Cesena vs. Juventus: What Massimiliano Allegri Learned in Preseason Friendly
Having lost his first official outing as Juventus coach, Massimiliano Allegri led his new side out for the second time on Wednesday evening. It was a very different Bianconeri line-up that took to the field at Cesena’s stadium, and the coach will hopefully garner some much-needed information from it.
The newly promoted side would provide a much stiffer test than Lucerno did last week, despite the amateur club eventually running out 3-2 winners. Cesena have much to prove in Serie A this coming season and are clearly a much better team than Allegri’s first opponents.
Juventus were boosted by a number of their World Cup stars returning, although this encounter came too early for Gigi Buffon and Arturo Vidal. The latter is still suffering from a knee injury, while Carlos Tevez was also granted permission to miss the match, according to Juventus.com.
The club’s official website noted that although his kidnapped father had been freed, the striker would remain in Turin rather than travel to Argentina. The 30-year-old striker had been granted permission to return home but instead returned to training on Wednesday morning as he continues to work toward peak condition.
Despite the absence of last season’s leading scorer, there were numerous positives for Allegri to take from the match, the most significant of which are discussed on the following pages.
The Back 3 Remain Effective
After experimenting with a back four last week, Allegri reverted to a three-man defence against Cesena and was rewarded with his first clean sheet. It was a vast improvement on the three goals conceded against Lucerno and proved how valuable the 3-5-2 formation can be.
That framework was central to the success enjoyed under Antonio Conte, and his successor appears to have quickly understood its importance. Speaking to reporters after the game, the new coach said (h/t Juventus.com):
It was unthinkable to go with a different tactical approach after only three days with the team, I only applied certain tweaks which the lads took on board. If we play well in a back four then we’ll go with that, if not we’ll stay as a three. But it’s the performance that counts at the end of the day.
Carlos Tevez Is Vitally Important
Given time off to attend to his family issues, Carlos Tevez's importance to this Juventus side was highlighted by his absence. Shorn of their leading scorer, the Bianconeri lacked the cutting edge to break down a determined Cesena and create notable opportunities.
Stats site WhoScored.com shows the Argentinean leads the team in goals, while only Stephan Lichtsteiner (8) bettered his tally of seven assists.
Andrea Pirlo Continues to Be Central to Everything
After admitting he left Milan because of Allegri (h/t Football Italia), many wondered how Andrea Pirlo would gel with the new Juventus coach. Those fears were allayed somewhat here, as the midfielder was played in his central role and shone as brightly as anyone in the famous black and white stripes.
The 35-year-old playmaker had Juve's only real chance during the 0-0 stalemate, drawing an excellent save from Nicola Leali just a few minutes after kick-off.