With Juventus conceding six goals in their last two games, question marks have been raised about Massimiliano Allegri and his side’s ability to deliver the Champions League for the first time in 23 years. In just over two weeks time a clash against La Liga giants Atletico Madrid awaits where the stakes could not be higher. A round of sixteen exit would be a disastrous end to an indifferent campaign for the bianconeri; a campaign in which European success was stressed from day one at Villar Perosa. Despite signing Mr. Champions League himself – Cristiano Ronaldo – the Italian champions look no closer to winning Europe’s elite competition than they were last season. In fact, you could argue their chances at winning it all are lower. If Juventus’ recent woes are anything to go by, it means a squad overhaul is on the horizon.
After whimpering out of the Coppa Italia in embarrassing fashion against Atalanta, Juventus hosted newly-promoted Parma. For the first time since March 2012, the bianconeri lined up without one member of their famous ‘BBC’ trio and fielded a hardly inspiring centre-back partnership of Daniele Rugani and latest acquisition Martin Caceres. Since Mehdi Benatia’s departure, reports have surfaced that the Juventus brass would entrust Rugani with a bigger role moving forward, however, it’s safe to say, the defender failed in his first real test.
Up 3-1 with just over twenty minutes to play, it looked like order had been restored in Turin. Ronaldo was on the scoresheet, Pjanic and Mandzukic were back in the lineup and the team was playing relatively well again. As the football gods would have it, however, Juventus would be rocked back to reality and conceded two quick-fire goals to former Roma star Gervinho, ensuring they would drop points for just the third time this season in league play.
Rugani got himself a goal and had an excellent first half, but the former Empoli defender showed his inexperience with the game on the line and consistently got bullied by the Parma front-line. Without a member of the ‘BBC’ to turn to, the Italian international looked flustered and struggled immensely. Rugani is only 24 and could still improve, however, these hesitant performances have become a regular occurrence from him and should raise some alarms with the Juventus brass.
While his compatriot, Alessio Romagnoli, and him have had completely different career paths, the Milan defender has improved every season and is now the rossoneri’s captain, instilling confidence week in, week out. Juventus would have hoped Rugani would have followed a similar career trajectory. Unfortunately, it has not been the case. As a result, Juventus have reportedly set their sights on Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt in the summer. The Dutchman’s arrival would all but confirm Juventus’ lack of confidence in Rugani.
Other than a porous defence, Juventus’ midfield play has been nothing short of horrific at times this season. With Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey arriving on a bosman transfer, it’s clear that Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici has identified the midfield as a problem area. With Emre Can struggling to adjust to life in Italy and Sami Khedira being, well, Sami Khedira, the Juventus midfield is in dire need of reinforcements.
Juventus would be wise to target another midfielder as other than Pjanic, the bianconeri’s midfielders have been inconsistent. Bentancur has demonstrated glimpses of his brilliance, yet it appears he’s better suited in a substitute role. As for Matuidi, the Frenchman is immense defensively, however, is limited progressing the ball in the final third; something Juventus are currently struggling with. Lyon’s Tanguy Ndombele and Brescia’s Sandro Tonali have been heavily linked in recent times, but Paratici will have to fight off significant interest for the duo.
Without the addition of a world class defender and world class midfielder, this Juventus side will continue to fall just short of European glory and will likely be faced with the same issues against Atletico Madrid later this month. As their ‘BBC’ gets older and their forces begin to wane, Juventus will inevitably have to find someone else to rely on, otherwise they may be in for a rude awakening. All this would suggest a squad overhaul is closer than you think in Turin.
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