Tactical flexibility was a term that was previously used only for Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich, mainly because the Bavarians made fun of the formation they had set out in.
They would change their shape and adapt accordingly to the needs of the game and the weaknesses of their opposition.
But since 2015, another team has become almost as flexible as the mighty Bavarians. Massimiliano Allegri’s Juventus are on another level, a class above all their rivals in Serie A and their 48-year-old Italian tactician should accept most of the credit.
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When Allegri joined Juventus, he inherited a team strictly moulded into a 3-5-2 formation by Antonio Conte, a team that had enough firepower to win Serie A, but was too rigid to succeed in Europe.
Allegri immediately gave this team the freedom of expression, slowly changing from a 3-5-2 to a 4-3-1-2 as he aimed to take the Old Lady back to the top in Europe. While he gradually switched his formation, the change was there for everyone to see.
This was a Juventus reborn, liberated from the shackles previously placed on them by Antonio Conte, and it showed. Juventus switched formations in between games, and didn’t even blink.
This season, despite losing the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Carlos Tevez and Arturo Vidal, and having to suffer from a indifferent start, Allegri’s Juventus are back where they belong, at the top end of the table.
They have managed to adapt and change, while still managing to win, something this Chelsea team seemed to be lacking under Jose Mourinho.
While Guus Hiddink has been brought in and given the players a bit more freedom, Chelsea still require rebuilding.
They have been one-dimensional, one-paced at times, with opposing teams learning to cope against the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian.
The likes of Jorge Sampaoli and Antonio Conte will offer solidity to Chelsea, but it is Allegri that will give Chelsea the tactical imagination to compete against Europe’s big teams again.