After years of dominance in Serie A, Juventus are set for their worst season in years. Why has the Old Lady fallen? Read this article by Shyam to find out…
“It’s a collapse. What we saw from Juventus was embarrassing,” Fabio Capello said from his Sky Italia studio after witnessing Juventus’ humiliating 3-0 loss to AC Milan. He wasn’t wrong. The Bianconeri looked tired, uninspired and only threatened in spells with Ronaldo looking isolated throughout the 90 minutes. Performances like these have characterized Juventus’ season.
A tough start to the season under Pirlo was made worse as the squad was plagued with injuries and personality clashes, of course culminating in the harrowing night in Turin where Sérgio Conceição’s Porto claimed a deserved victory, leaving Juve with yet another disappointing Champions League campaign.
Where did it all go wrong?
So where did it all go wrong? We all know success comes in cycles, but nobody expected the fall of the Old Lady to come like this, especially after their domestic domination for close to a decade. To be potentially finishing outside the top 4 is nothing short of a disaster for Agnelli and all associated with the club.
Why has this dramatic fall happened? Well firstly, I think we need to start with the manager. Juventus have often been criticized for not having an identity, but I think it’s clear what they’re supposed to be. A 3-5-2 out of possession and a 4-4-2 with the ball with an XI of energetic counter-pressers who can control possession and play incisive passes between the lines.
Execution, execution, execution
The problem lies with the execution – aimless crossing, predictable passing and speculative long shots have all become a common occurrence during Juventus attacks. With the appointment of Pirlo, one thing that was expected was for him to breathe life back into the midfield. Fluid movement and exchanges accompanied by hard running and tackling, much like the midfield he was such an instrumental part of. However, it’s been anything but.
The lack of ball progression offered by players like Rabiot, Ramsey and Bentancur creates a huge disconnect between the defence and attack which is especially harmful in the games vs other big sides like Inter and Lazio.
However, there’s only so much Pirlo can do with this squad. “We make life difficult for ourselves” is a common remark heard from him in press conferences and it has rung true across the season. From Kulusevski’s back passes against Torino to Bentancur’s inane back pass against Porto, mistakes have dotted the season and done no good for the confidence of the players.
The players have also struggled with momentum, with Federico Chiesa’s electric March being halted by injury and Kulusevski managing only 1 goal in the entirety of 2021. Juventus have failed to fill the gaps left in their squad by major departures and their recruitment has been short-sighted with little to no thought as to how to integrate new players into the squad.
Ultimately, the club that has dominated Serie A for so long and has almost been synonymous with Italian football for the better part of a decade serves as a warning. With big clubs across Europe like Dortmund, Barcelona, Arsenal on the verge of collapse perhaps they are a few lessons to take from this. Don’t appoint an ex-player as a manager if they do not have the proper experience.
Recruitment should be done with the long term health of the squad in mind, not just the near future. And perhaps most important of all – a rebuild, however painful and expensive it may be, should not be put off until you’re left with an unhappy fanbase, ageing players and no trophies.
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