It doesn't take a seasoned fan to find out that Juventus have been underperforming this season. After a brutal start, it appears Massimiliano Allegri and his men have righted the ship somewhat, but even a simple eye-test can show that the Bianconeri are far from the force that dominated Italy for the last four years.
The table below lists Juventus' opponents so far. With twelve games played, Juve stand in 7th position in the table. The color code is simple - red is a 'bad' result, yellow is 'okay' and green is the 'expected'. A note of caution here - we cannot consider the 'expected' result to be the same as it has been in the previous years, since Juventus are not top of the heap anymore.
Thus, the scale has been graded such that a loss against a team in the top four is an expected result. The expected result against teams between fifth-tenth would be a draw (Juve's current peers), and then anything less than a win against eleventh-twentieth would be yellow (draw) or red (loss).
While this is not a perfect grading system, it does give you an idea of the expected result versus actual performance. You will see that the red games were all bunched at the beginning of the season, when the team was all helter-skelter. A loss at home against a poor Udinese and a draw also at Juventus stadium against newly-promoted Frosinone are disastrous results. Since then, the only 'bad' result has been Sassuolo, a game Juve should have at least drawn.
However, for Juventus to climb up the table, they need to start winning games against teams higher up than them. Out of four games against opposition in the top five (Roma, Napoli, Inter and Sassuolo). Juve have a total of one point from twelve. This is the first thing that needs to change for the Bianconeri to progress, starting with the upcoming game against sixth-placed Milan and then Fiorentina (Lazio too).
Looking forward to the remainder of the first half of the season, using projections based on the same analysis as above, this is how the next seven games may go. Once again, this forecast method only works if there is no drastic improvement to the team's performances and if most other teams continue to basically play like they are now.
The mean position of Juve's opponents in the first twelve games was 10.5, and the team gained an average of 1.5 points per game in those. By the forecast, the next seven opponents are positioned 11th, and Juve should get an average of 1.7 points per game. This would get Juventus to 18 + 12 = 30 points at the halfway mark.
The schedule doesn't necessarily get easier for Juve, with four games against teams in the top ten. However, with matches against bottom teams like Carpi and Verona, as well as Palermo on the horizon, anything less than nine points from these three games would be considered abysmal.
This then takes us into the next part of the analysis - if Juve have 30 points at the midpoint of the season and then end up on 60 points in May, where would that place them in the table come the end of the season?
Below are the Serie A points garnered at the end of the season by the top ten teams in the League, broken up into the first five and the next five. For the sake of comparison, we're looking at four season (four Juventus championships). The number in parentheses after each group is the mean - the object of calculating the mean is to compare seasons, and see if parity exists between those positions across seasons. Finally, we have what position a team ending up with 60 pts would have on the table.
Top 5 teams: 84 80 64 62 61 (70.2)
Next 5 teams: 58 56 56 51 49 (54.0)
60pts gets 6th position
Top 5 teams: 87 78 72 70 66 (74.6)
Next 5 teams: 62 61 56 54 49 (56.4)
60pts gets 8th position
Top 5 teams: 102 85 78 65 60 (78.0)
Next 5 teams: 58 57 57 56 54 (56.4)
60pts gets 5th position
Top 5 teams: 87 70 69 64 63 (70.6)
Next 5 teams: 59 56 55 54 52 (55.2)
60pts gets 6th position
The numbers for the '15-'16 season are through 12 games and then extrapolated for a 38-game season.
Top 5 teams: 27 27 26 25 22 (80.4)
Next 5 teams: 20 18 18 18 16 (57.0)
60pts should get 6th or 7th position at current pace.
The way the data is trending with the mean of the top five places, it would take about 80 points to end up at least third, and in the last of the Champions League spots. Even if Juve were to reel off seven wins on the trot that would only get them to 39 points at the halfway mark, still not quite on track to make the 80 point barrier.
The projections described here are based on prior season data, and as we all know data can be manipulated in many ways. However, you will not need the data to tell you that Juventus are going to be scrapping for Europa League places if they do not drastically improve their performance from the first half of the season immediately, and then continue that improvement when the calendar changes to 2016.
While Juventus recently announced a €16.8 million operating profit for the first quarter of 2015-16, the bulk of the revenue generated is coming in through TV deals and the €85m in commercial revenue the club makes is far, far behind what other European giants are minting (Bayern Munich made €105.2m from merchandising alone). Should Juve only make the Europa League, or even worse, completely fall out of the continental spots, the kick to the bottom line could be of the magnitude that saw Inter fall from the top of the Italian game to the wastelands they are still ploughing a lonely furrow in.
Let's hear your observations, thoughts and anything else in the comments below.