Matthijs de Ligt joined Juventus from Ajax in 2019 following his impressive spell as Ajax’s captain in the 2019-20 season in the Eredivisie and in the Champions League. De Ligt was sought after by many clubs as a potential leader of the backline for his displays at Ajax. He was regarded by many pundits and managers alike as a world-class talent capable of leading a team, a situation which remains true in the present as well.
De Ligt’s performances for Juventus throughout three seasons have touted him to be considered as a future replacement for Giorgio Chiellini as Juventus captain. Amidst the managerial changes since his arrival at the club, de Ligt has gained the favor of every manager that has been at the helm for Juventus for his defensive displays. In an interview in early October, the Dutchman indicated his contentment at being managed by Juventus’ re-appointed manager Massimiliano Allegri. De Ligt was appreciative of the mentality and mindset that Allegri brought with him.
Amidst the interest from other clubs, de Ligt has maintained that his priority is to perform well and help his side to win silverware. In a recent 2-0 victory over Bologna, the Dutchman claimed that his side needs to improve on building from the back and that they still have a lot of work to do. While they have revived their form relatively in the previous games, Juventus have had a disappointing start to the season, a start that sees them sit seventh in the league with nine wins, four draws, and five losses in 18 matches. Despite their struggles in Serie A, Juventus have been able to secure a passage to the knockout rounds of the Champions League as group winners, and de Ligt has been instrumental for them.
Let’s dive into his stats from the Champions League this season, to understand how he will be crucial to Juventus’ Champions League ambitions in the current campaign.
Despite being a central defender, de Ligt remains impressive in possession. He is adept at combining with fellow defenders or midfielders in front of him by advancing higher up the pitch and progressing the play with his accurate passes. He has improved with his long-range passes and is becoming a threat with his long passes into the opposition’s half. The majority of his defensive stats surpass the league median value. He has excelled in defensive duels won, aerial duels, and loose ball duels won. In addition, he has averaged upward of 10 recoveries per match.
At Juventus, de Ligt has regularly featured alongside Bonucci this season. He often opts to play ranged passes towards the more advanced teammates and attempts to break the lines while he is equally capable of holding the possession for his side with his short passes and ability on the ball. His pass map displays the areas of the pitch where he has attempted his passes.
De Ligt’s heat map indicates his impressive work rate and the areas of the pitch where he is most engaged in. In Aleggri’s 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 system, de Ligt is deployed in the role of left centre-back. His aerial abilities allow him to be a threat during set plays, and his physique and power allow him to move on an opponent’s blindside as he is of running across his marker and winning the first contact, whether against zonal or individual marking systems. His heat map highlights his intensive work rate on the left side of the defense for Juventus.
De Ligt’s defending abilities and technique have remained mostly consistent since he arrived from Ajax. He is capable of keeping track of his opponents and does not shy away from defensive or aerial duels. De Ligt is adept at body-checking the opponent and constantly disturbs the rhythm of the opponent’s attackers. His duels map displays the areas of the pitch where he has engaged in defensive and aerial duels.
Since he arrived at Juventus, de Ligt has proved to be a consistent and dependable member in the backline. His 14 appearances in Serie A and five in the Champions League highlight the responsibilities that Allegri has placed on his shoulders. He will be crucial for Allegri’s ambitions in the Champions League this season.