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Juventus: is 4-3-3 the way to win in Europe?
Osvaldo’s late arrival could allow Conte to rearrange Juve’s formation to a 4-3-3. Could this put an end to the Bianconeri’s struggles in Champions League?
by Niccolò Misul
Undoubtedly, since his arrival at Juve, Antonio Conte has proved himself to be a quick learner and a tactical mastermind. Step by step, he has analyzed and overcome almost all the difficulties that his team seemed to be facing.

At first the Old Lady was struggling to score, to exploit spaces down the wings and overwhelm the opponent. The coach shaped them into a side capable of turning every single member of the team into a goalscoarer, through timely runs upfront created by the forwards, who perhaps lacked unrivalled skill but could be taught to work for the team.

But, as we all know, Serie A is a league where tactics come before anything else, and it did not take long for other teams to figure out Conte’s plan and starting pressing his players, not allowing Juve to play the ball out from the attack.

Helped by Giuseppe Marotta’s and Fabio Paratici’s transfer ability, the coach was able to add to his arsenal a new weapon, Fernando Llorente. With technical and physical features unlike any other player on the roster, the Spaniard offered a B plan, the chance to benefit from the “ram” that the team had been looking for since Trezeguet’s departure.

Now the problem is the 3-5-2. This formation has been outstanding in the last three years, bringing the Bianconeri’s game to a quality that had rarely been seen in recent years in the Serie A.

Thanks to its high pace and mobility, combined with the skills of the players, Juve have been able to crush all the opponents, re-establishing the supremacy lost after Calciopoli, and winning two (almost three) titles in a row.

However in Europe things have been different. Faster and more intelligent defences have made it hard for the Turin's side to impose their attacking game, resulting in a defensive vulnerability that the three center-backs rarely had experienced in league games.

And maybe this could be the answer to the question that many people asked themselves a few weeks ago: why did Marotta, despite failing to find a new team for Vucinic and Quagliarella, decide to add Osvaldo to the already large number of strikers in the team (precisely six)?

The Italian international, that rumors in the past had already suggested to be close to join the Turin side, is talented but his profile does not fit that of a Bianconero. The former Roma player has often had behavioral issues in the past.

The dressing room scuffle with Jose Fonte that got him suspended for two weeks at Southampton was only the latest episode of his troubled career. Just a few days before he got himself a three games ban for reacting angrily to a tackle after being substituted, while last year, when still at Roma, he reportedly punched ex-teammate Erik Lamela for not passing him the ball.

Instead of seeing his quotations decrease, Osvaldo was offered the magnificent occasion of joining the Italian giants, one of Europe’s finest clubs.

The man behind this strategy is likely to be one: Antonio Conte. This player notably increases the number of options upfront, being able to cover different attacking position and skillful enough not only to score goals but also to help his teammates to do the same.

This would allow Conte to have the right interpreters for the 4-3-3 already seen this season against Real Madrid with encouraging results.

As an alternative, the Bianconeri could also play with a 4-3-1-2, with Llorente and Osvaldo upfront and Tevez to operate behind, maintaining an offensive approach to the game while offering the better defensive stability needed in Europe.

Osvaldo could be Conte’s ace in the hole for the remainder of the season, but also for the development of his “perfect machine”. Not only an added bonus but a possible pawn for a tactical revolution, which next season could facilitate the return of players such as Berardi or Gabbiadini, currently on loan to gain experience.

And if the former Southampton striker was to really get used to this style of play, ahead of the World Cup, Italy’s coach Cesare Prandelli would only appreciate.

Thursday, February 20 th, 2014
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