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UEFA Champions League FINAL Tactical Analysis: Juventus Vs Real Madrid

Written by: Punit Tripathi

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As Juventus and Real Madrid prepare to do battle in the Final of the Champions League Khel Now looks at the tactical permutations that will decide this fascinating battle between the immovable object and the irresistible force...

Come June the 3rd, the world will once again sit up and take notice of the showpiece given to the veteran of many-a-battles and the king of Europe. The mantelpiece on the line has stopped the clock in history and the upcoming face-off is set to be full of drama, determination and desire. Juventus and the Real Madrid will travel to Wales, the hometown of Gareth Bale, one of the costliest features in world football at the moment, one who is certain to make an impact.

Having been battered and bruised in their domestic tournaments, both teams have won their respective leagues this season, proving their dominance in Spain and Italy already, and are now ready to conquer Europe. Here, we take a look at the tactical analysis which will give you an incredible insight into what could unfold on what is expected to be a warm evening at the National Stadium in Wales.

FORMATIONS AND TACTICS

 

How Juventus Attack
3-2-5
How Real Madrid Defend
4-2-3-1
 

 

Juventus attack in the most read way in modern football. A positional shift with no real change in shape but an overload in the attacking third. Wing-backs Dani Alves and Alex Sandro play key roles, understanding the aerial abilities of the towering presence of Mario Mandzukic and Gonzalo Higuain.The shape turns to 3-2-5 when Massimiliano Allegri’s men attack, with the full-backs playing as wingers who can both cross and cut in, as and when space is provided. Miralem Pjanic and Sami Khedira are expected to move up closer to the box, but one of them, predictably Khedira, will always stay back in a more defensive role to stop the ever-threatening counter-attacks and Pjanic can be expected to be the aggressor of the two.

The Serie A winners have scored 50 goals from open play this season (65%) and play in a system of short passes. It can be easily gauged that the Argentine No. 9 in the side is their prime target man, and the former Real Madrid striker has proven his credentials, scoring 32 goals in the process.

Paulo Dybala has also scored 15 goals already, four of them coming in the European tournament. The Argentine, though, is expected to make way for the more hard-working Juan Cuadrado, as the Columbian might exploit the space behind Marcelo in a better way.Higuain is set to be the target man his teammates will look to in terms of getting the goals. Mario Mandzukic, Dybala and Cuadrado are no pushovers in bursting the net, having scored 27 goals together this season. The team will try to achieve early ascendency and will look to shock their opponents, sitting back after that. Pjanic and Khedira need to be at their passing best, as the midfielders will be expected to carry the ball into the opposition half and not lose possession to the vibrant Brazilian Casemiro.It remains to be seen whether the future Argentine baton-holder makes the starting XI, and if he does, it will be interesting to see his duel with South American counterpart Marcelo on the left side of the pitch. The team plays the ball on the ground, 84% of them being short passes.   

More than Sergio Ramos and Pepe or Raphael Varane, whoever starts alongside the club captain, it is Casemiro who is more important to the team’s defensive shape. The Brazilian has added steel and a different dimension to the defensive structure. Ever since Claude Makelele left for Chelsea and Jose Mourinho, Real Madrid have never boasted of a defensive midfielder in the league of Casemiro.

The team, however, depend a lot on the pressing of their attacking line. Not as fast and dedicated as the gegenpressing in Jurgen Klopp’s system, Real Madrid are a different breed of galacticos under Zinedine Zidane and the French manager expects  Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Bale/Isco to cut off the supply to the opposition midfield, something which will be key to the team’s game-play.

Juventus’ ball-playing centre-back Leonardo Bonucci is expected to be kept on his toes and Benzema will pick him out to start the defensive action. Bonucci is noted to be the starter of most moves Juventus create and cutting the supply from the 29-year old can be a massive advantage for the team looking to be the first club to defend their Champions League crown.

In terms of shape, Real Madrid defend in a simple 4-2-3-1 with Casemiro helped by Luka Modric in the dual pivot just in front of the defensive four. Toni Kroos will feed off Modric to start counter-attacks. Ronaldo and Isco/Bale will join the German No. 8 in the third line of defence, leaving Karim Benzema at the top of the pitch.

 



Trailer of the Epic UEFA Champions League final match .

 

How Juventus Defend
5-3-2
How Real Madrid Attack
2-2-4-2
 
 

Juventus defend in two ways. A three-man defence, which has been their perpetual strength, lineup and provides no space to any opposition attack with Bonucci playing the ball out with Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli strongly holding the fort. The Italian backline is heroically supported by none other than Gigi Buffon, touted by many as the finest goalkeeper the last generation has seen.

If the Bianconeri are to stop the Phoenix which goes by the name of Ronaldo, they need to limit space between the centre-backs. The Madrid No. 9 knows a thing or two about finding the weaker links in a defensive space and it will be interesting to see how the powerful Portuguese makes his presence felt on the biggest stage once again.Pjanic and Khedira will be expected to operate at the tip of their own boxes, with the left side flanked by both Sandro and Mandzukic, a player who plays his heart out for the cause.

The right side will be taken care of by former Barcelona player Alves and the Brazilian will be looking to do a favor to his ex-employers.In terms of shape, the team will defend in a formation similar to a 5-3-2, with the full-backs joining the back three. The next two in the form of Khedira and Pjanic will be helped by Mandzukic, and the other two, expectedly Higuain and Dybala, will sit atop. If Cuardado gets to start, the team will also be helped by him on the right and Higuain will be left alone. 

 

The Los Blancos have the costliest attack in the world if Gareth Bale makes it to the final XI. The team plays a transitional sort of game-play in the attacking third, with Ronaldo playing the role of the left forward only as a hoax. The former Manchester United winger is easily the deadliest striker in the world at the moment, with his runs in channels and heading abilities second to none in the game’s history.

Benzema, on the other hand, will be the man to hold-up play for the La Liga winners. The French striker will be fed well with Kroos and Modric operating behind. The full-back pair of Dani Carvajal and Marcelo is the world’s most attacking-minded defensive edge holders and they will fill the gaps left by a more internally positioned Ronaldo and a cutting-in Bale, if he starts.

The team will feed off well from crosses, and will attack in the form of a 2-2-3-3 with Sergio Ramos and his centre-back partner furthest behind, Casemiro and Modric sitting just on the tip of the opposition midfield, Marcelo and Carvajal joining Kroos in the second line of attack and putting balls into the box and Bale and Ronaldo joining Benzema in the box. Benzema will also be asked to pull defenders out of position so that Ronaldo can get that little more space to operate and benefit from the crosses well fed from the wings.

The dynamic, though, changes if Isco comes in the place of the No. 11. The former Malaga player adds creativity to the squad that no other player provides and then, the team will attack in a 2-2-4-2 formation, with Isco subtracting the numbers from the box and adding it just over Kroos. The playmaker has been in devastating form and will add another dimension to Madrid’s attacking game. The lay-offs from clearances will be expected to be handled by Modric and Kroos, players expected to do a lot of attackirecycling. 

 

ANALYSIS


Strengths –

Juventus

Inarguably, the defence. The collective age of the defence might be on the wrong side of 30, but they still give every opposition a run for their money. The fiery and enigmatic Kylian Mbappe was easily fended off and the calmness of Gianluigi Buffon has not allowed a goal in over 10 hours, except the one scored by Mbappe in the second leg of the semi-finals.

More than defending, breaching the opposition’s attack will be on Zidane’s mind. The French gaffer has played in Turin and knows the values and defensive methods used at the club, but no Italian club has overseen a more successful defensive trio than the current partnership of Chiellini, Barzagli and Bonucci.

Real Madrid

This was a toss-up between two areas on the pitch, but we give the thumps-up to the team’s creative midfield. Spearheaded by ‘German Sniper’ Toni Kroos and ‘Cruyff of the Balkan’ Luka Modric, these two players are sure to pull strings from the centre of the pitch and are expected to play strong roles as both clubs vie for continental glory. Just controlling the midfield, though, will not be enough as these two will be entrusted to breach the impregnable defensive shape of the Italian club.

The attacking troika of BBC or BIC was also weighed well but lost out in terms of clinical effect if Ronaldo’s impact is discounted. Bale has suffered an injury too many already this season and Benzema is probably playing the second fiddle to the centrally-looming Ronaldo. It will be interesting to see the third artist in the ploy up ahead, as both Isco and Bale add different characteristics to the team’s shape

 Weaknesses –

Juventus

Creation of chances. The team has played pretty good football and has attacked with authority, but their lack of creative prowess can easily be seen on the pitch. The team usually creates close to five goal-scoring opportunities every game, which might not be enough to see out Los Blancos. Pjanic, Cuadrado and Dybala will be given the responsibility in the attacking third, the latter two being key to the team’s scoring options.

Higuain is not someone who will create chances out of nothing and if the game goes beyond the first ninety minutes, we might see a penalty shootout decide fates once again.

 Real Madrid

It's defence. While Marcelo has developed immensely into a strong presence on the left both in attack and defensively, it must be said that the Brazilian left-back, at times, has erred in decision making and has left a little space behind him to be exploited. Ramos’ weaknesses are well known by opposition striker and long-time friend Higuain, who has himself played at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Varane adds speed to the defence, and Pepe adds experience and stability, but it will be a difficult choice as Varane is known to have his moments of inconsistency and lapses in concentration while Pepe might lose his temper if provoked. Hence, the Spanish captain will need to calm the ship at the back and ensure his attacking teammates do the job well.

Juventus Key Player: Leonardo Bonucci
Real Madrid Key Player: Cristiano Ronaldo
 

 

Strikers score goals and goals win you games, but such has been Bonucci’s importance to the Allegri system that the 29-year old is probably more important than the No. 9. Playing in the centre of the back three, Bonucci’s defensive and playmaking skills, both, can make or break the game for the Italians.

He will be tasked with marking Benzema, and the French striker is certain to press him when he’s on the ball. Benzema will also look to drag Bonucci out of his position to create space between the two other central defenders. Bonucci will look to win the ball at the back and pass it forward to the central midfield pair of Pjanic and Khedira. Bonucci can also be a lay-off point to switch play to the wings.



The Portuguese captain is bound to be the central figure to everything Madrid do in the opposition half, and the free-scoring No. 9 has turned into everything a defender fears. He runs into spaces, has the leap of a giant basketball player, is probably the most powerful header of the ball after Carles Puyol’s retirement and is known to score key goals in cruntch situations.

If Los Blancos want to lift the Champions League for the second time in two years, Ronaldo will have to be at his incisive best. The winger-turned-forward will be expected to lead the line and his presence at the top will be a feast for audiences. His attacking panache in the box against the resilience of the defensive warriors of Juventus will be a battle within a battle.

Published: Fri Jun 02, 2017 06:45 PM IST

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