Miralem Pjanić joined Juventus last summer in a big money move from rivals AS Roma. The Bosnian attacking midfielder had just enjoyed a productive season in which he scored 10 goals and assisted 12 in the capital. Deployed as a trequartista behind the striker or as part of a three-man midfield, Pjanić had been excellent for Roma and expectations were high upon his move to Turin.
Initially, coach Massimiliano Allegri tried Pjanić as a regista at the base of midfield, as a central midfielder in a 3-5-2 and as a trequartista. Pjanić managed both goals and assists, but his performances weren’t exactly what Juve had hoped for. This all changed in January when Allegri changed his system and Pjanić position.
After Fiorentina had outplayed Juve in Florence, Allegri changed his tactics to a 4-2-3-1 formation for the next game against Lazio. In this formation, Pjanić was deployed alongside Sami Khedira in the double pivot in central midfield. This was a big change from where he had previously been positioned. In terms of his attacking attributes there was no doubts whether or not he could make the transition to a deeper role. The doubt was about his defending. Just two weeks earlier, Pjanić lined up as a trequartista in a 4-3-2-1 where he had little defensive responsibility. Now he was tasked with protecting the back four from the incredibly important zone just in front of his own defence.
These fears has been proved unnecessary though as Pjanić has surprised everyone with his tactical understanding and positioning as well as his ball winning qualities. For example, in the hugely challenging second leg Champions League semifinal at the Camp Nou against Barcelona, Pjanić won six tackles and made five interceptions. Those are numbers N’Golo Kanté would be proud of. Credit must also go to Allegri who has designed a system to get the best out of his players and he has clearly worked a lot with Pjanić on the defensive side of the position.
As I mentioned above, there was never any doubt around Pjanić attacking qualities from a deeper role. His passing is superb with a skillset including every type of pass imaginable. As you see in the video below, Pjanić passing range is fantastic and among the best in Europe.
An exciting prospect of deploying Pjanić deeper in midfield is the longer sweeping passes in behind the defence which he can deliver immaculately. Players like Khedira and Claudio Marchisio are fantastic, but don’t possess the passing range to consistently deliver these types of passes with the accuracy Pjanić can. As you see below, Pjanić can be quite reminiscent of Andrea Pirlo when creating from deep. This brings an added dimension to Juventus positional play.
With an unrivalled passing technique, sublime technical quality and remarkable football intelligence, Pjanić is also very resistant to being put under pressure. He remains calm and can dribble out of tight situations to then deliver the next pass.
Everyone knows about Pjanić quality from dead balls and with him and Paulo Dybala on the pitch at the same time, Juve are a threat from every free kick. Enjoy these three goals below.
After a slow start in Turin when Pjanić got to know Juventus and Juventus and Allegri got to know Pjanić, he has now found his place in the soon-to-be champions of Italy. Pjanić has exceeded expectations since moving into a deeper, central midfield position and now looks like one of the leading midfielders in Europe. He combines superb passing ability with the creativity to unlock the tightest of defences and is a good defensive player with a specifically impressive ability to make interceptions. His performances in the Champions League have been particularly eye-catching with the Bosnian maverick dominating against Porto, Barcelona and recently Monaco. Juventus has a great chance of making the final and it would be a fitting development of a superb midfielder to compete in the biggest club game on the planet.
Allegri has said Pjanić “can be one of the top three central midfielders in the world” and Pjanić is right now proving his coach right. With a league title all but secured, a Coppa Italia final booked in for later this month and one leg in the Champions League final, this can develop into a spectacular debut season in Turin for the superb Miralem Pjanić.