Juventus’ recent 2-0 win over Inter should ring bells for many. It wasn’t just a reminder of Juve’s dominance over the nerazzurri. A deeper look at the bianconeri side would suggest that not all is good for Miralem Pjanic. Once again, the Bosnian wasn’t starting and Juventus won with young Rodrigo Bentancur starting.
Pjanic’s last start for Juve came against Hellas Verona at the Bentegodi. It was his error that led to Fabio Borini’s goal. After that, the former Roma man didn’t start against Brescia in a 2-0 win and wasn’t on the bench because of an injury in a win over SPAL. In all those games and the tie against Inter, Bentancur has been proving that he could well be a better option than Pjanic in Maurizio Sarri’s anchorman role.
Pjanic has made 22 Serie A appearances this season before this phase, he was a regular as the deepest midfielder. He got potentially match-winning goals against SPAL, Brescia and Bologna earlier in the season – the latter demonstrating that leading online bookmaker bettinglounge.co.uk is very accurate in their forecasts. He was seen as someone who keeps the ball and ticks the possession-based play.
While that is a key part of Sarri’s system considering how important Jorginho was to him, but Pjanic’s flaws have come to the fore in recent weeks. He is quite the same on the ball, playing 66.3 passes per game with the accuracy of 89.8 percent. But he gets dribbled past 1.5 times per game. He wins only 1.7 tackles per game and he’s seen as someone who is easy to go past.
A lot of it does come from how the front pressing doesn’t really work. Cristiano Ronaldo makes only 1.8 recoveries per game and makes no pressing regains either. The same goes for Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain. They aren’t the best off-the-ball workers like someone like Lautaro Martinez is. This allows opposition teams to play through the first line of the Juve defence.
That does let Pjanic down. But that isn’t the case for Bentancur. The situation is the same- Juve can’t press high. But Bentancur lives up to the task.
Against Brescia, for example, Bentancur was dribbled past only once. But he also won two tackles and made three interceptions. More than that, he played as many as 104 passes in the game.
Bentancur has a tackle success ratio of 54.3 percent- higher than Pjanic’s tally. His body shape is bigger and taller, allowing him to get stuck in more than Pjanic can. Over the years, Pjanic was a playmaker and never a defensive midfielder. Naturally, he is not supposed to be a tackler.
Credit should be given to Sarri for improving Bentancur this season. He was a central midfielder in his 4-3-1-2 before playing deeper. That role saw him grab six assists and adding a lot of vibrancy to the Juve midfield. He has given them the sort of dynamism which has been lacking for a big part of the whole campaign.
But that has left Pjanic in a tough situation. Juve have already signed Dejan Kulusevski and the Swede can be very versatile in midfield. He can don the role that Bentancur was playing and that will take away another potential spot for Pjanic.
The former Lyon man’s current deal runs out in the summer of 2023. His global appeal hasn’t exactly been affected. If the situation is handled properly, they can still earn a profit for what they brought him for. He is still 29 and in the right role, could be at the peak of powers like he seemed to be at the start of the season.