Juventus just got taken to school.
They got taken to school by the guy who helped build them back into the best team in Italy. And now, with the Bianconeri’s arch rivals, that same guy who helped build Juventus back up just put a serious dent in any kind of Scudetto hopes that they may still have as we get ready to hit the midway point of the season.
Juve’s second visit to the San Siro in the month of January was far from what we saw less than two weeks ago — both in terms of the result and the performance delivered by Andrea Pirlo’s squad. The teacher, Antonio Conte, most definitely got the better of his pupil, Pirlo, as Inter didn’t just beat Juventus 2-0 on Sunday night — they picked them apart and exposed every single weakness that the reigning Italian champions currently have.
We’ve seen Juve struggle to defend counters, they did against on Sunday.
We’ve seen Juve struggle due to a lack of a creative midfielder for much of the season, and Inter magnified that on Sunday.
We’ve seen Juve struggle against teams that sit back and absorb pressure, essentially daring Juve’s star-studded attack to beat them man for man, and that’s what Inter did to near-perfection on Sunday.
This was a clinic put on by Conte and his Inter squad that had previously dropped points in its last two games. And because of it, Juventus could again be looking a double-digit deficit in Serie A right in the face if AC Milan are victorious against Cagliari on Monday night. (Which, no matter how many players they are missing, you would expect them to win even though this season has been completely unpredictable outside of Juve’s continued roller coaster ways.
This was a bad performance in a game where Juventus needed to show up and play much better than they had been over their last couple of outings. The Juve midfield was a complete no-show — which, against a team like Inter, is always going to cause major problems. The Juve defense, for the most part, was a complete no-show and this final scoreline could have been much, much worse if Inter was anywhere close to being clinical in the first half.
There were holes for Inter to attack everywhere. And even though Conte’s game plan was rather simple after going up 1-0 midway through the first half — most sit back and hammer Juve on the counter — it worked out about as well as he could have hoped. Juve’s attack, one with two players in Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata who have had very good seasons, couldn’t do much of anything against an Inter defense that sometimes is its own worst enemy. There was no Inter implosion. Rather, Juve couldn’t get anything going to begin with — and that’s what made it so tough to try and come back after falling behind in the first half.
Inter dictated this game, not Juventus regardless of what the possession numbers will say.
This was Inter exposing the same kind of flaws that other teams have done all season long. What hurt Juventus on Sunday night wasn’t anything new. Essentially, it was just a good team doing what good teams should do — exploiting the weaknesses of their opponent.
That’s what Inter did, and I hate that I have to praise them so much for how well they played.
And here, all of one game before the midway point of the 2020-21 season arrives, we continue to see that Juventus, the team that was once the gold standard for defense has all of three shutouts all season.
Amen to that. I miss those days. Because this definitely ain’t those days.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Juventus Women’s Derby d’Italia performance on Sunday >>>>>> The Juventus men’s Derby d’Italia performance on Sunday. And it’s not even close. Not one bit.
- Juventus in the first half: 56.4 percent possession, got outshot by Inter 11-3.
- Don’t know about you guys, but that seems pretty ineffective. Possession really doesn’t mean anything at all if you don’t do anything with it. And a lot of the ball possession Juventus had in the first half was incredibly empty possession with not a lot happening.
- I mean, just look who had the most touches in the first half: Danilo (62), Leonardo Bonucci (57) and Giorgio Chiellini (41). That’s not all that great and just a sign of how so much of Juve’s passing in the first half was between the back three.
- Of course Arturo Vidal’s first goal since coming back to Serie A is against Juventus. Of course. That’s the Ex Effect on steroids right there.
- Danilo’s marking on Vidal’s goal ... not great. Same goes for Gianluca Frabotta’s closing out of Nico Barella on the cross. All around, not Juve’s finest defensive moment of the season.
- The amount of space that Barella had to run through on his goal ... good lord.
- If only Juve had a midfielder like Barella.
- Juventus had four shots on target.
- Inter had five shots on target and they were pretty terrible at finishing in the first half.
- I really am asking out of seriousness: Did any Juventus player outside of Wojciech Szczesny and maybe Giorgio Chiellini have a good game? Because I’m having a really tough time thinking of one.
- Turns out, having Gianluca Frabotta going up against an incredibly in-form Archaf Hakimi didn’t turn out to be something that would be in Juve’s favor. Who knew!
- With Adrien Rabiot not playing like the kind of player we saw over the summer during the restart and Rodrigo Bentancur extending this funk that he’s been in all season long, it’s becoming pretty evident that the improvements we thought Juventus were making in the midfield still isn’t good enough. Inter has a functional, logical midfield that works together as a unit. Juve’s midfield is just still trying to find its best pairing or three-man unit. It’s not going to be solved overnight even though Pirlo desperately needs it to.
- Really, I do miss seeing Bentancur play like he did last season.
- I don’t wanna use it as an excuse, but Alvaro Morata looked so far off the player we had seen for much of this season on Sunday night after playing 120 minutes midweek. And not just 120 minutes, but some incredibly physical minutes as well. Oh well.
- There was one team at the San Siro that looked like a Scudetto contender on Sunday night — and it definitely wasn’t the team wearing black and white stripes.
- Juventus’ issues from September are still the issues in mid-January. Some of that is on the coach, some of it is on the players and some of it is on the guys who put this roster together. This has been a collective effort this season, and one that continues to frustrate the living hell out of folks even though we’ve seen these same problems for months now.
- When Ronaldo’s forcing long-distance shots a half-hour in, we shoulda known how this was going to go.