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50-50 Challenge: AC Milan vs. Juventus

Preview Sep 19, 2014
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Round of 16

#UltimateUCL Sep 10, 2014
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 Posted by Mina Rzouki
Jul 30, 2014

Juve's Allegri era begins with a draw

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri says that Arturo Vidal is fundamental to his plans for the new season.

The time to see Massimiliano Allegri's Juventus in action had finally arrived as the Bianconeri drew 0-0 with the newly promoted Cesena in a preseason friendly on Wednesday.

If there were fears the Old Lady had lost her appeal after the departure of former manager Antonio Conte, think again. 18,000 spectators took their seats to watch the match with many of them Juventus supporters eager to see whether their squad possessed the same enthusiasm that has led them to record-breaking success these last three years.

- Gladwell: Allegri insists Arturo Vidal stays
- Rzouki: Old Lady still searching for the stars

Did Juventus play with character? They certainly started that way.

The Bianconeri were deployed in their usual 3-5-2 shape, and Cesena looked to neutralise their opponents by mirroring that formation and playing with great organisation. Tight lines, closing down the spaces and happy to soak up the pressure before looking for that accurate long ball forward -- Cesena's style of play stifled a Juventus side that played largely like how Conte would have assembled them.

As usual, Juve looked to Andrea Pirlo to dictate the game, looking for the geometric and penetrative passes he so often provides. Next to him, onlookers were given the chance to observe newly bought Roberto Pereyra who boasted good energy and a great willingness to move and look for the gaps that he could exploit to good effect.

Pereyra's timely runs into the box look like they will stand him in good stead, but he still has much to learn from the champions around him.

Francesco Renzetti, left, and Stephan Lichtsteiner, right, in action during the match.

The problem for Juventus in this match was their inability to score.

While the Seahorses defended well, often relying on a five-man back-line, there was little courage going forward from Allegri's men.

The past seasons have spoilt the many fans who have enjoyed the success and the great intensity with which the Old Lady played yet they were always guilty of making the simple errors that often led to frustration.

Often forcing the issue, not looking for the right option and at times incapable of retaining the ball to have another chance to penetrate, Allegri's Juventus seem to be committing the same mistakes and it will take time to improve.

Within Serie A, opponents will often look to close down all the spaces but it's important to maintain possession in the final third and encourage mobility to provoke an error or shift the defence one way to attack down the other.

Hasty movements and desire to pass the ball to a certain man even if he is not the right option will only serve to frustrate a side that has had difficulty in scoring.

Yet while Allegri looks to iron out the kinks, the intensity and character that we so often find when observing the Old Lady wasn't there. How much can we expect from a side that has only just returned from holidays, started training with a new coach and is without their best players?

Massimiliano Allegri needs time to make his own imprint on this Juventus squad.

In essence, the game failed to provide hopefuls with many answers simply because the new tactician has had little time to introduce his own ideas.

Asked about potentially introducing a four-man back-line and Allegri replied with caution. Change at this very moment in time is 'unthinkable' according to the former Milan coach.

Slowly but surely, he will look to see where and what he can improve and if the side moves well with four at the back then so be it otherwise he is happy to stay playing a 'Conte' formation.

Mina Rzouki

A football writer, presenter and pundit for the Mirror, BBC 5live, BBC Sportsworld, BT Sports, CNN, ESPN and Football Espana. Focused on Italian football. You can follow her on Twitter @Minarzouki.