In the ninth round of Serie A 2020/21, Benevento hosted Juventus to improve their situation in the standings table. Juventus want to return to their natural position throughout the past years at the top of the standings. Benevento are eager to improve their results at the beginning so that they do not suffer from the spectre of the threat of being relegated to Serie B next season.
The match ended in a disappointing draw for Juventus, yet another disappointment this season under Pirlo. For Benevento, this draw was a valuable point for them from the defending champions, to continue their long league campaign.
This tactical analysis breaks down the tactics of the match between Benevento and Juventus. With the use of match footage and data, this analysis unpacks what happened in Benevento’s 1-1 draw with Juventus.
Benevento started the match with a 4-3-2-1 formation, Lorenzo Montipò was the goalkeeper, and the back four line defenders were Gaetano Letizia, Kamil Glik, Luka Caldirola, and Federico Barba. The midfield trio were Pasquale Schiattarella, Përparim Hetemaj, and Riccardo Improta, with Gianluca Caprari and Artur Ioniță just in front of them and the attack was led by Gianluca Lapadula.
On the other side, Juventus started the game with a classic 4-4-2 formation. Wojciech Szczęsny was the goalkeeper; Juan Cuadrado played as a right-back while Gianluca Frabotta was the left-back. Matthijs De Ligt and Danilo played in the centre of defence; Arthur and Adrien Rabiot as a double pivot; Federico Chiesa was the right-winger whereas Aaron Ramsey played on the left, and the attacking duo up front was composed of Paulo Dybala and Álvaro Morata.
Benevento’s pressing and their defensive issues
Benevento’s players were organised in their pressure as they did not leave spaces for the Juventus players to build-up because they realised their danger after the completion of the process of building-up and the direct attacking transition.
They were pressing from the middle third and were spread well in the available areas that Juventus players move in while building up.
Below we can see that where the Benevento players spread well in the middle third and when the ball was passed to Morata, they pressed him and he actually passed it back and the Benevento players were able to recover the ball in the offensive areas.
But as usual, they suffered from mistakes in the defensive phase, as there were gaps between the defender and the full-back, resulting from the forward movement of the full-back without coverage from the midfielders; these were exploited by the opponents’ players to pass in the back of their full-back and constituted a great danger to their goal.
Here is an example of this situation, where Chiesa passed the ball in the space behind their right-back in a dangerous area on their own goal, but the Juventus players did not exploit it well.
Juventus’s build-up and transitions
In the build-up, Juventus players created a rhombus structure so that they can play more laterally during build-up and easily pass horizontal balls to the full-back to move the ball to the attacking phase. Here is the Pirlo’s rhombus structure in the build-up.
This process goes smoothly as one of the midfield players, Arthur or Rabiot, dropped to their half to form a rhombus with both the centre-backs and the full-back. They pass the ball between them until the ball is delivered to the full-back, who begins to move the ball forward.
The full-back moves the ball to half-space while one of the strikers moves to receive the ball to attract the opponents’ defenders, and the other enters the depth that has become empty.
Here is an example of this situation, De Ligt passed the ball towards Cuadrado on the right side, and then Cuadrado passed the ball vertically in the half-space towards Morata, who moved to receive the ball while Dybala entered the depth alone. The ball passed to Dybala in a dangerous area but he shot it outside the goal.
Juventus players relied in offensive transitions on switching play on both sides of the field. This method gave Juventus players large spaces to impose their offensive style, but they were not in their day as they did not use it well.
Here, for example, the Juventus players collected the play on the right, then Rabiot passed the ball on the other side away from the pressing structures towards Bernardeschi, who came on as a substitute in the second half, but he also did not use it well and the attack ended without forming a dangerous chance.
Juventus’s attacking phase
The problem facing all big teams now is the deep block. Every coach faces difficulty in overcoming it. Pirlo tries every match to find a way to overcome this issue, but so far Pirlo has not settled on a specific method for his attack, especially in the absence of the Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo, the former Real Madrid player, who can be a solution inside the box.
Pirlo’s offensive style in this match was based on the positional rotation of his players in the final third, for two main reasons: to confuse the opponent’s players in observing his players, and to give more freedom to his players to move without a ball.
Below we can see that Dybala completed the offensive triangle with Ramsey and Morata around the box, and overloaded the left half-space with two players, Rabiot and Chiesa, whichever one of them was pressure-free when the ball was towards them.
The Juventus players also overloaded the box with the largest possible number of players to confuse the defenders inside the box and create an opportunity to pass in more dangerous areas on the Benevento goal.
Here is an example of this, where we see four Juventus players inside the box while Chiesa was alone in the box without pressure, but he did not make good use of it well in scoring a goal.
It was another disappointment for Juventus in their push to preserving the title, which has become more difficult than ever to compete for, with the continuation of the distinguished performances by Milan and Inter.
Juventus fell to fifth place with only 17 points from 9 matches, while Benevento remained in 12th place with only 10 points.
The Juventus players had many opportunities, but they stood idly against their good use, playing with attacking diversity to overcome the low block that was tightly implemented by the Benevento players who were able to capture a valuable point in the search for survival in the Serie A.