Mo Salah, Mo stupid problems for Juventus.
There were, in fact, a whole lot of problems for Max Allegri's squad after Thursday night's 2-1 loss to Fiorentina in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semifinals. Juventus played as poorly as they have in weeks in front of their hometown crowd. A sold-out Juventus Stadium saw their team slog and stumble through mental and physical mistakes against a Fiorentina side that was pretty damn good to boot.
This was, in essence, the perfect storm for Fiorentina.
Yes, Juventus tied the game midway through the first half thanks to Fernando Llorente scoring a classic Fernando Llorente kind of goal, but when you have strikers making 70-yard runs and your team playing extremely well at easily one of the hardest stadiums in Italy to play in. This was Fiorentina at close to its best and Juventus close to its worst this season. I really don't care that Juventus had more possession and just as many shots on target as Fiorentina.
Thursday night's first leg was just ... yuck. There, one word to describe it.
.@OfficialAllegri: "This result needs to make us sit up and take notice ahead of our next fixtures. Now for an important game with Sassuolo"— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) March 5, 2015
For a team that looked both mentally and physically tired against Fiorentina, things aren't getting any easier. It's not like the schedule is going to be in any sort of a forgiving mood over the next couple of weeks before the international break arrives later this month. The team needs legit rest and time off. Can they actually get it, though? They've played three incredibly tough games in the span of about 10 days. That's a lot to ask of any club no matter how good they are.
Can Juventus rebound right away when it is desperately needed? Sure, but this is a team whose flaws are becoming more and more apparent as the weeks go by in the calendar year of 2015. The defense is looking even more disorganized and prone to mistakes, the midfield isn't so dominant as it once was not so long ago, and just the overall quality of play leaves a whole lot to desired.
Maybe the loss to Fiorentina will wake the team up and snap them out of whatever is preventing them from reaching their potential. An extremely disappointing loss has done so once before, hopefully it can do it again. And preferably before the trip to Germany for the second leg against Borussia Dortmund. That would be nice, wouldn't it?
Random thoughts and observations
- Simone Padoin is going to have nightmares of Mohamed Salah running at — and past — him for years to come. Salah was flying down the field in warp speed while Padoin was just trying to keep up as much as he could. The end result was exactly what you would expect to see — Padoin getting burned and Salah opening the scoring for Fiorentina.
- Kingsley Coman took one hell of a nasty tackle to his right foot/ankle and never recovered from it. If you want to go ahead and criticize him for how he played in the limited amount of time he was full strength, go right ahead. But then you'd just be taking things completely out of context.
- I had no problem with Max Allegri going with a 4-3-3 or that he chose to rotate as much of the squad as he did. Juventus just wasn't able to generate any kind of answer to Fiorentina after they took a 2-1 lead. Oh, there were chances to score, but the finishing was, well, not very good at all.
- I believe Allegri really does want to get Juventus to the Coppa Italia final, but until they actually play well en route to that, the notion that the club doesn't hold the tournament in very high regard will continue to be there. That's just the nature of the beast.
- That mistake by Claudio Marchisio on Salah's second goal, that's just one of the most un-Marchisio-like mistakes you'll see. And Salah did what he should do — jump all over the mistake and grab a goal.
- That's all I got. Uninspired Juventus has left me with nothing left to say. May the personal Padoin winning streak be remembered as something wonderful.
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