Football

Allegri's motto: Good defending is as beautiful as a great attacking move

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri will have to reshuffle his side again for Real Madrid's visit tomorrow morning (Singapore time), yet it is all water off a duck's back for one of Europe's master tacticians.

In just under four seasons at Juve, Allegri, who will be unable to call on suspended defender Medhi Benatia and midfielder Miralem Pjanic, has shown an uncanny knack of switching formations between and often during matches.

Juventus, who host Real in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final, have won three successive Italian league and cup doubles and reached two Champions League finals under Allegri.

During that period, he has repeatedly and successfully managed to rebuild his side after the departures of key players such as Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal, Carlos Tevez, Paul Pogba and Leonardo Bonucci.

In the last few months, Allegri has fielded a 3-5-2 formation, a 4-2-3-1, a 4-3-3 and a 4-1-4-1, all proving equally effective.

Rather than emphasising fight and commitment, the 50-year-old likes to talk about the importance of "interpreting the moment".

He says his team enjoy defending as much as trying to score goals and said last year that good defending is "as beautiful as a great attacking move".

One of his most recent masterstrokes was in the second leg of the last-16 tie against Tottenham Hotspur when Allegri altered the course of the game with two changes in a minute.

Juve were losing 1-0, and trailing 3-2 on aggregate, when Allegri replaced defensive midfielder Blaise Matuidi with left-back Kwadwo Asamoah, then a minute later brought on right-back Stephan Lichtensteiner for central defender Benatia.

Juventus then scored two quick goals and went through 4-3 on aggregate.

Last Saturday, with his side drawing 1-1 with AC Milan, Allegri introduced winger Juan Cuadrado on the hour.

Fifteen minutes later, the Colombian, returning after a three-month injury-enforced absence, scored to set his side on the way to a 3-1 win. - REUTERS

Football