To say there are two ways to look at Juventus’ 2017 Champions League run, which as we know ended in heartbreak against Real Madrid on Tuesday night, would be, of course, reductive. As the old adage goes — my wife hates this one — there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Or perhaps more accurately, there’s more than one perspective from which to view a train wreck.
But what I would posit is that, no matter how you look at it, Juventus overachieved in 2017 — certainly in terms of financial resources, but also in terms of talent. I don’t think this is too hot of a take, thinking about last year. Although I’m not in the business of hot takes, it perhaps would be a slightly spicier varietal to say that Juventus, by reaching the Champions League quarterfinals, have already overachieved.
I’m sure I’ll get berated for that — because I’m “not loyal” or have “no ambition” or who knows all my other Juventus fandom sins, but as I’ve written before, and as is just simple fact, Juventus don’t have the cash to compete with Real Madrid, Barcelona, or Bayern, not to mention a couple of the English sides — who have the draw of the Premier League, where everyone and their cousin Bill wants to play.
Juventus may have a slight financial advantage over Tottenham, but I still think Spurs have more sheer talent on that roster than Juve does. Spurs arguably (let’s not rehash that, though) played better for the vast, vast majority of that tie. And Juve squeaked through.
Now, versus the big boys, the lads just couldn’t get it done. I don’t think there’s anything to fume about, and I think Max Allegri’s takes are pretty spot-on. It’s unrealistic for Juve to reach the Champions League final each year. That doesn’t mean you don’t try, or don’t hope, but to stomp around and threaten to stop following Juventus or something like that — newsflash: nobody cares! — is more than a little melodramatic. We’ve got lots of bros who need to get a grip on things. Let’s take direction from the skipper.
All that said, I think I’m on team “blow it up summer 2018” — it’s just unfortunate the market is what it is. But maybe Paulo Dybala goes on a searing run and Juve can fetch a good handle of cash to get this club going again, because as I (and a lot of us, I think) see it, the current roster is, um, not sustainable. Juve’s starting XI yesterday:
Gigi Buffon: 40 years old
Andrea Barzagli: 36
Giorgio Chiellini: 33
Kwadwo Asamoah: 29
Sami Khedira: 31 (happy birthday, buddy)
Rodrigo Bentancur: 20
Douglas Costa: 27
Paulo Dybala: 24
Alex Sandro: 27
Gonzalo Higuain: 30
Juve’s substitutes aren’t necessarily the next generation, either: Blaise Matuidi (30), Mario Mandzukic (31), and Juan Cuadrado (29).
That’s some old stuff.
A tantalizing collection of titillating tidbits.
- Fino alla fine and all, but yeah we’re screwed and basically have like a 3 percent chance or something.
- Juve played well, but not perfectly or, sorry La Joya, particularly intelligently. I think it’s a bit too much to say Juve were the better side and the scoreline was terribly unjust or anything.
- For a guy who’s annually on the chopping block for Real Madrid, or at least who occupies a position in which the pundits perpetually speculate the arrival of another player, Keylor Navas is an absolute monster. That reaction save was so class. And it may have really, really altered the course of this tie.
- It was a strange game for the Juve forwards . . . who sort of played well? And then did a bunch of really dumb stuff, too?
- This was not fun. Not fun at all.
Onto the awards:
Italian Teenager Gaggle Award
For the unit embodying the following descriptors: incoherent, waste of space, frustrating.
Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli, and Gigi Buffon looked like they were of a completely different generation against Real Madrid . . . which they are!
(Slash Ronaldo is 33 years old! What!)
Yeah, the Juventus center backs sucked. Sure, one of the goals was completely miraculous, but as Danny pointed out it shouldn’t have happened in the first place because WTF were Chiellini and Buffon doing?
Italian Cuisine Award
For the best collective unit, given different strengths.
Hilariously enough, the Juventus midfield was pretty solid. Maybe Pjanic really does just keep Khedira from being a good midfielder. And all along we (i.e. me; I’m an idiot) though the German was done with good footballing.
Like every unit, not perfect, but to play against Modric, Kroos, and Casemiro and hold the flow together so well was pretty impressive.
Juventus, you have my heart.
But damn, dudes! Play better next time!