I feel very safe in saying that the Allianz Stadium was fired up for Saturday night’s showdown with Atalanta. It was a sense of anxiousness, sure, but the noise level to start the match was very much something we hadn’t heard a lot of in recent weeks (and months).
The fans in Turin were ready to roll.
Those good, happy and hopeful vibes ... they didn’t last long.
It was, as has become more and more consistent over the last 2 1⁄2 seasons, a night in which Juventus lost on its home field. The Allianz Stadium is no longer the fortress it used to be, and teams come to Turin knowing they have a serious chance to get a result, if not win the whole damn thing. That’s exactly what Atalanta did in this one, with Duvan Zapata’s first-half goal being the difference on the scoreboard in a 1-0 win over Juventus to cap what has been a simply awful week for just about everybody associated with the Bianconeri.
Not even a second half where Juve saw more of the ball as time went on could turn the tide, Not even a near-perfect free kick from Paulo Dybala could salvage at least something from this one and give Juventus a point. It all resulted in Juve now with as many losses (3) as wins in seven home games this season as Atalanta won its first game in Turin in 32 (!!) years.
That’s not how you show that you’re a contender for a top four spot. And this Juventus team, with how it is currently constructed and currently playing, is very much not at the level of some of the other teams in which they are competing with for one of those top four spots.
Whether it’s the tactics that don’t work, players still being played out of position, the misplaced passes that continue to haunt this team no matter where on the field they happen or just the general malaise in which they sometimes play with, Juve continue to be their own worst enemy. This was a game in which they could have gotten a result in, but one mistake, one misplaced pass suddenly turned into a classic Atalanta counterattack and ended up being the game-winning goal.
Sure, the second half was better, but the thing that sticks out in my mind besides all of the almost-chances that didn’t happen because of either a poor pass or the wrong decision, is this:
- Juventus shots taken: 15.
- Juventus shots on goal: 2.
Two shots on goal! OK, so Juan Musso had a couple of really nice saves and Dybala’s stoppage-time free kick clanged off the crossbar, but they simply need to be so much better in the final third. (And just about everywhere else.) Atalanta going forward got you nervous, but did that same thing happen to Atalanta supporters when Juve ventured forward? With the current state of Juventus, I really have no idea.
Maybe on a different day this kind of second-half performance gets Juve three points and the tone of this post is totally different. But with the situation in which Juve finds themselves in, they’re now seven points behind Atalanta in fourth place and looking at a schedule that isn’t slowing down until the middle of next month.
It’s also becoming way too frequent of an occurrence for a team like Juventus.
No wonder those in attendance at Allianz Stadium on Saturday went from extremely loud and wanting to will their favorite team on to becoming extremely grumpy in less than two hours. It’s just one of those days — which, in all honesty, I’m starting to lose track of now.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- The win over Lazio was a week ago. It feels like it was about three months ago.
- Who could have foreseen that Juventus would struggle (in the first half) against a team that loves to press and force its opponents into self-inflicted mistakes? Noooooo, I know I couldn’t have. Nope, never.
- To add insult to injury, Freddie Church went off injured in the second half.
- To add inslut to injury, Weston McKennie went off injured in the second half.
- I don’t know about you guys, but I’m becoming rather tired of seeing a player or two go out injured just when a player or two comes back to training with the squad. It’s just ... yeah. It’s frustrating, it’s disappointing and it’s just another reason why so much has gone wrong. (And there’s a lot of reasons why so much has gone wrong this season ... and last season ... and the one before that.)
- This team loves to play inaccurate passes at the most inopportune time just as much as I love a midnight snack when I know I shouldn’t have something to eat.
- Merih Demiral was absolutely hounding Alvaro Morata for much of this game. Morata worked hard, but you gotta think that the physicality of Demiral was just something that played into Atalanta’s hand.
- Plus, an out-of-form Morata just can only do so much. He’s just all out of sorts right now.
- That Dybala free kick was so close to being just the classic goal from that situation. Just a little bit more dip on it and we’re talking about Juve getting a point out of all this. Instead ...
- This seems like a development of note:
Al triplice fischio di #JuveAtalanta solo 5 giocatori bianconeri vanno sotto la curva: Bonucci, Dybala, Cuadrado, De Ligt e Szczesny— Romeo Agresti (@romeoagresti) November 27, 2021
- Adrien Rabiot — still not a good option on the left side of a 4-4-2! (Even though he was playing more off Manuel Locatelli’s left shoulder with Chiesa on the left wing against Atalanta. Fact still remains.)
- The last couple of games have not been kind to a lot of people, but it’s not encouraging to see Matthijs de Ligt do some of the things he’s done lately. Tuesday night was a struggle, and so were some points against Atalanta as well. As much as there’s so much chaos going around Juventus right now, this squad needs de Ligt to be de Ligt now more than ever.
- Alex Sandro barely completed 80 percent of his passes. Can we please see Luca Pellegrini play on Tuesday against Salernitana? Sandro’s early-season rejuvenation just seems so far in the past even though it’s a couple of months.
- I would like it if Max Allegri played Moise Kean and Kaio Jorge more often. With how out of form Morata is, Max has to trust the youngsters to at least try and give this team a spark because No. 9 just isn’t doing it right now.
- Allegri choosing to go with Federico Bernardeschi with just a couple of training sessions under his belt since coming back from injury to come on for Federico Chiesa just shows you how far on the pecking order Dejan Kulusevski is right now.
- A final thought? Well, not really because it’s just the same old, same old. Hello, darkness my old friend. I wish I could be more enthusiastic about Juventus right now, but this team is making it so damn hard to really get excited about anything at the moment.