Juventus face off with Bayern Munich in the pick of the Champions League quarter-final ties this week, but I feel that the Bianconeri would much rather have drawn Barcelona at this stage.
You see, Bayern match up excellently against this Juve side and have the antidote to pose problems for the Old Lady's formidable midfield.
Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal form the best midfield trio in European football, making up a flat line of three central midfielders in Antonio Conte's 3-5-2—although it has been thought that Conte could drop one of his strikers and squeeze in an extra midfielder, pushing Claudio Marchisio forward to operate in between the lines in a 3-5-1-1.
Nonetheless, Juve would substitute Marchisio in the midfield trio for Paul Pogba, who would replace the Azzurri star just enough that the dynamic of this tie would not be altered.
The key to the tie could be how Bayern utilise Thomas Muller, who is capable of dropping into the pocket of space between Mario Mandzukic and the two more advanced centre-midfielders for Juventus—probably Vidal and Marchisio—in order to hassle and harry Pirlo.
Bayern would pose a greater threat in transition when dispossessing the Bianconeri than Barcelona would do, potentially exposing Juve's greatest weakness.
With Kwadwo Asamoah and Stephan Lichtsteiner positioned in advanced areas on or beyond the half-way line, Mueller would be able to win possession and potentially have at least three teammates assisting him on this break, who would face up against just three Bianconeri players.
The trio of centre-backs for Juve would then be completely outnumbered, leaving Bayern to work the ball and expose the wild spaces or the subsequent one-on-one battle with Mandzukic and Leonardo Bonucci, should Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini be forced to push out wide in order to counter the threat of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben.
Barcelona's method of winning a tie against the Bianconeri would fall right into their hands, namely through their possession-based tiki-taka philosophy.
We have seen Milan this season and Chelsea last year completely nullify the Blaugrana with two deep lines to make up their defence and midfield, closing the central spaces and forcing Xavi and Sergio Busquets to distribute to the wings—an outcome that Juve would gladly welcome.
With three centre-backs, three centre-midfielders and two potential full-backs if Lichtsteiner and Asamoah drop deep, Barcelona would really struggle to break through, meaning Juve would be confident in restricting Barca to a goal or two over 180 minutes.
With their physical prowess and expert delivery at set pieces, as well as two of the best box-to-box midfielders in Europe in Vidal and Marchisio, Juve could certainly pose an equivalent attacking threat to Barcelona, but better nullify theirs with their watertight defence.
Bayern can not only match Juve's defensive solidarity, conceding just 13 times in 27 league matches this season, but they present a potential mismatch between their attack and Juve's defence when on the counterattack.
So Juve drew the toughest matchup possible in the Champions League, but with ambitions of winning the competition, a stern test against Bayern will prove whether the Old Lady can rule in Europe again or not.
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