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How Juventus Stopped Milan's 3 Game Winning Streak: Video Analysis

Juventus and Milan, two legendary Italian clubs, faced off on Thursday for what might have been a turning point in the Serie A. While AC Milan has been enjoying a great run of form with the help of Ibrahimovic, Juventus, currently in 4th place, needed a win to earn their place in the top three. The game ended in a 3-1 win for Juventus. Today, we will take a look at what attacking tactic that Juventus used, as well as defensive tactics that eliminated the chances for Milan to attack forward.

Out of the back, Juventus constantly placed two of their CB’s in the box to build out of place. Just in front, the DCM was placed just outside of box as an outlet, as well as RB and LB who placed themselves near the touchline. For the midfielders, their main objective was to support the LB and RB once they gain position by coming near the possession holder and build from the touchline.

However, Milan did a great job in the first 10 minutes of play. Forward man marked the CBs, as well as the ACM man marking the DCM for Juventus. This ultimately forced Juventus to play to their fullbacks, which set the pressing trigger for AC Milan to high press with numbers to regain possession, or to force Juventus to play long balls over the top. In addition, because Milan orients in a man marking system, immediate press can be implemented with relatively no confusion on who to press

In order to counter this, Juventus used Milan’s man marking system to their own benefit. Because Milan high presses near the touchline with a man marking system, there will always be an open space in the central area of the field (where CMs for Milan used to be). In order to exploit this space, Juventus purposely attracted Milan’s players to press by coming near the ball holder, which ultimately disorganized the central area of the field. In order to use this space, Juventus used a +1 player (usually the CDM) to occupy that space once it became available. Although the pressing from Milan can be intense near the touchline, they often struggle with keeping track of their player and leaving open spaces for Juventus to exploit. The Juventus manager, Pirlo, saw this trend early in the game, and adjusted the buildup.

In the midfield, Juventus were once again pressed near the touchline. In order to get out of pressure, players came near the possession holder to create passing options, as well as creating space in between the defensive and midfield line. However, the main difference of getting out of pressure from buildup to midfield was the usage of rotations.

As explained above, Milan does a great job with pressing near the touchline, but often create spaces due to getting dragged out of position due to their man marking system. With the usage of rotation, the similar situation occurred as shown below.

In the example above, CDM (2) brings the ball near the touchline to invite Milan to pressure near the touchline. As expected, each player from Milan presses their own respective player (2:1, 9:4, 1:5, 4,2). Because Juventus is aware of Milan’s pressing system, 5 for Juventus drags out 1 out of position to create space between the defensive and midfield line. Due to the creation of space, the original player who started the play, 2, advances in the space created and brings the ball forward. As explained above, Milan fails to track their mark, which ultimately leads to Juventus receiving the ball in open space.

Below is the actual example of Juventus using rotations against Milan.

In the opposition half, Juventus’s forwards were instructed to run in behind or to check for the ball to create disruption in the defensive line as shown below.

As shown above, forwards for Juventus was not instructed to receive balls in behind the defensive line, but rather create/disrupt defensive line by making runs in behind/back for CM to run in. The combination of man marking and poor tracking from Milan created multiple opportunity for Juventus.

Combination of forward’s run and failure to track players leading to open spaces caused negative outcomes for Milan. In addition, Juventus were instructed to have one player on the touchline to stretch the opposition backline. By doing this, it creates two choices for the Milan’s fullbacks: immediate pressure to the player on the touchline, or to remain with the backline and wait for midfield to pressure. If the fullback decides to press the ball holder, it is crucial for the CDM to cover the space between the fullback and the CB. If the situation is in the final third, an open space between the fullback and the CB tends to be the final third's half space, which is the most dangerous area for high xG and xA.

In the example below, all three of Juventus’s goals came from movements of the forwards creating space for CM to run in and stretching the opposition backline, which resulted with poor defensive recognition such as failure to track players and leaving dangerous areas open (such as the half space).

For defense, Juventus utilized a 4-4-2 compact defensive mid block in the midfield, and 4-4-2 compact defensive low block in their own final third. The main purpose of this defensive system was to create defensive overload in the center of the field, eliminate space between the defensive and midfield line, and to force Milan to go near the touchline. Once on the touchline, that set the pressing trigger to implement press from the Juventus players near the ball. From this, Milan resulted to back pass, or losing possession.

Before Juventus, AC Milan was enjoying a three game winning streak. However, Juventus came prepared and pinpointed Milan’s weakness and utilized Milan’s pressing for their own benefit. In addition, the movement from Juventus caused problems for Milan, which ultimately led to the 3-1 scoreline. It will be interesting to see how Juventus led by the legendary player, Pirlo, will end up when the season ends.

Article written by Bennet Luethje

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