We’ve officially found Juventus’ kryptonite for the 2019-20 season.
It comes in the form of a Simone Inzaghi-coached team that’s absolutely on fire and dress in light blue and white. They’re the kind of team that Juventus simply doesn’t have an answer for, and the opposition where struggling to do much of anything positive has been a constant thing for long stretches of the game. The good kind of suffering has not existed all that much — and that’s mainly because Juve has been chasing Inzaghi’s team for the better part of each game.
And that’s exactly the way it was again on Sunday night.
Just as was the case two weeks ago at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Juventus were completely ineffective in a 3-1 win to Lazio, this time in the 2019 edition of the Italian Super Cup at the king saud University Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Not even Paulo Dybala becoming the Supercoppa’s all-time leading scorer — that would be four goals in four matches, in case you are wondering — could save Juventus from falling to Lazio again thanks in large part to a second-half showing that will be remembered more for what the Italian champions weren’t able to do than what they actually accomplished.
And with that 3-1 loss — the second to Lazio in the matter in 14 days — is how Maurizio Sarri and Juventus go into the holiday break.
It will be one that, surely, will have Juve’s first-year manager searching for some answers and just how he can get this team playing with the kind of substance and style that his teams have historically shown when the second half of the season arrives.
But for as productive as the previous three games were and how they were showing signs that maybe, just maybe, Juventus’ version of Sarrismo was coming through for significant stretches, this was the game where the matchup sucked and Juve couldn’t get their first trophy of the season.
So we ask: Why does Lazio give Juventus so much trouble?
Well, for one, they’re good, and that usually means something even though Juve are the most talented team in all of Italy. But it goes beyond that — and a lot of it has to do with the team that Lazio has put together, the cohesion they have and the job that Inzaghi has done to ensure that this run they’re currently on is sustained.
Oh, and they have the kind of midfield we wish Juventus had.
That has to mean something, right?
But for the second time in the last two weeks we were reminded that Juventus are still very much a work in progress. And it just so happened to be the same team doing the reminding, as Lazio absolutely handled Juventus in every single aspect — especially in the second half as they retook the lead and then prevented Juve from doing much of anything in the final third. And much like Juve’s midweek win over Sampdoria, just because the Bianconeri had the majority of possession, it didn’t add up to much when the final whistle sounded.
So, as we’ve come to find out over the last two weeks, Lazio is officially the boogey team for Juventus this season. In other years it’s been the likes of Palermo or another smaller, mid-table team that doesn’t have to worry about fighting on multiple fronts or anything like that. This season, though, it’s a surprise Scudetto contender that is very much looking like the kind of team that can back up its Coppa Italia win from a year ago and make another deep run.
Better yet, I have an idea ...
Maybe Juventus just shouldn't play Lazio anymore.— BWRAO (@JuventusNation) December 22, 2019
Yeah, let’s go with that.
(Thank God Juventus don’t play Lazio again — at least for now because the later rounds of the Coppa Italia is always an option down the road, you know — until the final days of April because I’m getting kinda tired of 3-1 losses.)
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- When it comes to this season, Inzaghismo > Sarrismo. (I can’t take credit for that.)
I have a good feeling that we all kinda related to Rodrigo Bentancur after he got sent off late in the second half. That seemed like it was purely frustration boiling over after he saw his second yellow card of the game. (A game he played pretty well in for the most part.) I know he probably said a few words he shouldn’t have to the ref — and the fourth official on the sidelines — but he was obviously heated after being sent off and seeing his team play the way they did after halftime.
- A fourth straight start for Merih Demiral and a fourth straight quality performance from the big Turkish defender. As much as the Demiral-Matthijs de Ligt discussions among the ESPN announcers here in the states annoyed me, they also brought up a good point: For all the talk of de Ligt being just 20 years old, Demiral is only 21 and doesn’t turn 22 until early March. Juventus’ defense of the future is in good hands.
- Juventus’ defense of the present, though, I don’t really know what to say about them. The amount of goals that they’re allowing these days continues to be worrisome, and the way they’re going about giving them up might be even worse.
- Alex Sandro has really been quite a liability defensively the last couple of games, huh?
- I think Mattia De Sciglio is still trying to figure out how the heck to stop Joaquin Correa. Talk about a guy being put on skates. Holy crap.
- Gonzalo Higuain touched the ball all of 19 times. He’s looked tired, hasn’t he?
- Thomas Strakosha recorded more saves than Wojciech Szczesny but I think we can safely say the Lazio goalkeeper was far less busy than Tek overall. Shoot, Strakosha’s best save of the game ended up being what led to Dybala’s game-tying goal — and even then he probably could have done a better job when it came to where he tried to parry the ball.
- Dybala and Cristiano Ronaldo combined for 12 of Juve’s 15 shots. Only three of them were on frame. Not great!
- The numbers say Miralem Pjanic played well, but I’m not sure if Miralem Pjanic actually played well. Does that make sense? Because I hope it does.
- So, after that crap showing, Juventus doesn’t have another game until Jan. 6 when they welcome Cagliari to Allianz Stadium. As many folks are saying on Twitter after this game, Juve may be joint-top with Inter in the Serie A standings, but their stranglehold on the league seems to be as much in question as it’s been at any point during this eight-year run of dominance.
- Merry Christmas! Your present is that you only have to wait four months for Juventus to lose 3-1 to Lazio again. Enjoy yourself.