There were folks out there, myself included, that figured the return to Serie A opposition meant that things would look more like they had to begin the season. No more tricky Champions League opponents for a couple of games, and some or most of the ills from the Sevilla draw could be just a one-off situation.
Eh, not so fast.
Juventus played like crap for 65 minutes, took the lead via a Stephan Lichtsteiner goal, then handed the lead right over to Inter Milan on goals by Maurio Icardi and Ivan Perisic en route to a 2-1 loss in the Derby d’Italia at the San Siro on Sunday night. It was, especially the go-ahead goal coming via a simply awful Kwadwo Asamoah backpass attempt, about as quick and swift of an implosion we’ve seen from Juventus in quite some time.
If only I could just use poop emojis for the rest of this post...
The same problems that were ever-present against Sevilla in the Champions League opener on Wednesday night unfortunately made the trip over to Milan four days later. Max Allegri again tinkered with his starting lineup and again saw said lineup fail to replicate how well the team played in its 3-1 win over Sassuolo last weekend. The free-flowing and rather beautiful offense that steamrolled Sassuolo in the first half eight days ago hasn’t been seen since. Instead, Juventus has failed to not only replicate that kind of performance over the last 180 or so minutes, but has looked totally out of whack in the process.
The passing has been off. The build-up play has been off. The midfield, which was so good at the beginning of the season, now looks completely disjointed and out of sync.
But the fact is, more aggravating than losing to Inter is just the manner that Juventus went about it. It was the performance that was the tough part of Sunday’s loss, not the result itself. Losses happen, it’s only natural no matter how dominant Juve have been in Serie A over the last four or five years of this title-winning run of theirs. But to play like they have on Wednesday and then again on Sunday, that’s the most frustrating part of it all. That’s mainly because we know they can be so, so much better even with some of the starting lineup being changed.
This is no offense to Max, but we’ve heard that before. And when the same mistakes keep happening over and over again regardless of a Juventus win or loss, then it’s time to address them more than you ever have before. If Allegri isn’t hammering how to defend set pieces into his team’s heads for three hours each day over the next couple of weeks or until they prove they can do it correctly, then I will be seriously disappointed.
So, yeah, that week was pretty bad. Sports are stupid. I hate sports.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Somebody in a foreign league, please, buy Mauro Icardi so he doesn’t have to face Juventus twice a season. Seven goals in eight games against Juve since Icardi joined Inter is getting quite annoying.
- Don’t know if you all have noticed, but Juventus still can’t prevent the opposing team from scoring off a set piece. It’s almost like they’ve had a problem with it in the past and it has yet to be fixed. We should look into this...
- Paulo Dybala better not play against Cagliari on Wednesday. You could really tell that the shot he took to the back within the first minute of the game was lingering around for the majority of the first half. He needs rest in the worst possible way right now. He’s played heavy minutes, obviously more than at the start of last season, and even though Juve need to rebound against a team they should beat far more often than not, keeping Dybala fresh needs to be a point of emphasis with the schedule being so busy these days.
- I know hindsight is 20/20, but with the way Asamoah is playing right now, it sure would have been nice to have Axel Witsel starting in the midfield against Inter.
- Which brings us to Miralem Pjanic, who was one of the stars of the Sassuolo win. This is the first time we’ve seen him as a deep-lying midfielder ... and it didn’t go as well as Allegri probably hoped. The main thing that was tough to watch when it came to Pjanic is that we saw how effective he was when he had the ability to roam all over the midfield and play a more advanced role. On Sunday, instead of that, Pjanic was nowhere near as high up the field as he was last weekend. That takes away from his game and doesn’t allow Juve to fully reap the rewards of his unique skillset. Maybe Allegri will have seen it and Mario Lemina will be back in that spot against Cagliari.
- I sure hope that we get to see Marko Pjaca for more than 10 minutes at a time as the season progresses. (We will, but I’m just grumpy.)
- I feel like Alex Sandro was Juventus’ only good performer against Inter. I might be wrong, I might be rather grumpy, but sandro is pretty much the only player that truly stood out to me.
- All of that media criticism that was hovering over Frank de Boer’s head during the last couple of weeks, that’s about to head right over to the man who he managed against on Sunday. Hope you’re prepared to take some major heat, Max. And I’m not talking about sitting in the sauna after the next training session, either.
- Hi, Claudio Marchisio, we still miss you. Please come back soon.