Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri was left with much to think about following his side’s late 1-0 victory over Fiorentina on Saturday evening, nothing more so than Federico Chiesa.
It was a performance that did not differ much at all from those that have angered, and in some cases bored, many Bianconeri fans since he returned to the club during the summer. He has so far valued pragmatism and defensive solidity over attacking intent, as was largely the case during his first spell at Juve where he delivered five consecutive Serie A titles.
The difference this time though is that the results that warrant the pragmatic approach have not been there. The Bianconeri had a terrible start to the campaign, taking two points from their first four fixtures which included a home defeat to Empoli.
The results did improve though, as they beat Spezia, Sampdoria, Torino, and Roma all in a row by a one-goal margin. It seemed that whilst it wasn’t fun to watch, Allegri had found a way to get his team back into the running for at least a top-four finish and maybe even a title charge.
Defeats against Sassuolo and Hellas Verona in recent weeks have renewed the criticism around Allegri and his style of play.
A 0-0 draw at home against a Fiorentina team that was reduced to 10 men when Nikola Milenkovic was sent off would have put serious pressure on Allegri to get his team back to winning ways in the league.
Thankfully for him, in stoppage-time Juan Cuadrado scored the kind of goal that only a player that possesses his pace and persistence can score. He drove into the box and despite the tight angle, fired a powerful shot at Pietro Terracciano which the keeper ought to have done better with.
A familiar problem for Chiesa
One of the major factors that are turning the opinions of Juve fans against Allegri is his use of Federico Chiesa.
Over the summer with Italy, Chiesa showed that he has the ability to be one of the best forwards in Europe. He was a key part of the Azzurri’s triumph at Euro 2020 and many were excited to see how he could kick on in Serie A this season.
He has predominantly played as the right-sided midfielder as part of a 4-4-2 formation that is very rigid and does not allow for much freedom of movement for a player who thrives on his own unpredictability.
He played this role against Fiorentina whilst Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata were given the chance to play as the two strikers. Whilst Allegri’s desire to use those two forwards is completely fair, it is leading to him making little use of one of the most talented players in his squad.
Chiesa was almost non-existent during the match on Saturday evening until later in the game where he was given the opportunity to get forward more freely as Juve pushed for a winner, knowing they had an extra player.
The forward obliged by firing an excellent strike against the crossbar after expertly creating some room for himself in the box. He also got on the end of a Cuadrado cross but saw his first-time shot saved by Terracciano from close range.
Those chances were the first time that it genuinely felt like Juve could get those precious three points and it makes you wonder how the game would have gone if he had spent the whole game in the final third, rather than acting as a shield for Danilo at right-back.
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