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50-50 Challenge: AC Milan vs. Juventus

Preview 7 hours ago
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Round of 16

#UltimateUCL Sep 10, 2014
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 Posted by Mina Rzouki
Sep 3, 2014

Focus on youth is key for Massimiliano Allegri at Juventus

Kingsley Coman has been given a chance, and more new players will be at Juventus this season.

While certain sides are boasting about their summer market acquisitions, Juventus are proud they've managed to hold onto some of their top players. They should be, as many were worried the likes of Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba would be sold for the sake of improving the overall depth of the squad.

Instead Massimiliano Allegri has all his key men, while offering his side tactical flexibility and adding some depth too. Flexibility is the buzzword surrounding Allegri at present with many journalists and experts opining that his Juve team will be somewhat less predictable than Antonio Conte's.

Various tactical schemes have been introduced and the new coach is keen to make his side one that can adapt to the challenge at hand, as opposed to playing a single style that could effectively be thwarted. Conte perhaps never had the players to change shapes and ideas but the club have brought in players they hope can offer Allegri a greater chance of challenging in Europe.

Take Kingsley Coman as an example: he's a mobile forward who likes the ball in to his feet and is comfortable with geometric passes sent his way, while Fernando Llorente offers the physique and strength to cope with aerial dues and accurate crosses. Meanwhile the full range of skills the likes of Pogba can offer will be exploited so he can display his strengths in the best way possible. Playing further up front, he can offer more to the team's attacking play.

However, unlike other coaches who arrive at a club eager to implement new ideas, Allegri is doing the intelligent thing: acknowledging how well the team did before him, playing that style of football and slowly altering and tweaking to imprint his own philosophy on the game.

Starting against Chievo Verona with a three-man back line, Allegri determined that it's best not to change too quickly, especially when some of the squad had suffered from the flu and were not in optimum condition.

For Gazzetta dello Sport, one of the main reasons Juventus were keen to bring in Allegri was due to his work with youth and how devoted he is to their development. Under him at Cagliari, Radja Nainggolan was given the opportunity to thrive, while both Davide Astori and Lorenzo Ariaudo were given their debuts. At Milan, Bryan Cristante was offered the chance to star for the first team, while Mattia De Sciglio and Stephan El Shaarawy were developed even if many thought the latter's skills were not fully exploited.

Now at Juve, in their first competitive match of the season, Coman was entrusted to help lead the line, and he immediately repaid the coach's faith in him, demonstrating tactical intelligence to earn the man of the match award. The former PSG youngster is now the player at the forefront of everyone's mind, and one who is expected to explode in much the same way Conte managed with Pogba. One hopes it won't be long before the likes of Mattia Vitale will be allowed to play for the first team too, allowing the club to reap the rewards of a youth system that has been so heavily invested in.

Juventus have already submitted their squad list for the Champions League and Allegri has inserted the name of another youth player: Federico Mattiello. An intelligent youngster with great physique and the flexibility to play in most positions in the attacking lineup, he demonstrates a great appreciation of space. Mattiello knows how to make timely runs forward, while his defensive contributions are vital to any side. Recently thought to be on his way to Catania due to the perceived lack of space for him at Juve, he is now the only youth player Allegri has chosen to take with him to Europe -- signaling his belief in the player's skills.

Considering the financial situation at the club, it's imperative that more space and time is given to youth to aid their progression. Juventus have spent more than most, but not recouped enough, and thus other avenues for revenue must be explored -- starting with developing their own youngsters as opposed to scouting them from abroad.

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