With the league just about wrapped up, Juventus travelled to Madrid with massive expectations on their shoulders. Crash out of the Champions League, and their season is effectively over. Despite the magnitude of the clash, the bianconeri looked a broken side at the Wanda Metropolitano and allowed Atletico Madrid to dominate from start to finish. Armed with Cristiano Ronaldo, this season was supposed to be different for the Italian giants and yet, Juventus arguably put in their worst European performance in six years.
While many of their stars frankly didn’t show up, Massimiliano Allegri will have to shoulder much of the blame for Juve’s most recent European embarrassment. With the score tied at zero, and still all to play for, Diego Simeone acted proactively bringing on Thomas Lemar, Alvaro Morata, and Angel Correa, essentially giving his side the extra push they needed to claim the victory.
Allegri, by contrast, acted timidly both with his starting lineup and in-game substitutions, keeping Joao Cancelo on the bench in favour of Mattia De Sciglio and only introduced Federico Bernardeschi by the time it was too late. Meanwhile, the former Milan tactician had Dybala operating from the right, as if he was a natural winger. Naturally, what transpired throughout the ninety minutes was an unmitigated disaster, culminating in a heavy defeat, which if we’re being honest, could have been much, much worse for Allegri. He’ll will be thanking VAR and Diego Costa.
Much like it was the case against Real Madrid in Cardiff, Allegri went the cautious route and waited too long before it blew up in his face. What is more frustrating from Allegri is that we’re five years into his Juventus tenure, and the bianconeri still don’t play with a distinct philosophy in mind. In years past, the Italian giants were able to fall back on the BBC or their immense midfield, however, this time around, neither are what they used to be. Bonucci has regressed significantly since his first stint with the club, and Juventus’ midfield is genuinely laughable at the top level.
Even if Juventus pull off the impossible and net three past Atletico without conceding in the return leg, Allegri has proven time and time again on the biggest stage, he doesn’t have the personality to lead the bianconeri to European glory. When it’s mattered, Allegri’s been outclassed by Luis Enrique, Zidenine Zidane (twice) and Diego Simeone – and they’ve done it with relative ease, too. While he’s won countless domestic doubles, the Juventus boss has demonstrated he’s incapable of taking this team to the next step and has regularly shown he will not alter his ways.
Stubborn in his ways, Allegri’s refusal to depart from his pragmatism will inevitably cost him the Juventus job and will have the bianconeri faithful waiting another year before having another crack at Europe’s elite competition. Barring an unlikely feat in Turin on March 12, Juventus will find themselves in a position they unfortunately know all too well: Out of Europe and asking themselves where it all went wrong.
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