Juventus has run rampant through Serie A by employing a 3-5-2 formation that utilizes wing-backs. However, this formation has haunted the Italian giants in Europe as it failed to produce against Bayern Munich in last season’s quarterfinals. It was also underwhelming in this year’s group stage exit.
Coach Antonio Conte has experimented with using other formations, namely the 4-3-3 in this year’s group stage clashes with Real Madrid. Some think that Juve should switch to this permanently. While it would vastly improve an under-achieving Juve in Europe, that kind of change won’t happen overnight.
Here are Juve’s biggest hurdles in switching to a 4-3-3:
One of the biggest upsides of the 3-5-2 is that Conte doesn’t have to sacrifice any of his three world-class center backs, Giorgio Chiellini, Andre Barzagli or Leonardo Bonucci. A switch to the 4-3-3 means one of the three defenders will move to left back or move to the bench. Chiellini will likely be the left back. While it isn’t the former Fiorentina player’s strongest position, he’s simply too good to leave on the bench.
Another positional switch will come from Stephan Lichtsteiner who will trade in wing-back for right back, his natural position.
The team’s abandonment of wing-backs means Kwadwo Asamoah will move into a super-sub role from his place at left wing-back. While Lichtsteiner will move from wing-back to right back, the same can’t be said for Asamoah on the left. Chiellini will take prominence at left back, while the Ghana international may be better suited backing up each midfield position.
The central midfield will stay the same: some combination of Claudio Marchisio, Andrea Pirlo, Paul Pogba and Arturo Vidal will man the central “3” in the 4-3-3.
The changes continue up top. Carlos Tevez will be moving to the left due to Fernando Llorente not being able to play out wide at the level the Argentine can.
2. Finding a right winger
The right wing of the attacking trio will be the problem area for the team. In-house options Mirko Vucinic, Simone Pepe and Mauricio Isla can operate there, but the team could look to buy a more suitable option instead.
Nani, Alessio Cerci and Juan Cuadrado have all been mentioned as potential targets. None of the trio will be cheap, but if one of them is the missing link in terms of European success, you’d expect Juve not to balk at the price.
If one of those options is too rich for the Turin-based club’s blood, a potential sale of Paul Pogba or Arturo Vidal could fund the acquisition of a new winger.
A shift to a 4-3-3 means Juve must reevaluate their squad depth. As it stands, the team is built for their current formation, the 3-5-2. Most of the midfielders and strikers are predominantly not wide players.
The squad is already thin on wingers. So even after finding a new wide player, the team will need to find suitable depth if it doesn’t like its current options.
The defense will also need retooling in the depth department as the majority of Juve’s defenders are meant to play in the center of the back line. Angelo Ogbonna and Martin Caceres have the ability to play on the outside, but both are much better in the middle. Reinforcements will surely be needed to provide sufficient depth for Chiellini and Lichtsteiner.
On the flipside, central midfield may be the area least affected by the switch. Claudio Marchisio remains a world-class option as the first man off the bench, while Kwadwo Asamoah’s shift from wing-back provides even more quality depth.
Overall, the hurdles for Juve to switch to a 4-3-3 formation aren’t that daunting. Positional switches should be somewhat seamless. What won’t be seamless is finding a winger with the talent needed to compete at the highest level, as well as depth better suited to the new formation. But considering past transfer steals, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the defending champions find the right players.
Ben Rosener is a high school senior from the Seattle area who is the editor and founder of Kingdome of Seattle Sports and Know Hitter. In addition to those sites, he writes for FanSided’s Emerald City Swagger and contributes to Bleacher Report. Ben is in the process of starting a soccer-themed Youtube channel called Sports on Terms. You can follow his criminally under-followed Twitter account here. He is also a massive sports fan and is a keen supporter of Juventus and the Italian National team. He only refers to himself in the third person for bios.