How do you write a monthly review for a month in which most of the team was mentally on vacation, only four games were played, the coach was on the way out, and there was absolutely nothing for the team to play for anymore?
A shorter, less eventful monthly recap accompanies the equally uninspiring month of May. Let’s check it out.
Little ado about nothing
Juventus started the month with the Derby Della Mole against Torino. Given that our neighbors were, at the time of playing, still in the race for a much-coveted top-4 position and accompanying qualification for the group stages of the Champions League, there was still serious business to be dealt with. It was, in fact, a surprisingly competitive game in which Torino took the lead in the 17th minute after Sasa Lukic capitalized on an errant throw-in from João Cancelo, but a Cristiano Ronaldo header rescued a point for Juventus and maintained the team’s unbeaten home run in the Serie A.
The Bianconeri then traveled to another contender for a top-4 spot in the league: AS Roma. In a game in which the visitors dominated possession (and sported the controversial new home kit for the first time) but the hosts were the more threatening side, it looked like we were heading for a goalless draw until Alessandro Florenzi and Edin Dzeko popped up with two goals in the last 10 minutes of the game to condemn Juve to a 2-0 loss.
To complete the trio of games against teams fighting for a place in the top-4, Juventus hosted Coppa Italia runners-up Atalanta in the penultimate game of the season. For the fifth consecutive league game, Juventus fell behind as Josip Ilicic took advantage of confusion in the box caused by a corner kick to put Atalanta in the lead in the 33rd minute. The party was put on hold, however, when Mario Mandzukic slid in for the equalizer through the goalkeeper’s legs from a seemingly impossible angle. The game ended 1-1 and, after a rollercoaster final match day, Atalanta eventually secured third place to bring an extraordinary season to a joyous end.
In the final game of the season away to Sampdoria, Allegri put out something of a B-team. It was not to be, unfortunately, as goals by Gregoire Defrel and Gianluca Caprari (2-0) ended Allegri’s reign as Juventus manager on a sad note and meant that Juve ended the season with a dismal one win in the final seven league games.
Goodbye, old friends
In the emotional final home game of the season, Andrea Barzagli and Massimiliano Allegri officially ended their time at Juventus and bid the fans a heartfelt farewell. Their departure marks the beginning of what promises to be an eventful transition period for Juventus, a transition that I’m simultaneously excited by and terrified of. It’s the end of the line for a handful of Juventus players who have been a part of this historic, record-breaking team for the last few years.
There are rumors galore about who will replace Allegri as Juventus manager. In what seems to be the worst-kept secret in football, Maurizio Sarri will likely be the man to fulfill this role as Mauricio Pochettino is perfectly happy at Tottenham Hotspur and Pep Guardiola continues to enjoy what seems to be complete operational control of every facet of Manchester City Football Club.
Then there are the discussions about outgoing and incoming players. As we all know, Juventus faces a multitude of problems in midfield, while its defense slowly but surely ages into
oblivion retirement (or suffers from a never-ending flurry injuries). There is also some discomfort among Juventini as a result of the Paulo Dybala situation: Will he stay or will he go? Is Juventus the right place for him to fulfill his extraordinary potential or will he need to go elsewhere to do this?
So many questions, so few answers. Depending on your perspective, it promises to be either an exciting summer of fantacalcio or a nerve-wracking one of stress and anxiety.
Here we go!
A summer festival of football
This season has made me more jaded and disillusioned about football than ever before. Thankfully though, I tend to find a surprising amount of solace in international football. If you feel the same way I do and are looking for something to lift your spirits, look no further than the summer festival of football in store for us in the coming months:
- Under-20 World Cup in Poland: 23 May till 15 June;
- Women’s World Cup in France: 7 June till 7 July;
- Copa América in Brazil: 14 June till 7 July;
- Gold Cup in the United States, Costa Rica, and Jamaica: 15 June till 7 July;
- Under-21 European Championships in Italy and San Marino: 16 June till 30 June;
- African Cup of Nations in Egypt: 21 June till 19 July ;
- Under-19 European Championships in Armenia: 14-27 July;
- And for the tennis fans: Roland Garros (26 May till 9 June) and Wimbledon (1-14 July).
So as we prepare for what promises to be a summer of massive transition at both the management and player level, don’t forget that there’s plenty of action to enjoy on the pitch as well.
Because as the cringe-worthy song goes, the summer is magic.