Juventus 1-2 Roma: Ferrara’s right-sided switch costs him the game – and perhaps his job
It’s a game of two halves, they say – the first one here was so bad you may as well not have bothered. Two similar shapes cancelling each other out, with an incredible lack of width from both sides. Roma started with Luca Toni upfront as a target man, but he was injured and went off after five minutes – with a half-fit Francesco Totti replacing him. Vucinic, therefore, became the focal point of the attack drifting to the left, and Totti playing as a trequartista. Given such an early reorganisation of the side, we can forgive Roma for their slightly purposeless first half.
Juventus, however, were equally as toothless, and their shocking lack of width in attacking areas was obvious all too often. Juve’s problem is that, in Amauri, they have a striker who absolutely thrives on crosses. If they have no-one looking to get to the byline and centre the ball, Amauri ends up simply holding the ball up, and praying for runners that all too often failed to arrive. The diamond in midfield simply doesn’t suit Amauri’s game. Their second problem was the gap between the midfield and their forwards. Diego is perhaps not a classic trequartista like Totti – he likes to drop deep into the centre of midfield, and often retreats towards his own goal when in possession. The effect of this is that the next ball becomes so difficult – especially if he plays it to one of the carrileros, the two who generally make forward runs when off the ball. The result is either a long, basic ball to Amauri, or a difficult ball to del Piero, who found it difficult to get any space on such a narrow active field of play.
The key battle was essentially in Juventus’ right-back area, as Vucinic looked to drop into that space (as he would have done even more so had Toni remained on the pitch) in his typical manner, in vaguely the same way Thierry Henry did at Arsenal. The effect of this was that Grygera struggled to get forward, because he was too concerned with Vucinic remaining free.
Ferrara decided that he needed more attacking drive from his right-back, and so replaced Grygera with Candreva (a midfielder) and moved Salihamidzic back into the right-back slot. This meant that, although Salihamidzic was more comfortable on the ball, Vucinic was suddenly up against a much weaker player defensively.
The winning goal came from a knock-on result of this change. Pizarro’s right-to-left ball found the head of John Arne Riise, who had come forward from left-back and was completely unmarked. Vucinic had drifted to the centre, Salihamdzic had followed, and Candreva, not a naturally defensive-minded player, had failed to pick up Riise.
If Ferrara hadn’t have made that switch, Riise would have been making his run against Salihamidzic, and would surely have been marked a lot more tightly. Therefore, it’s fair to say that Ferrara’s attempt to make his right-back more of an attacking threat ended up costing the game (although he did make that change when it was 11 v 11). It might be the last tactical decision he makes as Juve boss.
- Both Juve and Roma struggle to provide attacking width. Packing the centre of midfield is a good way to stop them both.
- If you’re up against a forward who likes to drop into the full-back position, you must occupy that space with a defensive-minded player, or at least have mobile centre-backs willing to follow him