Tag Archives: Vidal

Juventus 3-0 Roma


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Juventus extended their lead at the top of Serie A to eight points with an impressive victory over Roma.


Antonio Conte fielded his preferred starting eleven, as he welcomed back Andrea Pirlo from injury.

Rudi Garcia made no significant changes to his 4-3-3. Francesco Totti, Gervinho and Adem Ljajic led the line, while Kevin Strootman, Miralem Pjanic and Daniele De Rossi formed a midfield trio.

This fixture had no major tactical theme – Juventus’ approach without the ball nullified Roma’s main attacking threat.

Juventus without the ball

One of the most significant feats in this match was Juventus’ approach without the ball. Opposed to bringing the match to the away side, Conte instructed his men to sit deep in their half and minimize space between the lines for Totti to drift into.


This approach was logical because it ensured there was no space behind the Juventus backline to attack on the counter and Totti would be unable to drag defenders out of position. Conte’s men sat in two compact banks of four, with Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente sitting a few yards ahead of the midfield to maintain Juventus’ shape.


Conte’s midfield trio sat in front of the back line, as Juventus became a 5-3-2, considering Stephan Lichtsteiner and Kwadwo Asamoah sat deeper then usual. Vidal and Pogba pushed out wide when Roma’s fullbacks received the ball, to prevent them from pushing forward, and they diligently dropped deeper to ensure that their wingback wasn’t isolated against Roma’s front three – this meant Tevez and Llorente dropped into these central areas preserve structure in midfield.

Juventus’ approach out of possession was significant – Garcia’s men were left flabbergasted in possession, as the home side stifled their main attacking threats.

Roma struggle

Juventus’ reactive approach meant Roma enjoyed majority of the possession throughout the match. Apart from Tevez occasionally closing down defenders, and Juventus’ attempt to press from goal-kicks, Roma’s centrebacks, along with De Rossi, were free to push forward.

The issue that Roma encountered – besides Juventus’ great organization – was their slow ball circulation and a focal point in attack. Strootman retained possession well and Pjanic – who looked injured – attempted to penetrate, but the midfielders’ impact was minimal. Gervinho was caught offside when he broke into good positions, and was always put into 1v2 situations when he intended on isolating a wingback – and Ljajic drifted infield desperately looking for gaps to penetrate.


Totti found it difficult to grow into the match, and he failed to create space for Roma’s attacker to run into. Whenever Totti dropped deep to receive the ball the closest Juventus centreback stuck tight to the Italian – Vidal also tracked his movement and closed Totti down when he roamed around the halfway line.

Ultimately, the only way Roma could create an opportunity to expose Juventus on the counter would be to press the Juventus backline higher up the pitch, or force them to concede possession in their third, and quickly commit men forward. Ljajic received a great chance early in the match when Totti dispossessed Leonardo Bonucci, but besides that effort, Buffon made routine saves to preserve his clean sheet.

Despite monopolizing majority of the possession, the away side rarely created legitimate goal-scoring opportunities because they couldn’t find openings in Juventus’ shape. The ball circulation was slow, their playmakers were nullified, and there was no space in the final third for Gervinho to attack.

Pirlo – De Rossi

Although Roma opted to drop into their shape and allow Juventus’ centrebacks to play from the back, Garcia instructed his men to press Pirlo. Totti was handed the duty to track the Italian maestro, and Pjanic occasionally stepped in when Totti was out of position. Garcia’s attempt to nullify Pirlo was logical, but as the game wore on, the Italian found it easier to receive the ball and build attacks from deep – this was down to fitness levels, and Roma’s lack of structure without the ball.


On the other hand, De Rossi was free to play passes from deep – he often switched balls towards the fullbacks, but rarely played long diagonal balls or forward penetrating passes. De Rossi’s passing was conservative, and while his passing rate was phenomenal, it didn’t influence Roma’s attack. Here, De Rossi often dropped between the two Roma centre-backs to ensure a numerical advantage at the back, and help push Dodo and Maicon forward.

Although neither man dominated the match from midfield, both held pivotal roles – Pirlo helped Juventus get into better attacking positions as the match wore on, whereas De Rossi’s presence prevented Juventus’ strike force from isolating the Roma’s centrebacks.


The home side’s threat from open-play was minimal, but they efficiently executed set-pieces. In fairness, Pogba and Vidal ignited attacks on the break, but their final ball let them down – however, Roma looked vulnerable defending set-pieces, and Juventus took advantage.

Juventus’ opening goal came from a simple Lichtsteiner throw-in that led to the Swiss wingback playing a pass into Tevez, who cleverly turned De Rossi, slid an incisive ball towards Vidal, and the Chilean beat Morgan De Sanctis at the near post. 20 minutes later, Pirlo tricked the Roma defence into thinking he’d play a ball into the six-yard box, and laid it off to Pogba, whose shot was blocked – Roma failed to clear their lines and Barzagli’s diagonal pass to Tevez subsequently led to the Argentinian striker whipping a ball across the six-yard box, which Bonucci couldn’t latch onto.

Bonucci doubled the home side’s lead minutes into the second half, when he broke free from Leandro Castan and guided in Pirlo’s free-kick at the far post. Roma further displayed their inability to defend set-pieces when Chiellini nodded back Pirlo’s free-kick at the far post and Castan handled the ball in the area, thus leading to his dismissal and a penalty, which Mirko Vucinic converted. Although Juventus’ influence from open-play was minimal, Conte’s men exposed Roma through set-pieces, and were rewarded with three goals.


Garcia opted to bring on Mattia Destro and Vasilis Torosidis for Pjanic and Dodo, as Roma moved to a 4-2-3-1.


The move was logical as Roma now possessed a focal point in attack, but unfortunately for the away side, they struggled to get the ball into Destro – Pjanic’s departure deprived the away side of any penetration, as they were left with Strootman’s complacent passing and De Rossi in a deeper role.


Garcia’s final attempt to alter the match saw Alessandro Florenzi replace Totti, but De Rossi and Castan were sent off within four minutes of his introduction. With Roma down to nine-men away from home against the champions, the match was over, and Juventus comfortably sustained their two-goal lead.


Juventus’ defensive solidity and set-piece efficiency merited three points – this was far from their best performance of the season, yet their defensive display was superb, as Conte’s men stifled Roma’s attack.

Roma dominated possession for large portions of the match, but the away side lacked invention, guile and penetration when they broke into Juventus’ half. Garcia’s men circulated the ball too slow, allowing Juventus to maintain their shape, while their set-piece defending was abysmal. Roma have overachieved by some margin this season – considering this is their first loss of the season – and if they can positively bounce back from this result, then the title race is far from over.

Roma’s overall performance wasn’t great – nor was it poor – here, they lost to a better side, executing a well-thought-out approach.

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Posted by on January 6, 2014 in Match Recaps, Published Work


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Juventus 2-2 Real Madrid


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Real Madrid secured a berth in the Champions League knockout round as they earned a valuable draw in Turin.


Antonio Conte introduced Leonardo Bonucci  to his starting eleven for the suspended Giorgio Chiellini, while Kwadwo Asamoah slotted in at left back for Angelo Ogbonna.

Carlo Ancelotti made a few changes to the side that defeated Juventus at the Santiago Bernabeu a few weeks ago. Gareth Bale and Xabi Alonso made their first starts in the Champions League this season, while Raphael Varane’s inclusion in the back four, pushed Sergio Ramos to right back.

This match showcased a recurring theme that’s been displayed by both sides this season – Juventus dominated the opening 45 minutes, but Real Madrid’s energetic pressing led to a vast improvement in their second half performance.

Juventus Shape

Conte’s men mirrored the approach utilized at the Bernabeu, by dropping into a 4-5-1 without the ball. Claudio Marchisio and Carlos Tevez were instructed to prevent Sergio Ramos and Marcelo from pushing forward, but they sat narrow alongside the midfield three to minimize gaps. They had a fairly easy time coping with Madrid due to the lack of cohesion in Ancelotti’s attack. Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo were higher up the pitch, while Modric and Khedira sat close to Alonso in a deeper position.

With Madrid’s full backs monitored, and their midfield unable to find gaps in central areas, Conte’s men didn’t face many issues on the defensive end. Khedira didn’t offer any attacking threat going forward, and Vidal admirably tracked Modric, when he attempted to dribble forward. In particular, Vidal was superb in midfield, breaking up play with his combative tackles, intercepting passes and quickly leading the transition from defence to attack.


Similar to the fixture two weeks ago, Madrid was stifled in midfield, and this was down to Ancelotti’s approach and Juventus’ shape.

Pirlo vs. Alonso

Ancelotti was pleased to welcome back Alonso to the side, seeing as they missed a player of his stature in midfield. Like Pirlo, Alonso sits deeper in midfield, but he tends to play diagonal cross-field balls to build the attack. It’s a key element in Madrid’s game that they’ve lacked during his absence, as no other midfielder in Ancelotti’s squad possesses his passing range.

The key feat in both approaches was the ability to nullify the prolific deep-lying playmakers. At the Bernabeu we witnessed Karim Benzema press Pirlo for a small portion of the match to some effect, but allowed the Italian to dictate the match in the latter stages, prior to Giorgio Chiellini’s sending off. And once again Benzema was handed the duty to track Pirlo when Juventus had possession of the ball.

Nonetheless, one of the main components that led to Juventus’ superiority in midfield was Pirlo’s freedom and Conte’s intent on nullifying Alonso. Benzema’s defensive work on Pirlo didn’t improve, and once again the Italian maestro was free to facilitate passes into the channels and wide areas.


However, Conte was weary of Alonso’s threat, and instructed Llorente to close him down whenever he received the ball.


The contrast in forward passes is evident between the two deep-lying playmakers, and it was down to the work ethic of both strikers.


It was strange seeing Bonucci given time on the ball considering his proficient range of passing, and for the most part Juventus had two exceptional passing outlets available going forward. Ancelotti’s defensive tactics were once again naïve, and it led to Juventus’ first half superiority. Alonso’s impact on the match was limited, and this is an approach most sides will take if they encounter Madrid in the latter stages of this competition.

Space in wide areas

Although Juve’s attacking approach was logical, they enjoyed space in wide areas due to Madrid’s shape. The initial aim was to drop into two banks of four without the ball, which explains why it was odd to see Ancelotti’s men defend with seven men – leaving the three attackers higher up the pitch.

With Madrid already outnumbered in midfield, Ancelotti’s men couldn’t afford to leave their fullbacks without sufficient protection. Initially Asamoah was cautious about surging into advanced position – which was logical based on Madrid’s threat on the counter – thus handing the onus to Caceres to get forward. The Uruguayan took advantage of the space behind Ronaldo, and was one of Pirlo’s favored passing option aft. In the second half, it was Caceres’ cross that found Llorente in the box, which saw Conte’s men equalize.

Juve’s superiority in midfield was clear in the first fixture, and the spare man was often Paul Pogba, as Khedira failed to track his runs. Pogba produced another decent outing on the left side, specifically on the break as he freely attacked space. Specifically, there were two separate occasions – besides his outside foot cross that deflected off of Pepe – that led to legitimate goal-scoring opportunities.

  1. Vidal did well to sustain possession and played a scintillating ball to Pogba, who drove forward and played a pass to the oncoming Tevez. Tevez looked up and delivered a quality cross to the back post towards Marchisio, but Iker Casillas denied the Italian midfielder.
  1. Llorente received a flick-on from Vidal, and dropped deep with the ball to play a pass to Tevez on the flank. Tevez drove at the defence, and played an incisive ball into the box for the advancing Pogba. Pogba received the ball, forcing Varane to come across and make a last-ditch tackle on the French midfielder, thus resulting in a penalty.

Juventus were exceptional in the first half, and a few top-class Casillas saves prevented Conte’s men from increasing their lead. Nevertheless, Madrid’s shape without the ball was bizarre, yet beneficial to Juventus, who penetrated space in wide areas.

Madrid press

Ancelotti’s men enjoyed a great start to the second half, and that was down to their work rate without the ball. Opposed to the first half, where Juventus was allowed to freely play out of the back, Ancelotti instructed his men to press higher up the pitch. Madrid’s front six squeezed Juventus in their own half and forced them to either play long balls or concede possession in their own half.

Conte’s men were unable to sustain possession and break past Madrid’s press, which ultimately led to Ronaldo’s equalizer. Luka Modric pressed Caceres, Ronaldo cut off the passing lane to Andrea Barzagli, Karim Benzema was near Bonucci and Alonso closed down Pirlo. Caceres played a poor pass into Benzema, and the Frenchman ran towards the Juventus defence, before playing in Ronaldo, who solemnly chipped Gianluigi Buffon.

Ancelotti’s men posed a sufficient attacking threat when they pressed high, as they won the ball in key areas in the final third, and began to dictate the match.

Second half

There’s been a recurring theme in the way both sides perform in the final 45 minutes of matches, and it was displayed in the second half. Madrid have produced more adventurous displays in the second half, while Juventus endure massive energy dip in their performance levels.

There was an overall improvement in Madrid’s second half performance, and the success of their high press proved to be beneficial. Juventus began to drop deeper into their third when Madrid had possession of the ball, and Modric was more inventive with his passing.


The Croatian midfielder began to push forward into attacking positions, as he picked out positive passes between the lines and in wide areas.


Also, Ramos began to push forward in the latter stages of the second half, as Tevez failed to track his runs. There were two separate occasions that saw Ramos fouled by Bonucci at the edge of the box, and his shot being blocked in the 18-yard box, after beating Asamoah in a 1v1. Madrid posed a larger threat on the break – Ronaldo and Benzema were receiving balls between the lines and Ancelotti urged his men to play Ronaldo into 1v1 situations. Juventus did have their chances in the second half, but a lack of penetration in the final third and quality in their passes, prevented them from nicking a winner.


Casillas’ brilliance in the opening 45 minutes, along with Madrid’s improved second half display secured first place in Group B. Both sides looked threatening on the counter, but all four goals were down to defensive miscues, highlighting how vulnerable both sides were without the ball.

Ancelotti’s initial tactics were questionable, but once again Madrid produced a positive second half performance to earn a point. Their defensive shape, and their overall build up play between midfield and attack still needs grooming, but Madrid continue to find ways to win during this significant transitional period.

“I’m leaving here feeling satisfied with my team’s second-half performance,” Ancelotti said. 

“The reaction was very good on our part. After the break we were much better in terms of courage and aggression,” he added. 

On the other hand, Juventus are in a favourable predicament ahead of their final two matches. Conte will be disappointed with their second half dip, but progression is still attainable. Two wins and they’re in. It sounds straightforward, but Conte’s men will need to improve on both ends if they want to achieve maximum points.

“We deserve more points than we have, but when you face a team like Real Madrid, who have players that can turn the match around in a few minutes, there’s not much you can do,” Conte said. 

“My team played a great game tonight – we played very well especially in the first half, just like we had planned to. It’s the sixth game in 18 days for us and it’s normal to be a little tired,” he added.

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Posted by on November 6, 2013 in Match Recaps, Published Work


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2 Guys and a MIKE – Champions League Podcast April 11

The 2 Guys and a Mike crew analyze what transpired this week in the Champions League. They talk about Video replay, Conte’s reality check and is Barcelona reliant on Messi? They also discuss who will advance to the final at Wembley!


Posted by on April 11, 2013 in Podcasts


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Manchester United’s junk is Juventus’ treasure

Today instead of analyzing the MOTD on a mediocre web stream, I opted to sit back make a peanut butter sandwich and enjoy Juventus take on Udinese. With Lazio drawing earlier at Palermo 2-2, Juventus had the opportunity to go 5 points clear at the top of the Serie A table.

And they did.

With a few key starters out of the line up such as Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio, Juventus was still able to blitz Francesco Guidolin’s side 4-0.

In short, it was a pretty poor game. Udinese failed to trouble Gianluigi Buffon and Juventus was below par in the final third for large portions of the match.

It ultimately took two moments of brilliance from 19-year-old Paul Pogba to separate the sides. Pogba was by far the best player on the pitch, and these two strikes determined the outcome of the match.

After watching those goals, you wouldn’t believe that Pogba is a former Manchester United player.

Well he is.

Pogba left United for Juventus over the summer to pursue 1st team football. Lets face it with a midfield of Pirlo, Marchisio and Arturo Vidal he was never going to start many games. Although he hasn’t seen much playing time this season (17 appearances in all competitions), whenever he’s called upon, Pogba has delivered.

Sir Alex Ferguson shared his insight on Pogba’s departure over the summer,

“It’s a bit disappointing because I don’t think he showed us any respect at all. To be honest, if they carry on that way, I’m quite happy that he’s away, from me, anyway.”

Playing with players of Pirlo, Marchisio and Vidal’s calibre will only see Pogba improve, and he already looks capable of starting for Juventus in this fantastic midfield.

Despite sitting in first place in the Premier League, Ferguson is in desperate need of quality midfielders. It’s fair to say Pogba can easily walk into that midfield beside Michael Carrick as a starter. Instead Ferguson has to rely on injury prone Anderson, veterans in Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, Tom Cleverley and Darren Fletcher who’s sidelined for the rest of the season.

That midfield is surely capable of rolling over the large amount of inferior sides in the Premier League, but over the years it has been their downfall in Europe.

With Real Madrid to play in the round of 16, time will tell in whether Ferguson’s midfield can thrive against elite sides.

Nevertheless, a move to Turin has been successful thus far for Pogba. With world-class players, great leaders and a great coach in Antonio Conte, Pogba’s success is in his own hands.

As for Ferguson, it looks like he got it wrong again.

Like Giuseppe Rossi and Gerrard Piqué did earlier in their United careers, Pogba has slipped through the cracks and moved on to something better.

Ferguson might have trouble sleeping at night knowing that he’s lost another gem.

Tyrrell Meertins

Follow @TEEWHYox

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Posted by on January 19, 2013 in Videos


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AC Milan 1-0 Juventus

Match in a sentence

A superb team performance, combined with a controversial penalty call, equaled a second Juventus loss this season against a side from Milan.


  • Massimiliano Allegri opted to line up in a 4-3-3 that saw Kevin Prince Boateng start in the middle with Robinho on the right and Stephan El Shaarawy on the left. The midfield three consisted of Nigel De Jong, Riccardo Montolivo and Antonio Nocerino.
  • Angelo Alessio stuck to a 3-5-2 that saw Mirko Vucinic and Fabio Quagliarella start upfront. Martin Caceres replaced Giorgio Chiellini who wasn’t fit and Mauricio Isla was preferred over Stephan Lichsteiner.
  • Juventus controlled possession from the start of the game, pegging back Milan into 4-3-1-2 with Boateng dropping deeper to help out in the midfield. Milan pressed well and Juventus lost possession several times and it allowed Milan to break. Like they did against Chelsea, whenever El Shaarawy and Robinho ran at the Juventus backline, they looked vulnerable.
  • Juventus found space on the right hand side through Isla, but the Chilean was extremely poor. His crosses weren’t good enough and Milan defender Kevin Constant made easy work of the limited amount of times Isla came forward.
  • Like last seasons 1-1 draw, there was controversy in this game and Isla was involved. Nocerino nodded Robinho’s cross into Isla’s ribs, but the referee pointed to the spot. Robinho placed his shot past Buffon and Milan took the lead.
  • After seeing the replay it was clear that the ball hit Isla’s ribs, but Isla does deserve blame for having his arms in the air while trying to block the shot.

  • In the second half, Simone Padoin replaced Isla, and he had more impact on the game. Padoin stretched the pitch and whipped in dangerous balls into the box. The problem was Juventus players were unable to get on the end of them.
  • Milan had a different approach to the second half as they transitioned into a 4-3-1-2. Boateng stayed deep and helped Montolivo and Co outnumber Juve in the middle, as Milan sat deeper and deeper as a team. They slowly became a 4-5-1 as El Shaarawy tracked back to help Constant and a tiring Robinho led the line.
  • A few changes were made towards the end of the game as Giampaolo Pazzini replaced Robinho for Milan. Paul Pogba and Sebastien Giovinco replaced Fabio Quagliarella and Kwado Asamoah. Pazzini led the line and didn’t offer much, but he held the ball up, which allowed Milan to mount a few counter attacks.
  • Juventus’ changes left them in a 2-6-2 for the final quarter of the match. Caceres provided the width on the left, Pogba was on the right with Padoin, Vidal sat deeper, and Pirlo and Marchisio were advanced. Juventus threw everything at Milan, but were unable to get a goal.
  • Many will blame their midweek fixture against Chelsea for Juventus’ sloppy and fatigued play, but that’s not the case. Juventus lacked creativity in the final third, where they struggle to score goals and create chances. Against Milan they simply weren’t good enough.
  • Milan replicated what their city rivals did earlier this month, as they put in a terrific performance. The midfield of Nocerino, Montolivo and De Jong nullified Marchisio, Pirlo and Vidal. Fullbacks Constant and Mattia De Sciglio did a great job on Juve’s wide men. Milan was organized, compact, and worthy winners on the night. The win caps off a great week as they also advanced into the knockout round of the Champions League. Will this be enough to save Allegri’s job? Possibly not, but it’s a start.

Three Stars

1. Riccardo Montolivo

2. Mattia De Sciglio

3. Kevin Constant


Tyrrell Meertins

Follow @TEEWHYox

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Posted by on November 27, 2012 in Match Recaps


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