The Serie A season is rapidly approaching, and we here at JuveFC are beginning our previews of the upcoming season. Here is part one, a tactical preview of what Max Allegri’s Juventus could look like.

There are many differences, great differences, between Max Allegri and Antonio Conte. In terms of personality, careers, reputation, and of course, tactics, the two men are rather diverse. Conte, as we know, favored one specific formation – and an overarching style of play more importantly – during his Juventus tenure. That’s the 3-5-2. As far as the style, Conte’s teams played like most top teams do now, constant pressing, keeping possession, and all members of the squad are expected to pitch in in all sectors of play. For example. Carlos Tevez is a striker, yet last season he was constantly tracking back and closing down opponents, or coming deep to serve as a reference point for both the midfield and whichever striker he was playing alongside.

Allegri, meanwhile, is noted for the 4-3-1-2 he’s frequently used. Indeed, he wrote his coaching thesis on the dynamic of the three man midfield. It’s important to note that Allegri’s thesis isn’t really revolutionary, it just goes over the three man midfield in very specific detail. Furthermore, Allegri already has the players needed for that three man midfield. A regista – Andrea Pirlo, though Marchisio has proven that he is a suitable vice-Pirlo – and then, in very basic terms, two box to box midfielders. However, one is more focused on defensive duties, whereas the other is more focused on getting forward and linking the midfield to the attack. Sound familiar? It’s because that’s how Conte’s midfields worked. Pirlo’s the regista, Vidal is the bulldog – although he is so skilled that he’s also a great threat in attack – and Pogba/Marchisio were tasked with a little bit of both. However, the roles of the two non-regista midfielders were very fluid and changed per each run of play.

Also, it’s worth noting that Arturo Vidal could leave Juventus before the season starts. I’m not going to speculate or discuss the rumors here, but I want to put in this caveat, as there is a decent chance this article is outdated if/when a Vidal transfer happens.

It gets more interesting when you look at the defense and attack portions of the 4-3-1-2. A four man backline, while hardly unique, hasn’t been used often at Juve recently, barring a few exceptions. Regardless, Allegri has the personnel for it. Left back is arguably his weakest area, in the sense that only Patrice Evra is a true out and out left back, but Giorgio Chiellini and Kwadwo Asamoah can and have both played games at left back. Asamoah even played there for Ghana in the World Cup. That said, I expect Asamoah to play more in midfield than he has in the past, especially if the 3-5-2 is not often used.

The centerback situation is a bit murky, but not for lack of talent. Andrea Barzagli is still recovering from a series of injuries that have plagued him since last March, when Cesare Prandelli played him in a friendly against Spain. Martin Caceres was very effective playing in Barza’s role, and I’m expecting Caceres to eventually usurp Barzagli, whether that be at the start of the season due to Barzagli’s injuries, or slowly over time as Barzagli continues to age. Chiellini, of course, is the first choice left center back, assuming he isn’t playing left back in a given game. As a lover of Leonardo Bonucci, this pains me, but I’m sure Leo will still see plenty of playing time, and especially when the 3-5-2 is used. Finally, at right back, Stephan Lichtsteiner still runs the game, while it appears Romulo will be Mauricio Isla’s replacement, although given Romulo’s flexibility I expect to see him playing all over the pitch. There is also Caceres available here, as he can and has played both right back and left back.

The lack of a true central attacking midfielder at Juventus could be an issue for Allegri’s 4-3-1-2. He has players he can try out in that role, like Tevez or Giovinco or Pogba or even Marchisio, and new signing Roberto Pereyra has played there as well. That said, Pereyra doesn’t seem to be Juventus quality – though it’s entirely too early to say so definitively – so despite his comfort in the role, it may be more prudent to experiment playing a more skilled player there. On the other hand, Allegri seems to rate Kingsley Coman highly, and Coman has played well in the friendlies. He could very well see plenty of time this season as an attacking midfielder, and I would single him out as a player to watch and an “x factor” for Allegri’s experimentation with his new side.

The strikers haven’t changed much, and given how effective Fernando Llorente’s partnership with Carlos Tevez was last season, expect those two to remain the starters, unless Tevez is played in the “1” role of the 4-3-1-2. Alvaro Morata is also likely to be a constant starter in attack, either on the wings or as a striker. Assuming of course that he returns from his injury in a timely manner.

Another thing to note – when Allegri has used the 3-5-2 in friendlies, it’s more or less the 3-5-2 you have seen in the past. Similarly, Allegri’s 4-3-3 isn’t too far from the glimpses of 4-3-3 we saw under Conte last season. Especially when the side is defending, as at Milan his wingers were expected to – note, expectations aren’t always followed by that outcome – track back and help defend out wide. Furthermore, Allegri now has some utility players, who can fill in at various positions out wide, like Romulo or Roberto Pereyra out right, alongside the returning Simone Pepe. Meanwhile on the left side, he has Tevez, Giovinco, and Morata as options. Indeed, Allegri’s occasional use of the 4-3-3 could bring new life to Giovinco’s Juventus tenure, although Giovinco’s positive performances in recent friendlies could just be due to the fact that Juventus aren’t playing good sides. Like other areas in attack, performances will flesh out which specific guys start where, though Allegri has a deep squad at his disposal. Still, he does not have very much time to experiment.

Conte’s alleged tactical inflexibility was a source of frustration for many Juventini last season – although Allegri was accused the same by Milanisti during his time there – and indeed it’s true that formation wise he varied from the 3-5-2 rarely – there’s more to tactics than the formation though. With Allegri comes new ideas and new tactics. However, Allegri will likely stick to the 3-5-2 in the beginning of the season, as most of the team is quite comfortable playing in that system and Allegri knows he needs a good start to calm skeptical fans. At any rate, it will be interesting to see how another coach uses what once was Antonio Conte’s squad.