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UEFA Champions League Final: Scouting Juventus FC Defenders

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A deep look into the defenders on the Juventus roster.

Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

In the second installment of this series we will take a look at the defensive corps of Juventus. As a team from the nation that perfected the Catenaccio it should come as little surprise that the Juventus back-line has given up very few goals this season. Having Gianluigi Buffon certainly helps, but Massimiliano Allegri has done a very good job organizing his defensive line and has used many players to get the job done. And because of the sheer number of defenders on the squad it's time to stop mucking about and dive in.

Giorgio Chiellini

Giorgio Chiellini of Juventus celebrates victory after the UEFA Champions League semi final first leg match between Juventus and Real Madrid CF at Juventus Arena on May 5, 2015 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Position: Center-back
Squad No.: 3
Date of birth: 14 August 1984
Place of birth: Pisa, Italy
Height: 1.86m (6' 1'')
Weight: 76 kg (168 lbs)

Games Played 45
Games Started 43
Minutes Played 4000
Goals Scored 1
Assists
2
Clearances/Game
5.5
Tackles Won 75%
Pass Accuracy 88%
Fouls 45
Fouls Won 57
Yellow Cards 11
Red Cards 0

Chiellini, Juventus' vice-captain, is one of the hardest working defenders you will come across in the game right now. Very aggressive, but not reckless, the Italian is known for his physical play and hard tackling. He also excels in the air game where he very rarely strays out of position or gets out-jumped. His aerial abilities also translate to the opposite side of the pitch where he's been known to power headers into the back of the net, but he hasn't been able to do that on a consistent basis. Chiellini broke into the football world as a left back, but has really made a name for himself after he switched to play in the heart of the defense, as a center-back, either in a three or four man defense. Chiellini never gives up on any play, making him one of the leaders of this Juventus team, even if it means ending the game in similar fashion to the picture above - which has happened more often than you would think.

Patrice Evra

Patrice Evra of Juventus FC in action during the Serie A match between Juventus FC and UC Sampdoria at Juventus Arena on December 14, 2014 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)

Position: Left-back
Squad No.: 33
Date of birth: 15 May 1981
Place of birth: Dakar, Senegal
Height: 1.73m (5' 8'')
Weight: 76 kg (168 lbs)

Games Played 33
Games Started 33
Minutes Played 2931
Goals Scored 1
Assists
4
Clearances/Game
2.9
Tackles Won 73%
Pass Accuracy 84%
Fouls 34
Fouls Won 22
Yellow Cards 5
Red Cards 0

Evra has experience in playing not only in the Champions League final, he has lifted the most prestigious club trophy once, but also playing in the final against Barcelona, which he has done twice, losing both times. The French international has been Allegri's primary left-back, but because of his advancing age Evra has been given plenty of rest between appearances. He also lost some playing time due to a hamstring injury midway through the season. Once regarded as one of the best-left backs in Europe, Evra has left his best football years in the rear view mirror, but he has still been able to produce at a high level in his first year in Turin. Evra has added some much needed productivity to Juventus' left side and, more importantly, some stability as it was definitely an area of need for the Italian Champions before the season.

Stephan Lichtsteiner

Stephan Lichtsteiner of Juventus FC controls the ball during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale Milano and Juventus FC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on May 16, 2015 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Position: Right-back
Squad No.: 26
Date of birth: 16 January 1984
Place of birth: Adligenswil, Switzerland
Height: 1.80m (5' 11'')
Weight: 77 kg (170 lbs)

Games Played 49
Games Started 43
Minutes Played 3981
Goals Scored 3
Assists
6
Clearances/Game
1.7
Tackles Won 81%
Pass Accuracy 80%
Fouls 51
Fouls Won 79
Yellow Cards 11
Red Cards 1

As one of the longest serving Juventus players, which is surprising because he's been with the team only since the summer of 2011, Lichtsteiner has emerged as a leader on the pitch. He has gotten the reputation of a man who never gets tired, exhibited by his constant running up and down the pitch, leading to good numbers both on offense and on defense. Lichtsteiner can play anywhere on the right side of the pitch, may it be at right-back or at right-wing, and he is often the key to providing width to Juventus in attack, without seemingly missing a beat defensively. Without a doubt one of Allegri's key players to success this season and if Juventus want to add another trophy to their cabinet the Swiss international will have to have a big game.

Leonardo Bonucci

Leonardo Bonucci during Italy Training Session at Coverciano on March 25, 2015 in Florence, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Position: Center-back
Squad No.: 19
Date of birth: 1 May 1987
Place of birth: Viterbo, Italy
Height: 1.90m (6' 3'')
Weight: 82 kg (181 lbs)

Games Played 51
Games Started 50
Minutes Played 4605
Goals Scored 4
Assists
0
Clearances/Game
5.3
Tackles Won 73%
Pass Accuracy 87%
Fouls 43
Fouls Won 27
Yellow Cards 11
Red Cards 0

Bonucci is arguably the most dependable and reliable defender on the Juventus roster and, of the expected starters on Saturday, the youngest. The 28-year old has been the most used defender by Allegri, he missed only five matches this season, and there is a reason behind that. Bonucci seemingly never loses concentration through the game. Extremely confident with the ball at his feet, Bonucci very rarely makes a mistake when in possession. While he might be having a slightly off year tackling wise, he is still very solid in that facet of the game. His tall and strong frame make him a asset in the air game on both side of the pitch.

Andrea Barzagli

Andrea Barzagli of Juventus FC gestures during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale Milano and Juventus FC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on May 16, 2015 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Position: Center-back
Squad No.: 15
Date of birth: 8 May 1981
Place of birth: Fiesole, Italy
Height: 1.86m (6' 1'')
Weight: 79 kg (174 lbs)

Games Played 16
Games Started 11
Minutes Played 1100
Goals Scored 0
Assists
0
Clearances/Game
4.0
Tackles Won 75%
Pass Accuracy 87%
Fouls 3
Fouls Won 6
Yellow Cards 2
Red Cards 0

The oldest member of this defensive corps, Barzagli has been having a slow season, mostly due to a heel injury picked up at the start of the season which ruled him out for nearly five months. But since his return in late January Barzagli has been getting some big minutes in big matches. An excellent distributor of the ball, Barzagli isn't considered a shut-down defender anymore, but his is still very good. With diminishing speed he has become more reliable positionally, but he has lost some jump in his step, resulting in less dominance in the air game. Barzagli is currently facing a fitness struggle as his expected return date from a diagnosed muscle injury is the day of the final.

Martin Caceres

Besart Berisha of the All Stars competes with Martin Caceres of Juventus during the match between the A-League All Stars and Juventus at ANZ Stadium on August 10, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Joosep Martinson/Getty Images)

Position: Center-back
Squad No.: 4
Date of birth: 7 April 1987
Place of birth: Montevideo, Uruguay
Height: 1.82m (6' 0'')
Weight: 77 kg (170 lbs)

Games Played 14
Games Started 13
Minutes Played 1045
Goals Scored 1
Assists
1
Clearances/Game
1.9
Tackles Won
87%
Pass Accuracy 89%
Fouls 5
Fouls Won 11
Yellow Cards 1
Red Cards 0

The former member of FC Barcelona, Caceres has been a part of a treble winning season before, with Barça in the historic 2008-09 season, though he never found a home in Catalonia. But he has done so in Turin where he's become the primary backup to Lichtsteiner at right-back but has seen most of the action in the heart of the defense when the usual starters needed some rest. He can also play at left-back if necessary, but playing time on the left side has been scarce. As expected from a former Blaugrana, he is excellent with the ball at his feet and is also a very sure tackler. This has been an injury plagued season for the Uruguay international who first missed two months with a hamstring injury and then, in March, broke his ankle in a training session and has been ruled out ever since.

Angelo Ogbonna

Angelo Ogbonna of Juventus FC in action during the Serie A match between ACF Fiorentina and Juventus FC at Stadio Artemio Franchi on December 5, 2014 in Florence, Italy. (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)

Position: Center-back
Squad No.: 5
Date of birth: 23 May 1988
Place of birth: Cassino, Italy
Height: 1.91m (6' 1'')
Weight: 86 kg (190 lbs)

Games Played 30
Games Started 22
Minutes Played 2060
Goals Scored 0
Assists
0
Clearances/Game
3.4
Tackles Won 70%
Pass Accuracy 89%
Fouls 18
Fouls Won 18
Yellow Cards 4
Red Cards 0

Playing in his second season for Juventus, after joining from city rivals Torino FC, Ogbonna has taken full advantage of the numerous injuries that have befallen his defensive teammates. Entering the best years for a central defender, he turned 27 a couple weeks ago, Ogbonna has proved he has the qualities to start for Juventus, but is still behind the three most experienced center-backs on the depth chart. With the reputation of an excellent passer Ogbonna is perfect for a team trying to build play from the back. Tackling-wise he still has things to learn as no defender on the roster has won less tackles than he has. Ogbonna can also play at left-back due to his vision and speed, but because of his physical attributes he profiles better as a center-back.

Paolo De Ceglie

Paolo De Ceglie of Genoa CFC in action during the Serie A match between ACF Fiorentina and Genoa CFC at Stadio Artemio Franchi on January 26, 2014 in Florence, Italy. (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)

Position: Left-back
Squad No.: 17
Date of birth: 17 September 1986
Place of birth: Aosta, Italy
Height: 1.84m (6' 1'')
Weight: 75 kg (165 lbs)

Games Played 14
Games Started 13
Minutes Played 940
Goals Scored 3
Assists
0
Clearances/Game
0.9
Tackles Won
95%
Pass Accuracy 77%
Fouls 22
Fouls Won 10
Yellow Cards 3
Red Cards 0

A rare Juventus academy graduate to currently play in the first team, De Ceglie is a left-footed left-back that can easily slot on the left side of the midfield and even on the wing. Not necessarily known as a good tackler, he has impressed this season in that area, albeit in a small sample size. De Ceglie brings good attacking punch to the left side as he's considered to be a good finished for a defender, but his passing is one of his biggest weaknesses and one of the main reasons he doesn't see more playing time in midfield where his defensive deficiencies wouldn't leave the left side exposed.

Overview

Allegri has many options available when it come to choosing the back-line, but if the former AC Milan coach decides to go with a four-man line like he did against Real Madrid it will very likely feature Lichtsteiner, Chielini, Bonucci and Evra. Allegri could also send five defenders on the pitch, with the two full backs pushed up, in which case Barzagli will start. There have been some fitness concerns regarding the veteran defender so look for Ogbonna to replace him if Barzagli can't go. Because of the versatility of midfielder Simone Padoin (more on him tomorrow), Juventus usually only place one natural defender on the bench, a place that will likely be filled by one of Barzagli or Ogbonna, again, if fit Barzagli will be the first choice. This leaves Caceres and De Ceglie on the outside looking in and it is unlikely that either of them, especially Caceres because of the injury, will be included in the match-squad unless something unexpected happens.