Andrea Pirlo’s Juventus: quick tactical analysis – Serie A

This Sunday, Inter faces Juventus in a match that promises to be capital for the fight against the Scudetto. This article presents a quick tactical analysis of Juve de Pirlo based on their matches against Samp and Louve.

Phase offensive: construction

The construction sub-phase of its offensive phase is the most structured and complex part of the possession game. Pirlo wants his team to play from behind and during the preparation phase he emphasizes that a “clean exit is essential”.

He will change his building mechanics based on an opponent’s analysis, to ensure his team can play from behind as efficiently as possible. When building, there are 3 options for players: “Lead”, “Filter”, “Increase available time and space”.

Pirlo wants to overcome the pressure of the opponent by using verticality to find the third man who Xavi says is “impossible to defend”. He does this by using a diamond structure to progress. The player at the base of the diamond is the ball carrier, he has options on either side, as well as a vertical option.

This “vertex” will appear to be positioned between the lines, and the main priority will be to find this “vertex” by vertical play and the movements of the third man. Below we can see a diagram representing the diamond structure that Pirlo wants to implement.

The base of the rhombus can, of course, be the keeper, which Pirlo wants to use in preparation, especially against high pressure. We can see an example of a Pirlo diamond progression in the image below against Claudio Ranieri’s Sampdoria.


Below we can see another example against Paulo Fonseca’s Roma.


In the first phase of construction, Pirlo wants to have exactly one player advantage. Having an additional player has the obvious benefit of providing a power play to provide the clean progression Pirlo wants. However, he doesn’t want more than one player so as not to “waste” additional players, as he wants them to occupy more advanced areas.

The main priority when building is to play in the central areas. This makes pressing the opponent more complicated and there are more options when the ball is in the center, making center construction more painful for the opponent. Indeed, on the wings for example, the ball is sent towards the center, while in the center, the ball can be played in any direction.

Pirlo emphasizes that he doesn’t want his team to abuse vertical play. Rather, he wants to use rotations and exchanges to disorganize the opponent in order to create openings for vertical progression. Pirlo’s offensive organization occurs at two speeds. When the ball is “behind”, play is slow and methodical. When a free player receives it between the lines, play becomes much faster and more direct towards the opposing goal.

When the ball carrier is in space, Pirlo wants the other players to attack from deep, while the ball carrier is dribbling. If the diamond structure is properly formed, the top will prepare for a 1-2.


If the ball carrier is under pressure, the other players return to support him. Pirlo wants his players to maintain structure in possession, which ensures that the ball’s progress is as clean as possible while providing favorable back-pressing structures during the defensive transition.

If a player who does not have possession of the ball is free, he must constantly seek to receive it between the lines. Pirlo wants his team looking for diagonal passes and always looking to find that infamous third man.

Offensive phase, Development principle 1: width

Pirlo wants only one player to be on each wing, occupying the widest possible position. He only wants one player on each wing in order to position the other players in the center. This forces the opposing rear to make a choice. Stay wide and leave space in the center, or in the half-space, or move to the center and leave the player wide with time and space.

If the ball is on one side, the opposing wide player needs to stay tall and wide in order to keep a switch option available, which Pirlo wants his team to use often. “We are drifting to the right to attack on the left.” We can see an example of this extreme width on both sides in the image below.


Offensive phase, Development principle 2: find players in the finishing zone

Pirlo defines the “finishing zone” as a moving zone which lies between the opponent’s defensive and middle lines. Finding players in this space is the main objective of the offensive phase. Players positioned in the finishing zone must constantly seek to escape their opponent’s cover and receive into space. At least two players must be constantly positioned in this area, the others often joining. If the ball carrier is in space and facing the goal, at least two players must immediately attack from deep.


Offensive phase, Development principle 3: attack constantly in depth

What Pirlo means when he refers to “attacking deep” is racing behind. This is frequently mentioned in his thesis and appears to be Pirlo’s primary method of random creation. The opponent’s defensive line must be under constant pressure.

We can see that the recruitment and selection of Pirlo players is suitable for this. Players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Dejan Kulusevski, Álvaro Morata and Aaron Ramsey can be expected to thrive in this offensive system.

Pirlo cites three reasons for his insistence on constant in-depth attacks:

  1. Forcing the opponent’s defensive line deeper – either by pushing the midfield line back, giving players more time, or by increasing the size of the finishing area if the midfield line does not descend further deeply.
  2. Keep opposing defenders constantly, mentally engaged.
  3. Create scoring opportunities. “Attack space, get the ball… score!”

Pirlo will either play with one or two center forwards. If he’s playing with two, they make opposite movements, one going down deeper, while the other attacks deep. If he is playing with only one – and the player is in the finishing zone – the attacker in the width of the weak side will attack in depth.


Offensive phase: Attacking the defensive line

Another key principle of Pirlo’s offensive play is the occupation of the five vertical zones (the two wings, the half-spaces and the center), so the front line must be made up of at least five players, with potentially more junction. .


To facilitate this, Pirlo wants his team to attack in 2-3-5 or 3-2-5. In his first two games, he used the 3-2-5. The 3-2-5 allows the team to have a 3-2 structure allowing them to create the diagonal passing angles desired by Pirlo, while also ensuring solidity in the defensive transition. In the image below we can see this 3-2 against Sampdoria.


Even when they lined up four backs on the scoresheet against Roma, Danilo at right-back moved into full-back three while Juan Cuadrado at left-back pushed higher to become the player. high and wide on the left.


Defensive phase

The defensive phase presents no particularities. Juve do a high pressing and come back, in general, with a 4-4-2 in order to limit spaces. That said, once cornered in its surface, the positioning of the players deserves attention.

In this case Pirlo wants to create 2-on-1 type defensive overloads, with one player providing cover, while the other presses the ball carrier.

When defending wide areas, Pirlo raises the possibility of a central midfielder falling into the defensive line in order to give wide defenders better access to the wings without creating weaknesses. Pirlo has divided the penalty area into six areas, as shown in the diagram below.


Pirlo wants each defender to occupy an area depending on the position of the ball. For example, when the ball is on the right side of the defending side, the center side of the closest side will move into zone 1, while the side farthest from the center will occupy zone 2. The opposite back side will cover the zone. 3.

If his team does not have enough players in the box, a central midfielder will descend into zone 5, while the wide player on the other side will occupy zone 5, with orientations towards zone 6, depending on the context.

The example Pirlo gave is clearly suited to training with four defenders, but we can see a very similar defensive structure in the example shown below, where Juventus defends the ball to their left.


Danilo plays the role of full-back (FSFB), occupying zone 2. Leonardo Bonucci is center-back (NSCB), occupying zone 3. Adrien Rabiot as central midfielder (CM) fell in zone 6, while Cuadrado acts as the far-side winger (FSW) and occupies zone 5. Gianluca Frabotta plays the full-back role (NSFB) and meets the opponent on the outside.


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