Through the first eight rounds of Serie A play this season, an astonishing 10 teams have had more success away from home than the reigning champions of Italy. That included, I might add, the team that Juventus was facing on Saturday night — Benevento. It’s not only that Juventus are dropping points, but they’re doing so away from home against the kind of competition level where you’d have them favored no matter what coming in.
And what happened as we see the ninth Serie A fixture of the 2020-21 season come and go?
More crappy play. More crappy performances. And more dropped points.
For the fifth time in this still young Serie A season — although we won’t be able to say that for much longer — Juventus dropped points away from home, absolutely sputtering in a 1-1 draw against Benevento on Saturday night. It was the kind of performance — especially in the second half — that we are continuing to see this team have when they’re facing an opponent that packs it in once they have a chance to get a result and there’s nothing that Juve’s talented yet obviously flawed squad can do about it.
They’ve dropped points at the Olimpico against Roma. They’ve dropped points against Crotone and Lazio, too. And now, with this listless performance against Benevento, Juventus’ away form is becoming more about what they aren’t able to do rather than this team making some kind of progress under their first-year manager.
So, if you were hoping for that whole “Juventus can’t do anything without Cristiano Ronaldo” narrative to go away, I’ve got another thing coming for you. Because it ain’t going away.
5 - Juventus have drawn at least five of the first nine league games of the season for the first time since 2001/02 (3 wins, 5 draws and 1 defeat in that case). Slow.#BeneventoJuve pic.twitter.com/0aAV0MAe2W— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) November 28, 2020
But, let’s face it: Juventus needed some kind of spark and it never arrived. We knew it wasn’t going to come from Ronaldo since he was hanging out at his mansion in Turin. But even with Pirlo bringing on somebody with the talent level of a Dejan Kulusevski, nothing changed in the second half. It was about as laborious and bland of a 45 minutes as we’ve seen from this team during the first two-plus months of the 2020-21 season. As Benevento sat back after tying the game right before halftime, Juventus’ attack couldn’t do much at all. Benevento’s adventure of a goalkeeper, Lorenzo Montipo, was rarely called into action. There was no sense of urgency. Juve players were trying to fit passes into windows that weren’t really there. And, as we all witnessed, the biggest names of the field couldn’t really do anything much at all.
That isn’t going to get the job done against Benevento.
It certainly isn’t going to get the job done against the likes of Atalanta, Milan and the like down the road. It won’t get the job against just about anybody if Juventus continue to play like this against teams — provincial or otherwise — both in Serie A and the Champions League.
Remember, Benevento entered this game with one of the worst defenses in the league. And against that defense that has allowed 20 goals through its first eight games, Juventus put all of five shots on target.
I don’t know about you guys, that 2-0 win over Cagliari seems like so long ago. And yet, it was a week ago. I want to hope, I want to be positive about this team because there is some aspects to really like about it. But when they continue to do this against teams they shouldn’t be doing such things, it’s hard not to sit here as I hammer away at the keyboard and feel extremely grumpy and disheartened about it all.
At least Juve’s next game is at home. So we have that going for us.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- They played the same music from the clip of Maradona warming up before the semifinals of the 1989 UEFA Super Cup as the two teams walked out of the tunnel. Very nice touch by the folks running things at Benevento.
- This game was really the microcosm of Paulo Dybala’s season, wasn’t it? He had a couple of REALLY good scoring chances, and with a little more bend on said shots toward goal he might have actually had himself a brace. But this was also the kind of game where you want Dybala, no matter what kind of form he might be in, to really try and put the team on his back and will them to victory. But that didn’t happen. It was a frustrating game once again for Juve’s No. 10. He’s still searching for something positive, and you still get the feeling that he’s not 100 percent right physically. But, at some point, Juve need the true Dybala to show his face again — and that’s especially true as they continue to drop points.
- Maybe that comes next weekend in the first Derby della Mole of the season against Torino because Alvaro Morata got a red card for mouthing off right after the final whistle. Good times.
- In more happy thoughts — you know, when Juventus was actually winning on Saturday — that goal Morata scored was pretty damn nice. He’s on a roll even with the offside bug still hampering him every time he steps on the field.
- That long pass from Federico Chiesa to set up Morata’s goal ... beautiful.
- Guessing this isn’t the kind of performance that will quiet down the Arthur detractors.
- Guessing this isn’t the kind of performance that will quiet down the Pirlo detractors.
- Guessing this isn’t the kind of performance that will quiet down the Juventus detractors.
- Juventus had four accurate crosses the entire game. That’s not from one player. That’s from the entire team. That’s not good. Yet there they were, driving down the wings trying to fire off crosses. They just lacked so many ideas when things got so compact.
- There are some players on this team who are in desperate need of a game or two off simply because they look exhausted out there. Juan Cuadrado comes to mind first and foremost. But with the squad being what it is, you wonder just when those kinds of opportunities will actually come.
- In the first set of games against the newly-promoted sides this season, Juventus has one win and two draws.
- Think about it this way: Juventus actually win the games against the likely relegation battlers in Crotone and Benevento, they’re sitting in a tie for first in the table right now. Throw in the last-second draw against Lazio and they’re all alone in first place with a rookie manager still learning the ropes of this whole coaching thing. It could be so much better with just a couple of things going Juve’s way. (Don’t get me wrong, these draws are so much a case of Juve being its own worst enemy.)
- I have nothing left to say. I need a nap after all of this.