We often talk about Juventus playing three games within the span of eight or nine days and the impact it may have on the squad. The fact that, under normal circumstances and the participation in three competitions is a regular occurrence, the amount of games between each international break means the number of games can go up and up and up in a hurry.
Since Max Allegri became manager, Juve have most certainly played in a whole lot of games. They’ve played in the most amount of Champions League games twice. (We won’t talk about how that final European game went, though.) Even though they’re not in the tournament from the very beginning, they’ve won the Coppa Italia three straight years and about to play for their fourth in a row in a matter of days.
It adds up.
It isn't an excuse but a mere fact.— Arjun Pradeep (@IndianRegista) April 24, 2018
It's a matter of stimulus and levels of motivation. The Coach too made mistakes and lacked an eye for details, which was the difference.
Since 2014/15, Juve have played 215 of 220 possible games in all competitions. This speaks volumes.
Let that sink in for a second. Out of the 220 games Juventus could have possibly played in since the start of the 2014-15 season, they haven’t taken part in just five of them.
Obviously, not every player has played in every game — although I’m sure, if it were up to him, Mario Mandzukic would be in the starting lineup for all 215 of those games and doing his usual business each and every time. (Yes, I know Juve didn’t sign Mandzukic until after the 2015 Champions League final, but just go with me here.)
Players have come and gone over the last four years. Juventus’ roster from the first Champions League final they appeared in under Allegri’s watch looks a lot different than the one at current day. We’ve seen Paulo Dybala come in for Carlos Tevez. We’ve seen Miralem Pjanic try to take the keys from Andrea Pirlo. We’ve seen Stefano Sturaro take over the role as Human Victory Cigar from Simone Padoin.
But a decent number of the names — the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Claudio Marchisio — have been there the entire time.
It all comes back to the same kind of discussion that you have whenever a team is perceived to be at the end of their current cycle. Questions like “How can they keep their motivation up after achieving so much” get raised. Not only can this kind of workload be physically exhausting — and, remember, we’re not even taking into account how many games each respective player has appeared in with their national teams over this span, too — but incredibly taxing on the mental side of things. To be expected to be the top dog each and every round, have so many close and tense European encounters, it isn’t easy.
And yet, most of the time, Juventus have gotten the job done.
We don’t know how this season will end. If it’s anything like Sunday night’s game at Allianz Stadium, it won’t be a happy kind of ending if they play like they did against Napoli again.
But I do know one thing: Not having a midweek game and six days of rest is going to be quite a nice change from what they’ve been dealing with lately.