Nacer Chadli, Vincent Janssen, Son Heung Min
Juventus’ basic shape resembled a 4-3-2-1, though the movements of the front three meant this situationally resembled a 4-3-1-2 or a 4-3-3. Tottenham opted for a basic 4-3-3 which essentially became a 3-4-3 in the attacking phase.
Tottenham’s defensive movement was intensely ball-orientated. They tended to get a lot of men around the opposition ball-player, which occasionally forced Juventus to pass more horizontally, thus making the Italian side’s possession less penetrative at times.
Tottenham’s outside central midfielders, Mason and Carroll, tended to fan out wide in the build-up phase. This was to provide support for and thus enable the forward movement down the wings of the full-backs, Trippier and Miller. This in turn allowed Son and Chadli to move infield to offer forward passing options between the lines.
Juventus’ typical movements in their first line of pressure against Tottenham’s build-up involved their ball-near outside central midfielder (let’s say Lemina) pushing up to cover shadow the opposition ball-near full-back (Miller in this case). In this specific situation, Pjanic would occupy a more central space in and around the opposition defensive midfielder (Wanyama), Dybala would push on to the ball-playing centre-back (Carter-Vickers), while Pereyra would hold a slightly more withdrawn position focusing on the other opposition centre-back (Ball). This was done to cut off passing lanes and restrict Tottenham’s ability to progress the ball effectively into the middle third.
Juventus’ front three were very central-focused without the ball. Pereyra and Pjanic eschewed being pulled wide by the high positioning of Tottenham’s full-backs, instead remaining to form a central trio with Dybala. Hernanes pushed up to support the pressing movements of the front three. This congested space centrally and regularly forced Tottenham to play the ball into wide areas, where Lemina and Asamoah could then pressure the full-backs out on the touchline.
Juventus’ back four was horizontally compact in the defensive phase. Tottenham’s full-backs, who pushed high, remained the concern of Lemina and Asamoah, thus allowing the Juventus full-backs to form a tight defensive line alongside the centre-backs. Having a compact back four ensured Juventus were better able to neutralise what otherwise could have become a qualitative disadvantage facing a front three due to the inward movements of Tottenham’s wingers. It also aided them in dealing with the positioning of said wingers between the lines, as one defender (say Lirola) could leave the defensive line to apply pressure on his winger without the issue of a dangerous two versus two situation arising behind him.
Juventus’ full-backs were also fairly conservative in the attacking phase, rarely venturing far forward down their respective flanks. They did often hold a high position in the build-up of possession, something which was done to stretch Tottenham and create extra space centrally for the midfield trident, or to simply offer a wide out-ball with which to bypass Tottenham’s press through aerial diagonal balls.