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Juventus 1 - Porto 2: Initial reaction and random observations

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What an awful, awful way to spend two hours.

FBL-EUR-C1-PORTO-JUVENTUS Photo by MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP via Getty Images

You know what I wasn’t looking forward to on this day? Having that sinking feeling in my stomach a couple of minutes in, joined by a little bit of heartburn and Juventus-related anger surging through my body because, as much as we might be used to this in the Champions League as a fanbase, sometimes the hope of change takes over a little bit more of the day’s thoughts no matter what has happened in the past.

Then, 63 seconds into Juve’s trip to Porto ... yeah.

Juventus didn’t just crap the bed right out of the chute in Wednesday night’s 2-1 loss to Porto at the Estadio Dragao. It was self-inflicted pain to the highest degree thanks to Rodrigo Bentancur’s giveaway of all giveaways right at the top of the penalty area all of one minute and change into the game. But when you compare allowing a goal 63 seconds into a half to 19 seconds into the second half like Juventus did, it just shows you that this team, no matter how much a recent unbeaten run tried to change our opinion of them, are still very much a mixed bag and a complete guessing game no matter what competition they are competing in.

This was an absolute dumpster fire. There’s no other way around it. If the bosses at SB Nation were cool with me simply uploading a dumpster fire gif and placing it in this post to represent how Juventus played on Wednesday night, I woulda been totally OK with it. Nobody wants to write over 1,000 words about the Juventus game that we just watched.

And it started about as poorly as it could have.

There is no defending the mistake that Bentancur made. There really isn’t. If you want a microcosm of how his season has gone — and how far his stock has fallen from around this time 12 months ago — just go ahead and watch a replay of how the game started for Juventus. Careless on the ball, careless with a pass, Porto takes full advantage of Juventus being its own worst enemy once again — this is a story all too familiar to us right now.

Say what you want about allowing a goal in that fashion one minute into the game affected things. But it’s not like Juventus, who once again dominated possession against their opponent yet didn’t do a whole lot with it when it comes to creating offense until Adrien Rabiot and Federico Chiesa combined to give Juve at least some sort of lifeline with an away goal.

This was, even with an away goal now in their back pocket, just a straight up bad performance. Juve will get heat for how they played from the Italian media, and it will be completely deserved. The away goal they now have was not deserved, and Andrea Pirlo will have to get EVERYTHING right if he wants to be managing in the Champions League quarterfinals in his first try to get there as a manager.

It’s just ... so very tiresome that this the kind of thing that keeps happening to this club in the Champions League. It’s very tiresome that Juve’s players continue to be the kind of source of frustration that they’ve shown this season. As much as Juventus keeps us guessing because we don’t know which version of Pirlo’s squad will show up any given game day, at some point they’re going to have to figure all of this out before it’s too late.

And, just like after the first leg in Lyon last season, Juventus heads home to Turin knowing they have to do a whooooooooole lot better than the first leg if they want to avoid a disastrous elimination from the Champions League — for more ways than one — yet again this year.

The more 2021 goes on, the more it is still resembling 2020. Ain’t that fun.

RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS

  • What an incredibly stupid game.
  • And a game that started absurdly ends with the referees not even looking at a potential penalty after Cristiano Ronaldo was brought down in the box right before the final whistle. Just a couple of bookends of absolute stupidity.
  • That shouldn’t take away from the fact of how bad Juve were in this game. Because they were BAD BAD.
  • This happened:
  • What also happened was Matthijs de Ligt clearly playing through something that didn’t seem all that pleasant in the final minutes of the game. A quick shot of him right before a Porto throw-in only confirmed just that, and hopefully it’s nothing serious because I don’t even want to think about what Juve’s defense will be like without de Ligt and Chiellini for any kind of extended period of time.
  • That’s right, folks. Lost in this terrible performance is that Chiellini had to come off injured after all of about 35 minutes because we can’t have nice things. In this case, it’s Chiellini staying healthy for over a month when he’s getting consistent playing time. Just when you’re truly happy that Chiellini is back, playing well and contributing more often than not, he gets injured. That’s just how things worked.
  • Only three Juve players completed over 90 percent of their passes. I don’t know about you guys, but that’s not exactly a recipe for success if you want to try and beat Porto the way that Juventus tried to beat Porto on Wednesday night.
  • Wojciech Szczesny had more touches than Cristiano Ronaldo for pretty much all of the first half. That’s not what you want to hear when you’re chasing the lead.
  • The Dejan Kulusevski as a striker experiment isn’t exactly going well right now. I love the kid and he’s obviously talented as hell, but it’s hard not to think about what Alvaro Morata starting this game might have been able to do no matter how things started. (UPDATE: According to Pirlo after the game, Morata hasn’t been feeling well the last few days, thus the reason why he wasn’t able to start the match. Now it makes sense.)
  • Good god did Juve miss Juan Cuadrado and Arthur in this game. Probably the same can be said for Leonardo Bonucci’s ability to play long passes out of the back with how Pirlo set things up.
  • I really have nothing else to say here and I’ve reached the point where if I say anything else it would just be trying to rack up and make my word count look good. So, I will just end things here and go on with my day because that is certainly going to be an improvement over what we just watched. That was bad, very bad, and Juve’s chances of going through to the Champions League quarterfinals will look rather bad unless they solve some serious issues between now and then.
  • Or, you know, they get another Ronaldo superhuman performance like against Atletico Madrid a couple of years ago, which is always possible despite how flawed this team is.