After a slow start to the season, Juventus are finally beginning to show signs of life. They have been performing well in their recent matches and have climbed up to the fifth spot in Serie A with ten wins, four draws and five losses in 19 games. Consequently, the Old Lady have moved within four points of fourth-placed Atalanta.
Since the start of the season and more recently after last months’ defeat against Atalanta, Allegri has made changes to his tactics. He has begun opting for 4-3-3 formation instead of his usual 4-4-2, and in the recent games, a 4-2-3-1 line-up as well. Allegri’s tactical tweaks seem to have been working as Juventus have won five of their six matches across all competitions since the start of December. The Italian manager’s switch in the formation has brought on changed roles for many players. One of those players whose role has switched is the Uruguayan midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur.
Since joining the Old Lady in 2017, Bentancur has featured in multiple roles in the central midfield. Under Allegri’s first spell in charge of Juventus, Rodrigo started as a box-to-box midfielder before featuring in a deeper role. Following the arrival of Maurizio Sarri in 2019-20, Bentancur replaced Pjanic as the team’s regista and performed well in that role. Sarri’s successor, Andrea Pirlo, deployed Bentancur as a defensive midfielder in front of the backline, a decision that did not pay off. Before his re-appointment as the Juventus manager, Allegri, on punditry duty, claimed that he did not fancy Bentancur in a deep-lying role in front of the defense and that the Uruguayan was limited in that role.
Let’s dive into his stats to understand how the midfielder’s role has changed since Allegri’s re-appointment.
This season in the Champions League, Allegri has opted for either a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3 formation, however, in the final group stage match, Allegri played a 4-2-3-1 formation. Allegri’s tactical changes have pushed Bentancur higher up the pitch than he was used to in previous seasons, which has led to his increased involvement in the game in the opponent’s half. Although Bentancur has struggled to make a solid impact in his new role, he has shown glimpses that he can get accustomed to the role. The majority of his passing and progression stats surpass the league median value with the most notable stat being the average through passes per match.
Bentancur’s defensive contribution for the team has been reduced as a result of his new role although, most of his defensive stats are above the league median value. Bentancur possesses the intelligence to spot danger posed by the opponent, and he effectively takes necessary actions to eliminate that danger. The Uruguayan can hold the ball under pressure and can identify passing lanes nearby. His most notable defensive stats are average defensive duels per match and average recoveries in the opponent’s half per match.
One of Bentancur’s best assets is his passing range and ability. He is adept at using his passing range and can ping the ball above the defensive line, which can then be latched on by Juventus’ attacking players. The changed role this season has seen him play more long-range passes and diagonal balls into the opponent’s half. His pass map displays the location of the passes that he has made in the opposition half. Many of his passes near the opposition box carry a high threat.
In Allegri’s 4-4-2 system, Bentancur has been deployed on the right side of midfield, while in the 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 formation, he is pushed in a higher position on the pitch towards the left flank, more specifically in recent matches. The new creative role might bring more challenges for the Uruguayan as he is not known for his ball-carrying or overall threat in the attacking third, although his work rate and strong ball-holding can be advantageous for Juventus in the higher areas of the pitch. His heat map displays his heavy involvement in the opponent’s half.
Since Allegri’s re-appointment as the Juventus manager, Bentancur’s role has been evolving slowly, however, he needs more time to get accustomed to that role. Over the years, he has shown his versatility by slotting in on multiple roles.