Massimiliano Allegri set his team up with his usual 4-3-3 formation with Cristiano Ronaldo and Federico Bernardeschi playing on the flanks. The latter coming in for Argentine Paulo Dybala. Emre Can, Joao Cancelo and Leonardo Spinazzola came in for Rodrigo Bentancur, Mattia De Sciglio and suspended Alex Sandro. Emre Can look to have been starting on the right side of the midfield three but Allegri quickly changed to a back three with Can on the right side of the defense, creating a formation of 3-5-2 – the approach from the Italian side could not be clearer. Ronaldo and Bernardeschi became inside forwards; full backs Cancelo and Spinazzola held the wings providing some important width.
Diego Simeone put up a classic 4-4-2 formation with striker Alvaro Morata making a first start in the Champions League this season. Throughout the course of the game, Simeone looked to keep the same shape regardless of the changes his opposition were making. Veteran right-back Juanfran was put on the left due to the injuries of Filipe Luis and World Cup winner Lucas Hernandez. The downside to Simeone’s tactics was that there was no attacking threat at all as his side failed to have a shot on target across the full 90.
Straight from the kickoff, it was Ronaldo who wanted to make the difference by trying to pull out Atletico full-back Arias in a 1v1 situation, in order to create spaces for Blaise Matuidi’s run. However, as the game progressed Ronaldo started to take more central positions creating many problems for Atletico’s defense. Ronaldo and Bernardeschi played in between the centre back and full-back causing the defense to become narrow. The half-spaces were covered by the full-backs although this opened up the wide spaces for Cancelo and Spinazzola to attack into and put in crosses. The strong aerial threat Juventus possessed with Mario Mandzukic and Ronaldo provided a tricky battle for the Uruguayan pair consisting of Diego Godin and Jose Maria Gimenez.
Diego Simeone should come in for some criticism for not being proactive in this situation, where he could have told one of his midfielders to cover the wide areas that were being highly exploited. His arrogance proved to be costly with two goals being scored from crosses by Cristiano Ronaldo at the back post. Juventus on average play 16 crosses per game though on this occasion, they put in 38 crosses from wide areas!
Atletico’s weak link?
Allegri’s men looked to isolate the Colombian Arias by dominating the left flank. Ronaldo was the key man on and off the ball as he looked to pull him out of his defensive line, pass the ball to Matuidi and then let the full-back get in behind.
Dybala’s introduction for Spinazzola caused a formation change from a back three to a back four with Emre Can filling in at right back and Cancelo going to the left. The term “All out attack” was very much in use by the 80th minute with Allegri using a 4-2-4 formation. That change ended up being a superb decision as “The Old Lady” won a penalty late on, which was converted by Ronaldo to give him his eighth Champions League hat-trick and make history for Juventus by making this their biggest come back in Europe!