There comes a point where Juventus' struggles in the Champions League — group stage or elsewhere — can't be simply categorized as bad luck. And it's safe to say after their 1-0 loss in Greece to Olympiacos, we've reached that point.
Was Roberto simply fantastic between the sticks? Yes. Was Olympiacos very good in the first half? Yes. DId Juventus play better in the second half? Yes, of course they did.
But when push comes to shove, there's just one overlying problem in a game that had plenty of issues for Max Allegri's squad: Juventus didn't win away from home in the Champions League once again, making it five out of the six games away from Juventus Stadium that they've failed to come home with at least one point.
We can play the "What if..." game all we want right now. But what we truly know is what we saw take place Wednesday night. That's Juventus coming out slow in a Champions League game — again. And Juventus paying for it — again. The first 45 minutes were as drab as drab can be. Juve looked just completely out of their element. Their attack was bland, their defense was almost chasing Olympiacos players around as they burst forward on the counter.
Juventus authors of their own demise in CL - persist in starting games far too slowly. But they have run into some ridiculous GK displays— Paolo Bandini (@Paolo_Bandini) October 22, 2014
Shot after shot after shot and absolutely nothing. Roberto was insanely good — continuing the notion that there is an unwritten rule saying goalkeepers must have the game of their life when they play Juventus. It indeed was a Buffon-esque kind of game for the Spanish shotstopper.
But Juventus should have done better. Why? Because they had plenty of chances to.
Something has to change. Be it mentality, tactics, personnel in the starting lineup, whatever. The group stage is only at the halfway point, so there's still time to turn this thing around. But with two of the final group stage games at Juventus Stadium, this team has to take advantage of the schedule being in their favor and get max points. And they have to do it now. No excuses.
#Buffon: "If we played like we did in the second half the whole way through, the final outcome would have been different." #OlympiacosJuve— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) October 22, 2014
I'm not yelling at you, Gigi, but PLEASE PLAY LIKE THAT TO BEGIN THE GAME, PEOPLE.
Random thoughts and observations
- When was the last time Gianluigi Buffon had to make four saves in the first 13 minutes of a match?
- Outside of not scoring a goal, I think it's safe to say Álvaro Morata's first Juventus start was a widely successful one. He was easily Juventus' most dangerous player. He helped create chances for himself, he set up chances for his teammates. He was really good. If he were to start over the weekend against Palermo, I would be totally okay with it.
- Is it really that difficult to start a game with the same urgency as the way Juventus finished it? Seriously, you start a game so slow, you're bound to get punished. Guess what? Juventus did.
- We can argue all day and night about 3-5-2 vs. 4-3-3/4-3-1-2/4-whatever-whatever, but this game really showed how ineffective Juventus' offense is when there's absolutely nothing — in this case Stephan Lichtsteiner and Kwadwo Asamoah — coming from the wings. Something has to change.
- Eighteen shots, no goals. I'll just leave it at that.
- I was in favor of starting Claudio Marchisio over Andrea Pirlo, but obviously Max Allegri had different ideas. Before the former replaced the latter in the 56th minute, it was an absolute fall-flat-on-your-face kind of game for Pirlo. Passes were off, he looked a step or two behind the Olympiacos counterattack, and his dispossession led to the game's only goal in the first half. Just another bad night for a player who hasn't even been close to his best since returning from injury a few weeks ago.
- Speaking of players who didn't have a good night, you can include Arturo Vidal in that group. He's there, he's running around like he usually does, but he's just lacking that typical Vidal bite on both ends of the field. A lot like Fernando Llorente, he's just not playing well at all right now.
- How vulnerable did Juventus' defense look when Olympiacos broke on the counterattack? We bemoan the formation and lack of creativity in the attack, and that's understandable at this point. But Juventus' defense has looked more and more shaky in Europe as time goes on. Luckily for them, they only gave up one goal, not two or three like could have happened if not for Buffon.
- Thanks for not winning on my birthday, Juventus.
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