Juventus will be in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals for the second time in the last three years, fortified with a defence that has non conceded a goal for 531’ consecutive minutes, becoming the first formation since the days of Bayern Munich 2012-13 to have eliminated Barcelona without conceding a goal in the first or second round match.

The two goals conceded in the ten matches played in Europe are not at all by chance, but the result of work set up over the years, first by Antonio Conte and then perfected by Massimiliano Allegri.
The fundamentals of the three-man defence were joined by a flexibility and an ability to interpret the match unlike any other in the world.
This is the true secret of the current Juventus, a team able to achieve enviable defensive stability despite the presence of four attacking players (Cuadrado, Dybala and Mandzukic in support of Higuain) and a midfielder like Pjanic with such offensive characteristics.

The Match Analyst  juventus-barcelona-formation

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For the first time in their history in UEFA Champions League, Juventus has formed up with the same eleven starters for the second match in a row: the base formation is the 4-2-3-1 invented by Allegri after the January KO in Florence.
The strong point of this formation is the possibility of lining up all the highest quality players, from full back Dani Alves to Mandzukic, a re-invented left outside midfielder.
However, the impressive thing on a tactical level is the flexibility. The team always stays compact to within a few metres, careful to press just as much as they cover the open spaces.
And, whenever needed, they steer toward a five-man rear guard, as happened from Barzagli’s entrance at Camp Nou.

The Match Analyst  juventus-barcelona-shots

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The map of Barcelona’s shots in the second round match explains all of Juventus’ strength.
Out of 17 shots, only one was on goal. The striking thing is not so much that the Spaniards took many more shots from a distance than usual (7 times – s41%), as it is that the shots from the penalty area were never on target.
This means that in most cases they were forced shots.

The Match Analyst  juventus-barca-pressing-1

The Match Analyst  juventus-barca-pressing-2

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In Barcelona, Juventus expressed a calculated and perfected revival of the match played a year ago in Munich for the second round against Bayern.
In other words, it was a perfect summary of situational pressing and deep defence.
When the Blaugrana tried to set up deep, the Bianconeri pressed in order to prevent the home team from easily crossing the centre line.
This also means accepting one-on-one play with Messi and Saurez, as happened in the second image.
Chiellini pushed forward, but Bonucci and Alex Sandro were not afraid to hold a high line against the two Catalan attackers.

The Match Analyst  juventus-barcelona-defence

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With a deep aligned defence, the Juventus formation becomes a 4-4-2 that can also lead to adding one of the two outside midfielders on the defensive line, depending on the position of the ball.
With extremely tight lines and sacrifice from everyone, they were able to keep Messi from making the right decision.
How? By drastically reducing his playing time. A deep line, yes, but still reactive and ready to move depending on the game play situations.
Something unique in the European football arena.

Mattia Fontana
Eurosport Italia editor.