As the dust settled on Juventus’ most recent result, the problems faced in a 2-1 defeat to Fiorentina at the weekend were understandably widely discussed. While the Stadio Artemio Franchi was vibrant, loud and passionate, the performance from the Bianconeri was anything but as coach Massimiliano Allegri’s side fell flat once again.

Just as they were against AC Milan (twice), Genoa and Inter Milan, the Turin giants were lifeless, devoid of attacking ideas and defensively weak, completely overrun by an opponent who should not be able to match them in terms of overall quality.

Yet in all four defeats, Juventus have looked the weaker team, leading to much criticism both from outsiders and from the players themselves, with perhaps a social media post from Leonardo Bonucci best summing up the display.

“Hunger, balls and intensity. Them, not us,” the defender wrote (in Italian) in the tweet above. “We have zero excuses.” Bonucci should be applauded for such an approach, but the final sentence there is not exactly accurate, and it is Allegri and his bosses who must shoulder that burden.

He sent the team out in Juve’s tried and trusted 3-5-2 formation, but opponents appear to have solved that framework comprehensively this term. In all four Serie A matches that Juve have lost, the team has lined up that way only to find themselves outplayed across the pitch and looking completely ill at ease.

Of course there have been games where it has worked, with many Italian teams simply unable to tactically negate Juve’s strengths whether through a lack of quality or poor coaching. Yet the results do not and should not be allowed to mask the fact that the Bianconeri look so toothless when playing with a three-man defence.

The reasons often stem from midfield. Miralem Pjanic has thrived in a role behind the strikers in recent weeks, Allegri’s switch to 4-3-1-2 and a more advanced position bringing the best from the former AS Roma man.

As the tweet above from Opta noted, the 3-5-2 is hardly offering defensive stability either but on Sunday it was more out of necessity than choice. The coach was hamstrung by absentees, the injured Dani Alves joined on the sidelines by the suspended Stephan Lichtsteiner.

That meant there was no orthodox right-back available, with Andrea Barzagli’s lack of fitness prompting the change back to a formation that looks increasingly ill-suited to his current squad.

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