Allegri and Juventus Show How Tactical Substitution Can Switch Momentum Immediately

Allegri and Juventus Show How Tactical Substitution Can Switch Momentum Immediately

Juventus’ shocking defeat of Tottenham in the return leg of their Champions League tie was in some ways against the run of form. While both sides could claim momentum or that calls went against them that would have affected the final score, the truth is Spurs placed more pressure and at least for the first half tactically out-played the visitors. However, two changes in the second half – within a minute of each other – drastically tilted the match toward the Italians side. The changes actually were the type that Peter Stoeger – the man who should be managing Dortmund – could use at BVB if he needed to drastically shift momentum in a match.

Juve started out in a 4-3-3 with Alex Sandro as the left wingback and Andrea Barzagli on the right. Former Bayern man Medhi Benatia paired with stalwart Giorgio Chiellini. Up top, Gonzalo Higuain was partnered with Paulo Dybala and Douglas Costa as the attack trio.

This formation had an immediate weakness that Spurs could exploit. Heung-Min Son ran rampant on the right against the older (and slower) Barzagli, with surprisingly only one goal scored in the first half. His frequent runs into the box disrupted the entire back line and it was due only to the experience of the side (or luck?) that Juve only allowed a goal in the first half. On the other side of the pitch, Costa and Dybala had some good runs, but the interplay between the three up top could not find the passes from Pjanic in the midfield.

With yellow cards accumulating and time to grab two goals running out, Allegri kept his shape but made some important shifts. First, he brought on Kwadwo Asamoah for Blaise Matuidi; the Ghanaian usually slots in on the left side but instead took up in the midfield. The key reason for this substitution is due to this stat – Asamoah has averaged two tackles and 1.1 interceptions per match this season. His presence in the midfield with Khedira allowed Pjanic to roam further forward and link the three forwards together.

The next substitution was to bring on Stephan Lichsteiner for yellow carded Benatia. Lichsteiner went wide right and pushed Barzagli towards the middle, which also gave Juve a faster winger to range forward while stiffening the middle of defense. The impact was immediate as the Swiss defender assisted on the second goal.

What is the lesson for Peter Stoeger? Sometimes a side needing to change momentum does not require a formation change, but placing players with certain skills into the existing structure can provide the spark needed. This is not the same as what Peter Bosz would do, which is often replace like for like players. While Juventus has a very different set of players than BVB, they accomplished in two matches what Dortmund could not against Spurs.