The Italian full-back has surpassed both Kostic and Iling-Junior in Allegri’s hierarchies, providing fresh tactical acumen for the Bianconeri manager.

The Serie A season may have only just begun but it’s already interesting to see the impact that Andrea Cambiaso had for Juventus so far. Signed from Genoa last summer, Cambiaso came back to Turin after a year-long loan spell in Bologna. It seemed yet another quick stop before leaving for another experience on loan. In Massimiliano Allegri’s 3-5-2 system, the importance of Kostic on the left wing seemed unshakable, and it looked like Iling-Junior was the first choice as a ‘game-changing’ substitute with his unpredictability.

In just a few weeks, though, everything changed: Cambiaso played in almost every pre-season friendly and in the first two matches of the new Serie A campaign - and he played well – while Kostic was ‘relegated’ to a marginal role in the squad and a potential transfer in the last days of the window is far from impossible.

This is because Cambiaso has a really different interpretation of the position compared to Kostic. If the Serbian is some sort of crossing machine that runs up and down the wing like a train, Cambiaso has a much more natural attitude to play toward the center of the pitch, occupying internal spaces, almost playing as an added inside-forward during possession. The idea of having full-backs that cut toward the center to help fluidity during the build-up is already used by many teams in Europe, but it can be considered a novelty in Allegri’s system, and it’s not certain that it will be used throughout the whole season.

A comparison between Cambiaso’s actions on the field during Juventus’ 0-3 win at Udinese in this season’s debut vs. Kostic in the match against AC Milan last season (screens from Wyscout Player in Match Report).

What are the main advantages for Juventus? The first and most obvious one is that, by cutting toward the center pitch, Cambiaso leaves space open in the last third for Federico Chiesa.

One of the biggest problems last season was the coexistence between the Italian striker and Kostic, who often found themselves playing in the same zone, wide on the left wing. But with Cambiaso, Chiesa can start as a second striker with the freedom to play wider, as he loves to receive the ball and engage in 1v1s.

A good example is the play that led to the third goal against Udinese, which started from the right wing and continued with a pass from Rabiot to Cambiaso. The Italian had cut centrally to then play wide to Chiesa, who did the opposite movement. Chiesa then attacked his opponent, drawing the defense’s attention to him, before passing the ball back to Cambiaso – who, in the meantime, slid behind him - with a back-heel pass. Left free to act, he then crossed perfectly toward Rabiot’s head for Juve’s last goal.

Moreover, Cambiaso showed such presence and enthusiasm in the game that were quite surprising for a 23-year-old debuting in a big team. Against Udinese, he was the best in the team for successful passes (36/38), with 9/9 successful forward passes. Against Bologna, 11 out of the 14 duels that he tried were offensive ones, proving once more how Allegri picked him to support Juventus’ mindset this season of trying to win the ball back higher up the pitch – although they did it better against Udinese than last Sunday with Bologna.

In this image from Wyscout Match Report on the players’ average positions during Juventus-Bologna, it’s easy to identify Cambiaso's (number 27) more ‘central’ interpretation of the role when compared to Iling-Junior, who substituted him in the 66th minute (number 17).

Even if Cambiaso is a more classic full-back, right now he offers Allegri more varied solutions than Kostic and Iling-Junior for the kind of offense he wants to run. Sure, when compared to the other two he is a less self-sufficient player, with fewer abilities to create decisive chances in the offensive third. The assist for Vlahovic’s 1-1 goal against Bologna came from a nice offensive play from Iling-Junior on the wing, something that would be difficult to see from the Italian full-back.

However, to have different players that interpret the role in a different way is still an advantage for a manager. At this start of the season Allegri, as we say, is betting heavily on Cambiaso’s tactical acumen, and he recently described him as a “very intelligent” player. A new solution, that Juventus found at home at almost no cost, in a moment when they’re trying to limit expenses on the transfer market. We’re just at the beginning of the season, but Cambiaso is already a nice surprise.

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