Cuadrado finds room to run in Allegri's attacking formation
ABS-CBN Sports on Jun 01, 2017 10:02 AM
FILE - In this Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016 file photo Juventus' Juan Cuadrado celebrates after scoring during a Serie A soccer match between Frosinone and Juventus, at Frosinone's Comunale stadium, Italy. If there's one player who has benefitted most from coach Massimiliano Allegri's daring five-forward formation at Juventus, it's winger Juan Cuadrado. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca, file)
ANDREW DAMPF, AP Sports Writer
ROME (AP) — If there's one player who has benefited directly from coach Massimiliano Allegri's daring five-forward formation at Juventus, it's winger Juan Cuadrado.
After rejoining Juventus on loan from Chelsea at the start of the season, the speedy Colombia winger was given room to show off his attacking skills when Allegri deployed his 4-2-3-1 formation in January.
The system puts forward Miralem Pjanic in a deeper midfield role alongside Sami Khedira, with Cuadrado, Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic sitting just behind Gonzalo Higuain — utilizing all five attackers.
In early February, Cuadrado scored his first league goal in nine months in a 1-0 "Derby d'Italia" win over Inter Milan.
"Since the formation was changed I've had more space and I've played a lot and had some great matches," Cuadrado said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "But we're not sure yet which formation we'll use for this match."
Against Real Madrid in the Champions League final on Saturday in Cardiff, Wales, Allegri may use a slightly more defensive lineup with Andrea Barzagli at right back and the in-form Dani Alves on the right wing where Cuadrado often lines up.
Still, Cuadrado is preparing for what could be the biggest match of his career.
"It's always tough to face these types of squads which are so strong and are used to playing in these kinds of matches," Cuadrado said from his home in Turin. "But we realize we have a great squad and we're going there to play them face to face."
Whether it's Alves or Cuadrado, Madrid's veteran left back Marcelo will be waiting in defense.
"I don't have to name names," Cuadrado said of Madrid's defense. "They're such a strong squad that they're all great players."
Cuadrado said he and Alex Sandro are Juve's quickest players.
Colombia teammate James Rodriguez has been an option off the bench for Madrid.
"It's great for Colombia to have two players in the final," Cuadrado said in an interview arranged through his sponsor, Herbalife Nutrition. "We're friends and we always try to stay in contact."
Cuadrado's friends call him "Panita" — Spanish for "buddy" — and many of his Colombia teammates are planning to take part in a charity match for his children's foundation on June 24 in Medellin.
The match is titled "Cuadrado vs. Pogba" and will also be headlined by Paul Pogba, the current Manchester United player and a former teammate of Cuadrado's at Juventus.
Earlier this month when Juventus clinched a record sixth straight Serie A title, Cuadrado's move to Juventus became permanent.
His second loan in two seasons from Chelsea required Juventus to purchase his full rights if it won Serie A. So Juventus announced 10 days ago that it was paying Chelsea the required 20 million euros ($22.5 million) and signed Cuadrado to a contract for the next three seasons.
"I'm happy to be a part of this family," Cuadrado said. "I hope to stay here for a long time."
Having just turned 29, Cuadrado also plans to continue playing for Colombia for a long time.
While many standout players step down from their national teams after they hit 30, Cuadrado is in for the long haul.
"I'll play," he said, "as long as I'm able to."
Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf