Aaron Ramsey ended his 11-year spell at Arsenal last summer after signing a pre-contract agreement with Juventus in February 2019. The 29-year-old has since been earning £400,000 a week on a four-year contract in Turin making him the highest-paid Welshman just ahead of Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale who earns £350,000 a week respectively.
Ramsey has featured in 15 Serie A games this season since joining the club this summer, during this time he has been able to have a big impact on games on a number of occasions scoring a total of three goals and assisting one. The midfielder has been able to fit nicely into Maurizio Sarri’s tactics and has adapted well to the new culture and league in Italy.
In this tactical analysis piece in the form of a scout report, we will examine the role that Ramsey has played since joining the club from Arsenal. I will attempt to provide an analysis of Ramsey’s role both in and out of possession and I will also highlight how he has impressed on the pitch for Juventus during his time at the Allianz Stadium.
Ramsey’s role for Juventus
Firstly, we need to recognise the positioning of Ramsey within Sarri’s tactics. This will enable us to see the overall impact of the midfielder in terms of how he fits in with Juventus’ style of play and how he has helped to create a greater balance at both ends of the pitch. Above we can see an example of Ramsey’s positioning within Juventus’ 4-3-3 formation. Here he is situated on the right-hand side of the midfield trio alongside Blaise Matuidi and Rodrigo Bentancur, within this position he is given greater freedom to drift into vacant spaces and play in between the lines.
Compared to the role of the deep-lying playmaker in Sarri’s system Ramsey is given more freedom and responsibility when it comes to his attacking positions, possibly due to his pace and stamina which ensures that he can make good covering runs and clever off the ball movements.
The arrival of Ramsey to Juventus has certainly given them more variety with their midfield options and helps to make them unpredictable and tactically adaptable, especially when playing in those bigger Champions League fixtures.
With that in mind, Ramsey has been able to use his skill set to maintain the matchday tempo while still playing relatively comfortable under the pressure. Within Sarri’s tactics the deep-lying playmaker is heavily relied on to progress the play, however often times this season this player was being man-marked throughout a game, as a result Juventus have had to become more reliant on the full-backs and advanced midfielders for support during the build-up.
In the image above we can see Ramsey shift out-wide towards the ball carrier (Danilo) where a pass can be played into the 29-year-old. Upon receiving the ball Ramsey can then play the ball around the corner towards either Matuidi or Miralem Pjanić where the attack can then be progressed. This aspect in Ramsey’s game is crucial to Juventus because it allowed them to bypass the press of Hellas Verona while also ensuring that they have more than one option and dimension to play the ball out with. Ramsey is again in a similar position on the right-hand side ready to link-up play again.
Ramsey’s role in possession
In this image, we can see Ramsey occupying the right side of the midfield alongside Matuidi as highlighted earlier. However, on this occasion he is staying more central and closer to Matuidi. By doing this the midfield duo can attract more of the Verona players which will help to temporarily alleviate the pressure on the centre-backs as it is now easier for them to find a pass towards a full-back as the passing lanes remain open. Also if Ramsey was to receive the ball here, the link-up play between him and his French teammate will come by easily due to the distance between the pair. And if pressure was to be applied the option of executing a one-two with Matuidi could provide a quick and effective solution.
Even so more often than not, Ramsey can be found further up the field when Juventus have the ball in their opponent’s half. This is because Juventus’ defensive line is no longer under any pressure therefore Ramsey’s extra defensive coverage is no longer needed. Even so when going forward Ramsey is able to play a bigger part in the ball progression where his technical and quick thinking can help Juventus create a breakthrough. We can see Ramsey in a similar position later on in the same game, highlighting the importance of his attacking movements. Thanks to the attacking freedom granted to him by Sarri, Ramsey is able to find himself in threatening positions where he can have a greater influence on the game. For instance, in the example below, we can see him positioned on the edge of the box where either a shot or a pass can be made. However, the more important aspect of this is how he was able to get into this position in the first place.
As they are in the final third Juventus are able to commit more bodies into the box, which means that more of the opponent’s defenders have to commit to marking these players. This allows Alex Sandro to drive the ball towards the box where the occupied defenders are, during this Ramsey is able to come in on a late run where he is unmarked and free to make the next move.
This creates a difficult attacking shape for SPAL to defend against as their back-line is forced into the box where they have to cover all the Juventus players. While this is happening Sandro is able to advance with the ball. This causes the unoccupied midfielders from SPAL to go towards the Brazilian which in turn leaves Ramsey free in an overload to receive the ball.
Runs from midfield
As highlighted previously, Aaron Ramsey is able to make effective runs from deep to get himself in good positions. With the example below, we can see him bursting into space on the counter, helping to provide numbers to create the overload. As is usually the case the support provided by Ramsey helps to make the attack more potent, as the Welshman tends to drift in and out of the lines freely where he goes unnoticed. Ramsey has drifted in between the lines of the SPAL players where he is able to pick up the ball and sprint through the gap between the centre-back and full-back. This phase of play perfectly highlights the role Ramsey plays for Juventus on the attack, he doesn’t provide much of a threat when compared to his other teammates, yet when making these runs he seems to add an extra attacking option which helps to create the breakthrough. This is particularly important against teams who like to sit back on the defence and are hard to break down. The result of his run is a goal, further illuminating the importance of his runs. Ramsey has attempted 0.8 dribbles per game and has had 1.4 shots per game on average this season, which when taking into account his role for Juventus is quite low and surprising considering the goal we have just analysed above. Ramsey will need to improve in this area if he wishes to score more than three goals in Serie A this year.
Ramsey’s ability to read the game is an important trait for the Welshman, especially during transitions as it allows him to perform efficiently in defensive duels. In the image below we can see Ramsey closing down the ball receiver, while at the same time he is screening the possible passing options. This is effective because, by the time the player from Inter has the ball by his feet, Ramsey would have already closed down the distance between him and the ball. This forces the player in possession to now rethink his strategy as a different approach is now needed. However, by this time it is too late. The pressing trigger is already put into motion by Juventus and Douglas Costa is there to get the ball and regain possession for his team. Ramsey positioned himself well and clearly demonstrated his ability to read the game, which allowed him to effectively contest the ball carrier and relieve the pressure on his team. His positioning here is combined well with that of his teammates who are all working together to prevent potential passes out wide and through the middle of the pitch. This massively limits the passing options for the ball carrier and essentially slows him down. During this slight delay, Ramsey will push forward and press the ball carrier and because the majority of passing options are blocked he has no choice but to either give the ball away or play the ball back towards a centre-back. Here we can see Ramsey applying the press while still working with his teammates at the middle of the pitch. The continuous pressure created by the defensive position of Juventus forces the opponent to turn towards his goal where a safer passing option is available.
To conclude this tactical analysis piece in the form of a scout report, it’s clear that Ramsey offers a lot to Juventus going forward with his calmness and reliability to create. While his intelligent positioning off the ball and tactical knowledge make him equally as effective when defending.
His presence combined with that of Matuidi and Pjanić has helped to strike the perfect balance for Juventus in midfield which has enabled them to create a more expansive and attacking culture at the Allianz Stadium. Overall, Ramsey is an intelligent reader of the game who constantly helps Juventus create solutions in challenging circumstances while simultaneously remaining calm and composed on the ball.