After a relatively comfortable win against Valencia, Juventus booked their ticket to the round of sixteen of the Champions League and look like good value for money to top their group. However, their performance on the night, especially in the final third, left a lot to be desired as the bianconeri struggled to break down their Spanish counterparts and were typically lethargic. While Massimiliano Allegri’s side exhibited complete control throughout the ninety minutes, outside of Diakhaby’s header on the stroke of half-time, Juventus’ play still had fans asking for more. With a star-studded attack spearheaded by Ronaldo and Dybala backed by an all-star bench, this is a reasonable expectation.
It’s gotten to a point where it’s no longer a question of talent for Juventus, but rather one of belief. The Italian champions have enough quality in their ranks to go toe-to-toe with any opponent, yet consistently fail to impose themselves on games outside familiar confines. In the buildup to this game, Juventus boss Allegri was asked about his favourite to win it all.
Naturally, one would expect a manager to pick his own team, especially considering the current climate in Turin. Since Ronaldo has signed, the message from the top brass has been clear and consistent: Irrespective of domestic success, winning the Champions League is the ultimate objective – at all costs.
When you think about it, it’s not exactly an unrealistic aim. After all, the team has one of the best defences in the world, if not the best, and possesses arguably the most decisive forward in the game. Factor in Bayern Munich’s and Real Madrid’s respective struggles this season, and you quickly realize Juventus have what it takes to win it all. If there was ever a year to pick yourself as a favourite, this is the year, and yet Allegri still downplays his side’s chances.
“Barcelona is the favourite. It is too easy to say Manchester City or Juventus, we are right behind them in my mind,” said Allegri in the press conference leading up to the game against Valencia.
Not exactly the most inspiring vote of confidence from the gaffer, is it? This subdued mentality has inevitably seeped into the side and has undoubtedly affected how the bianconeri approach games. Juventus’ performance against Valencia pretty much echoed Allegri’s sentiments, as they struggled to dictate a rhythm despite clearly being the superior side. The same could be said in their wholly avoidable loss against Manchester United.
After dominating Mourinho’s men for the better part of the game, Juve conceded two quick-fire goals and needlessly put the top spot in doubt. Once again, the Turin-based giants lowered themselves to their opponent’s level and were content to sit on a lead instead of going for the jugular – a persistent problem since Allegri’s assumed the reins at the club.
One would argue Juventus need a new manager to fully take advantage of the club’s talent – one who will not be afraid to go for the kill-shot in these types of games. Considering their roster, there’s no reason Juve should sit back as much as they do. Rumour has it Zidane might be looking for a job with Juve opening up as a tasty destination for the former player. Should Allegri fail to get the job done this season, it’s time to move on.
While it would be nice for Juve to consistently display their dominance in Europe, it’s not as easy a flicking a switch as some seem to think. Up until there is a distinct paradigm shift at the club – which likely won’t include Allegri – performances like tonight will keep occurring and Juve will keep falling at the last hurdle in Europe’s elite competition.
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