Following their heavy defeat against Atletico Madrid, Juventus travelled to Bologna in hopes of sparking a reaction; a turnaround of sorts. However, nothing of the sort would take place at the Renato Dall’Ara as the bianconeri, much like it has been the case all season, would eek out a narrow victory, somewhat undeservedly maintaining their historic pace. In fact, Allegri’s side are the first team in Italian history to win 22 of their first 25 league games, and yet, Juventus still look a side devoid of any ideas in the final third.
For the first fifteen minutes, the hosts were by far the better side and were unlucky not to find the back of the net on a couple occasions. A midfield trio of Poli, Pulgar and Soriano had quietly dominated the proceedings for the better portion of the first half. After watching his conventional 4-3-3 crumble against Atletico, Allegri implemented a few notable changes in his setup on Sunday. Federico Bernardeschi started the game as a mezz’ala whereas Joao Cancelo was deployed on the right wing.
While these changes are a step in the right direction, Allegri is yet to find a place for his most creative forward Paulo Dybala. When Dybala is in form, so are Juve. Until now, Dybala’s been an awkward fit alongside Ronaldo and Mandzukic, and has yet to reach his former heights in Allegri’s current setup. Against Bologna, the former Palermo man started from the bench and inevitably came on with just over thirty minutes to play.
It would only take La Joya eight minutes before firing Juventus ahead, and securing the three points. With the win, Juventus maintained their lead at the top over Napoli, yet, in reality, all Dybala’s winner did was add further paper over the cracks in Turin. If the Italian giants want to overcome Atletico Madrid and score three goals in the return leg, they will need to do so with Dybala firing on all cylinders. Whether it means Mandzukic starting on the bench or not remains to be seen, however, one thing’s for certain: On March 12, Allegri needs to get it right.
With Bernardeschi starting to pick up form again and Douglas Costa returning from injury shortly, Allegri could field a highly-offensive and mobile 4-4-2 with Dybala and Ronaldo up top. Rather than experimenting with Cancelo on the wing, the Milan tactician should allow the fullback to play in his natural position, where he gets forward to devastating effect. Unlike in Serie A, Allegri can’t get away with overpowering his opposition in Europe and must demonstrate character with his starting eleven.