Juventus earned a 1-0 win against Sporting CP on Thursday night in first leg of the Europa League quarter-finals and Federico Gatti proved to be the unlikely source for the goal in this tight European encounter.
The defender found the breakthrough in the 73rd minute after a corner from the right. Substitute Dusan Vlahovic headed the ball on target, and after two Sporting defenders failed to clear it, Gatti smashed his shot into the net from right in front of goal.
It has been a bright spell for the former Frosinone defender, who has been earning more starts in the Juventus defence in recent weeks. A robust player defensively but tidy with the ball at his feet, the 24-year-old has rejuvenated an ageing Bianconeri defence.
They were able to hold on thanks to a double save from Mattia Perin late in the game, who came on for the injured Wojciech Szczesny, but Gatti’s goal has given the Italian giants the advantage.
Allegri fails to mirror Sporting CP coach Amorim
Massimiliano Allegri implemented the 3-4-3 formation with Angel Di Maria, Arkadiusz Milik, and Federico Chiesa starting in attack for Juventus, which looked promising in the first 25 minutes or so. Afterwards, Sporting got into the game more and the Bianconeri struggled to get out of their own half.
Having not used this particular formation previously with Juve, it seemed that Allegri had changed his system for the sake of mirroring his Portuguese counterpart Ruben Amorim. The team from Lisbon frequently play in the 3-4-3 formation and know how the system works whereas the Bianconeri tactician failed at being a tactical chameleon this time.
Allegri brought on Vlahovic for Milik and Nicolo Fagioli for Filip Kostic after 63 minutes, conceding that the tactical experiment was failing.
Gatti becoming a revelation for Juventus
When Gatti was acquired by Juventus in January 2022, he was seen as an unknown quantity, having risen from the lower divisions of Italian football. The Bianconeri signed him from Frosinone but left him on loan for the remainder of the Serie B campaign.
His performances in the Cadetti were so impressive, Italy coach Roberto Mancini even started calling him up to the Azzurri squad. Although Allegri has taken time to integrate the centre-back into the squad, it is clear now that the former Canarini defender is important for the evolution of the Bianconeri defence.
With Leonardo Bonucci in the twilight of his career and Alex Sandro also showing signs of decline, Gatti has started in the last three Serie A matches as well as this European clash.
The 24-year-old may not have a lot of experience but he is showing that he can make it up in many ways. Juventus are close to a Europa League semi-final spot thanks to him.