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Juventus 2-1 Dortmund: Juve bypass the midfield press for both goals

Betting Statistics | Article posted on February 25th, 2015

The starting line-ups

Juventus saw little of possession, but attacked clinically to take a one-goal lead into the second leg.
Juventus selection
Max Allegri named his expected side in a 4-4-2 diamond system.
Andrea Pirlo limped off midway through the first half, however, with Roberto Perreyra replacing him, and Claudio Marchisio dropping back into the deep midfield position.
Dortmund selection
Jurgen Klopp decided to pick Henrikh Mkhitaryan rather than Shinji Kagawa, which made sense when it became apparent he was tucking into a 4-3-3 system, rather than playing as the number ten in a 4-2-3-1, Dortmund’s more customary shape.
Right-back Lukasz Piszczek was another injury casualty, with Matthias Ginter replacing him and Soktatis Papastathopoulous moving right.
Match summary
Dortmund had plenty of possession but rarely created clear-cut chances, while Juve sat deep and counter-attacked quickly through their front two.

Dortmund press but don’t mark Pirlo
The match started at a very quick tempo, with Dortmund pressing intensely in midfield, and Juventus struggling to pass through this pressure in the opening stages. It took a while before the game settled down and the formation battle became obvious: 4-4-2 diamond against 4-3-3.
The most interesting thing was that Dortmund didn’t have anyone specifically tracking Pirlo. Instead, Ciro Immobile positioned himself to deny passes from the centre-backs into Pirlo’s feet, and then either Mkhitaryan or Ilkay Gundogan would rush forward to close him down when he did receive the ball. But it was still surprising he was allowed relative freedom, especially because he can become flustered when marked closely by a mobile player. Park Ji-Sung’s job on him for Manchester United against Milan in 2009/10 is particularly memorable.
Nevertheless, the pressing did have a decent impact and harmed Juventus when they tried to play through midfield. Often, it was balls into Marchisio and Pogba which caused problems, although the latter was good at receiving the ball on the half-turn and evading the pressure.

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Pirlo rarely conceded possession himself, although sometimes his passes into teammates were the trigger for Dortmund to press, and then they won the ball with only Pirlo guarding the centre-backs, and Marco Reus scampering quickly into his zone. It’s arguable Pirlo’s loss didn’t harm Juve too much, because they were more inclined to hit the ball long – more on that later.
Wide battle
Another significant part of the formation battle was out. Clearly, the diamond means Juventus were very narrow for long periods, and Klopp tried to exploit this weakness by pushing his full-backs high up the pitch. In turn, Nuri Sahin would drop deep into the backline and help turn the 4-3-3 into a 3-4-3, which theoretically provided an extra man at the back against Juve’s two strikers, although he usually played just ahead of them, presumably in an attempt to prevent the strikers

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