I sat around during the entire 15 minutes of halftime trying to think of a way to describe the first half of play. It was far from normal, far from something you’d call textbook or ordinary. You know how it went. A VAR call actually went in Juventus’ favor and resulted in Douglas Costa scoring his first-ever Juventus goal. A goalkeeping blunder almost turned into one of the easiest goals Juve ever scored.
Luckily for me, Juventus was able to take my mind off the unorthodox happenings and shenanigans of the first 45 minutes of play against Lazio on Saturday night.
But not in a good way.
We talked about the fantastic 10-minute spell that Paulo Dybala had against Lazio in the Supercoppa two months ago that allowed Juventus to even have a chance of winning their first trophy of the season back in August. Well, it was the complete opposite of that for Juventus during the first 10 minutes of the second half against Lazio. Not only did Ciro Immbolie carve Juve’s defense apart to tie the game, but then scored on a penalty that might not have actually been worth of a penalty to give Lazio the 2-1 win and end Juventus’ latest run of home dominance.
Not even Dybala and all of his wonderfulness could save Juventus this time.
That’s just how bad it was.
Not only did Simone Inzaghi absolutely school Max Allegri — again — in a Juventus-Lazio matchup, but the overall product was about as bad as we’ve seen this season. We can point to Gonzalo Higuain having a bad miss or Dybala missing a last-second penalty, sure, but Juve should have never been in that kind of position. It should have never come to that, really. If Dybala had scored, it would have been a totally undeserved point, one that surely would have had the entire country of Italy screaming foul play and causing even more VAR-related anger.
(For the record, the penalty on Federico Bernardeschi was certainly a lot more deserved than the one Immobile got earlier in the half.)
There’s none of that, though.
The biggest thing to come out of this is something that we’re starting to learn about this Juventus team, one that has now allowed seven goals in its first eight league games of the season. This team is not only playing far off its potential, but also isn’t nearly the complete kind of product that we’ve seen in previous seasons.
It’s October. There’s still 30 games left on the Serie A schedule. But this team has serious problems that need to be addressed — and fast.
They can’t rely on Dybala to be their only source of goals. They can’t rely on Giorgio Chiellini to be the only consistent defender if this is the current hierarchy of central defenders that Max Allegri is going to go with. They can’t rely on an aging backline to continue its defensive dominance from the previous six seasons because that’s just not how Father Time works.
Juventus are still Scudetto favorites even though they can be four points off the pace if Napoli beats Roma a little later in the day.
But, the thing is, unless Juventus fix their problems, the notion that they’re the best team in Italy and capable of making another deep Champions League run is going to be questioned just a little more and more with every disappointing performance.
And after the disaster of a second half against Lazio on Saturday, it’s not like those problems are suddenly fixed. Not by a long shot.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- I guess Max Allegri didn’t read BWRAO’s recent article on Daniele Rugani.
- I guess Max Allegri didn’t read BWRAO’s recent article on Federico Bernardeschi, either.
- I guess Max Allegri didn’t read BWRAO ... just kidding. That’s all.
- I’m not going to keep beating a dead horse when it comes to not playing Rugani, but it’s becoming more and more apparent that Juventus need to start him at this point. There’s absolutely nothing to disprove the notion that Andrea Barzagli or Medhi Benatia are a better option than Rugani is. The way Immobile darted past Barzagli on the first goal was basically a realization that Rugani is needed now more than ever.
I don’t know what it will take for Allegri to actually play Rugani in a big game, but I’d sure as hell like to hear something other than “Daniele has a great future at this club” or something like that.
- What Allegri is doing over the last month is showing an incredible amount of faith in Rodrigo Bentancur, who can become even more important to this team if the 4-3-3 formation is going to become a real option to go to. With Claudio Marchisio still out injured, it’s Bentancur’s ability to play as a regista that will allow Allegri to bounce between the 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 whenever he so pleases. That’s good because Bentancur continues to be fantastic, too.
- Sami Khedira was back in the starting lineup and back to playing well. That’s a pretty good development on both fronts for Juventus. (Note: This was written at halftime when I was actually in a somewhat good mood.)
- One of the worst things from this loss: It’s the 85th minute, Juventus has the ball in Lazio’s half of the field, and more than just a few players are just standing around while a teammate is on the ball. There was no sense of urgency, no nothing. It was almost like they thought there was still another half of ball to go, not five minutes and then stoppages.
- What has been a huge strength of every one of Juve’s title-winning sides the last six seasons? Defense. What has been one of Juventus’ biggest issues this season? Defense. Juve can overcome tough days in attack when they’re playing well defensively. They’re not playing well defensively right now. Not by any means.
- Another day, another big-time Gonzalo Higuain miss. It’s unfortunately becoming the norm these days, isn’t it?
- Final thought: Dammit, dammit all to hell. That was stupid.