Could Antonio Conte Discard the 3-5-2 Formation with Juventus Next Season?
Juventus have enjoyed two years of stunning success in Serie A, securing back-to-back scudetti to confirm the return of the Bianconeri as the dominant force in Italian football.
The Old Lady's manager, Antonio Conte, has expertly utilised a 3-5-2 formation—for the most part—during this period of success, but with the team's priority now being the Champions League, could Juve be prepared to ditch their trusted formation?
The club's most prominent signings this summer—Carlos Tevez, Fernando Llorente and Angelo Ogbonna—are all players that would be able to fit into a 3-5-2 formation, or an alternative with a back four in defence.
This would be the option that Conte is contemplating right now, whether a back four is the way forward, since it is so rare to see champions in Europe field three centre-backs in recent years.
The added positions that Conte would not be familiar with selecting would be at least at right-back and left-back.
Stephan Lichtsteiner is a natural full-back who would be able to shift back to fill this position, but the opposite flank will be decisive in whether Conte pushes ahead with a change of formation.
Squad players such as Paolo De Ceglie and Federico Peluso might consider left-back to be their most natural position, while Angelo Ogbonna has played there occasionally too, although the former Torino centre-back would be playing out of position.
Without an outstanding player who is naturally a left-back, the change of formation could come down to whether the club can sign a left-back.
The next thing to contemplate for Conte would be whether to use a narrow midfield or promote wide play with wingers.
With such depth in the midfield, a diamond formation might give the opportunity to hand Paul Pogba regular action.
If a 4-3-3 was used, Juve could legitimately fill the left-wing spot with Mirko Vucinic or Sebastian Giovinco, or even Carlos Tevez if Fernando Llorente was the lone-striker, or even a more defensive option such as Kwadwo Asamoah.
The right-wing role would be more problematic though, with Simone Pepe a natural fit. But whether he possesses the quality to justify the change in formation is yet to be known considering the former Azzurri international's record of injuries.
Mauricio Isla has played in advanced roles on the right flank too, but the Chilean might not be able to add enough cutting edge in the final third to merit a start in this position.
Without any speculation of Juventus pushing for a new right-winger or right-sided forward, perhaps Conte is willing to give the 3-5-2 another chance in Europe.
But with two positions that could be considered glaring weaknesses if Conte were to use a 4-3-3 formation, the Bianconeri might find themselves in a situation where they need to change things up and the personnel is not there.
The next few weeks will be telling as to whether Conte is willing to add more versatility to his squad to go with the new-found depth that has been ensured with the new signings and lack of significant sales.
If Juve can add a player or two to ensure they have the option of altering their formation and maintaining their strength that they possess in the 3-5-2, the Champions League might become a realistic objective.
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