Tactical Analysis - Juventus v Manchester United

By Dominic Casciato

In the return fixture from the last game we looked at, Juventus welcomed Manchester United to Turin last week. United were able to come away with a valuable, if somewhat fortunate, three points after a much-improved performance. Here’s a run down of how it happened, powered by Globall Coach…

Formations

United set up in a 4-1-4-1 without the ball, but that shape would move into a 4-2-3-1 with Herrera dropping back to help Matic when the ball entered the final third, or when Bentancur made forward runs.

Juve set up in a 4-4-2 without the ball, with Dybala dropping deeper than Ronaldo to help protect central areas.

Movement In Midfield

One aspect we highlighted in the last fixture between these two clubs was United’s lack of movement through midfield. One of the key reasons for their improved performance this time round was Matic dropping between the CBs, and, at times, between Lindelof and Shaw, to help them build the game. This, along with deeper support from Herrera (and sometimes Pogba), allowed them to progress up the pitch with greater effectiveness.

Another key reason United were better in possession was because of the movement of Jesse Lingard. He constantly came inside from the right, forcing Juventus to respond and become more compact laterally. This then opened up space for Ashley Young advancing down the right flank, an option they used to good effect to switch the play and stretch Juve.

Runners From Midfield

In the first leg, we highlighted United’s problems tracking runners through midfield. Here, they were much better in this regard, with Ander Herrera following runners from midfield well and Anthony Martial tracking the forward runs of De Sciglio down the left.

Goals

Juve had several chances to put the game out of sight, but failed to take them. Khedira and Cuadrado both missed excellent chances when well placed, and Dybala hit the bar.

They took the lead with a magnificent Cristiano Ronaldo volley after a long pass from Leonardo Bonucci in the second half. Ronaldo’s technique was exquisite, striking right-footed after watching the ball sail over his right shoulder. To execute such a difficult skill with the power and precision that he did is a testament to his incredible ability.

Realising that United were still in with a chance at 1-0, Mourinho sent on Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini in the 79th minute. Mata scored with a great free kick from outside the box after 86 minutes,

And then, just moments later, from an Ashley Young wide free kick, Fellaini runs towards the front post trying to flick the ball on. He failed to make contact with the ball, but his run dragged his marker Chiellini with him (along with Bentancur & Barzagli), which cleared the way for the ball to somehow squeeze in at the back post off of Leonardo Bonucci.

In conclusion, despite their improved performance, it was a somewhat fortunate victory for United. It should mean that both teams advance to the knock out rounds, where on this evidence, you’d expect Juventus to go further in the competition than their English counterparts.

You can follow Dominic on Twitter @domcas5.

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Paul Harper