Not even a Juventus defender having his head wrapped in bandages could save the Bianconeri on Wednesday night.
Juventus’ return to Champions League play looked a lot like Juventus’ form over the course of the last couple of months. Hell, it could have looked like the entire season when you think about it a little bit more. Juve looked relatively solid — while not spectacular — for the opening parts of the game ... and then everything pretty much went to hell. One defensive breakdown and a whole lot of possession without much end result later and Juve’s heading home knowing that it will have to pull another comeback job in the Champions League Round of 16 thanks to Wednesday night’s 1-0 loss to Lyon.
Basically, the same Juve we’ve seen pretty much all season showed its face again.
It’s not a pretty face.
It’s not even a handsome face like Paulo Dybala or Claudio Marchisio.
It’s a bad, bad sight. But one that we’ve become incredibly familiar with regardless of how the players feel about the season’s developments or what Maurizio Sarri says about the progression within the squad or the project he’s in charge of in general.
Fact is, Juventus looked like the incredibly flawed team we know them to be from about the 20-minute mark onward. And even before that it was not like the Italian champions were peppering Anthony Lopes’ goal like it was going out of style.
Actually, they didn’t pepper the Lyon goal — at all.
0 - Juventus have not made a shot on target against Lyon: in the Champions League, since 2004/05, it is only the third time that the Bianconeri have failed to do it (vs Atletico in 2014 and vs Arsenal in 2006 ). Off. #OLJuve— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) February 26, 2020
A team with Cristiano Ronaldo on fantastic form, Paulo Dybala having a very good season overall and, in the latter stages, Gonzalo Higuain in the center of the attack didn’t put one single shot on target against a side sitting in seventh place in Ligue 1. There were close calls, sure, but to not even trouble Lopes in goal is maybe as big of a crime as it is thinking that this team can compete for the Champions League trophy with the kind of squad with clear issues as this one has.
Maybe it makes sense that Sarri has kept saying recently that winning the Champions League is a dream.
Because, with performances like these, Juventus will only be winning the Champions League in their dreams, not actually lifting it like we all want them to during this Ronaldo-centric window that might not be open for very long. Not now, not with the way they’re playing, not the way that they’re built and not with how they look to be the same kind of team they were in October as we get ready to head into March.
As we saw Wednesday, all it takes is one mistake — and Matthijs de Ligt getting his head all bloodied up moments before — for Juventus to be right back in the position we’ve seen them in so many times before the last few months.
At this point, it’s looking more and more like this is just what this team is and there’s nothing Sarri can really do about it at this point. Right now, I’m not wishing for Sarrismo or anything close to it. I just want Juventus to look like a competent team once again.
But even then, with what we’re seeing week after week, that might be too much to ask.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- I know it’s not a relatively new development this season, but only seeing Juventus with one Italian in the starting lineup against Lyon just felt ... strange.
- Lyon barely did anything on the offensive end of the field in the opening 20 minutes of the game. They still ended up outshooting Juventus 10-4 in the first half. That just shows you how quick it turned from relatively even and uneventful to a complete mess for Juventus.
- Both of Juventus’ fullbacks got absolutely COOKED on Lyon’s opening goal.
- I mean, this was Alex Sandro’s idea of marking his man on the goal:
Not great, huh?
- It’s almost like Manchester City was more than happy to get rid of Danilo even though the guy they were getting in return, Joao Cancelo, is a sub-par defender at best. Makes you think.
- Ok, be honest: Who’s worried about Miralem Pjanic now? His form is baaaaaaaaad, man.
- I am writing this sentence in the 68th minute and Juventus, down 1-0 and away from home, is showing absolutely no kind of sense of urgency at all. That’s pretty much all you need to know about how this game has gone so far.
- I spotlighted Juan Cuadrado in the match preview as a potential difference maker for Juventus. That spotlight turned out to be a total bust and I apologize for that.
- I wouldn’t mind Houssem Aouar in a Juventus jersey.
- All three of Maurizio Sarri’s subs made sense. The problem was those subs were either made later than they actually happened or the player that came on just ended up doing absolutely nothing noteworthy while on the field.
- Juventus’ midfield: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
- Juventus in the Champions League: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
- A tweet from an American football account wanted followers asked to write a sad football story in three words. I can think of a sad football tweet that involves Juventus and the Champions League, but it might not be three words. (Although, “Juventus vs. Lyon” might be a decent qualifier based on what we saw Wednesday night.)
- In conclusion, meh.