By Brian Homewood
Juventus have shown an uncanny ability to change their approach according to the circumstances and coach Massimiliano Allegri now has to decide which version of his side he wants to face Barcelona in the Champions League final next month.
Juventus, the first Italian side to reach the final since 2010, have won Serie A by playing a possession-based, attacking game, with a diamond in midfield and pressing deep in the opponents’ half.
In the Champions League, they have alternated between that approach and what critics describe as old-school Italian style, in which they field three central defenders, pack their team into the last third of the field and strike on the break.
Allegri often switches between the two styles during the match as he did in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at Real Madrid which gave his team a 3-2 semi-final aggregate win.
With Real pushing forward for a winner, Allegri took off playmaker Andrea Pirlo and brought in Andrea Barzagli as a third central defender.
Juve also played with the three-man defence for an hour in their tie away to Borussia Dortmund, picking off the frustrated Germans on the counter-attack on their way to a 3-0 win, and the whole of their quarter-final second leg at Monaco.
One of Allegri’s favourite phrases is about “administering the match”, an ability which he regards as fundamental in his players.
They carried out his instructions to the letter at the Bernabeu on Wednesday, although they have occasionally allowed their attacking instincts to get the better of them.
In a recent Serie A match at Torino, Allegri criticised his team for continuing to pour forward after scoring an early goal, allowing their neighbours to hit back for a 2-1 win.
“There are certain phases in the game in which you also need to wait and be patient,” he said at the time. “You have to know how to read the game and handle the result.”
Allegri now has to decide which approach to start with in Berlin in the final on June 6, where his side are clear underdogs against the attacking might of Barcelona.
“A lot of credit must also go to Allegri, as he has always changed the menu, by which I mean the formation,” said Frenchman Patrice Evra, who will be playing in his fifth Champions League final after one with Monaco and three with Manchester United.
“Now, we’ll see which menu he has in store for us in Berlin.”