Juventus has one of the biggest payrolls in the game. Juventus has one of the biggest starts in the game on their roster, a player they have invested a whole lot of capital in for the last three seasons. Juventus has a whole lot of other highly paid players on the roster as well.
They have spent to win now. Not later — now.
Yet, with all the money spent, with all of the changes to try and get to European glory for the first time in nearly three decades now, we sit here on March 9, 2021, with the same feeling that we had on Aug. 7, 2020.
Juventus, on its home turf, with no crowd able to be in the stands of the Juventus Stadium as a result of the pandemic, won’t be charging into the Champions League quarterfinals for the second straight season. Instead, it’s the same feeling as last August — pain, with Porto winning the two-legged tie on away goals despite Juventus claiming the 3-2 win in Tuesday night’s second leg. A thrilling game for the neutrals — and those who despise Juve with a deep passion — but a repeat of recent history for this club that has made ending the Champions League drought such a high priority the last three seasons.
But, that goal is not achievable now.
It’s the same old song and dance.
Juventus made one hell of a comeback in the second half. Federico Chiesa was amazing and showed that he can be a player this team can build around going forward into the future. Yet, when they needed one more goal or to have the wall block one last free kick from a decent way out, it didn’t happen. Juventus came close to pulling off the highly unlikely after falling behind 1-0 early on on a questionable penalty call. But, with this team, the self-inflicted wounds prove to be what kills their hopes in the end.
They just can’t avoid it. No matter who’s on the roster, they can’t avoid it.
Say what you want about the refereeing or whatever, but Juventus were put into this situation by how they played in the first leg, the mistakes they made in Portugal and then playing with fire for much of the first half in the second leg. Juve were a completely different team in the second half on Tuesday night as compared to the first half, but that wasn’t enough to save what was a disaster in Portugal and allowing a goal to Porto right off the bat — essentially the one thing they couldn’t let happen.
This was as frustrating as it was thrilling as Chiesa was leading the comeback from 3-1 on aggregate. Porto, to their credit, were incredibly resilient after going down to 10 men, and the way they worked defensively was absolutely impressive all the way. But, as the final whistle sounded, this was another case of Juventus not doing enough to get through to the next round in the Champions League.
(Seriously, against 10 men for so long, that’s what happens?)
This is nothing new for this club, and one has to wonder what’s going to have to happen for the continuous disappointment on the European level to change.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Facts are facts: Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus’ Champions League hero from yesteryear, was not very good in this game. He wasn’t very good in the first leg, either. (Commence the Ronaldo-leaving-Juventus rumors in the Italian press because they’re gonna be kicked into overdrive SOON SOON.)
- It’s hard to not think about what this game would have been like if Alvaro Morata had converted the header he had in the first couple of minutes.
- It’s hard not to think about what this game would have been like if Federico Chiesa had converted the chance that ended up going off the right post from point-blank range.
- It’s hard to not think about what this game would have been like if Juan Cuadrado, in the closing moments, had his left-footed shot go just a few inches lower and not hit off the crossbar.
- Same goes for a controversial penalty being awarded in the first half, too, obviously.
- Cuadrado, a source of frustration in some games he takes the field, delivered some absolutely beautiful crosses in this game, including the aforementioned goal-scoring effort from Morata above.
- The away goal is fun to know about after Chiesa scores his second goal but only until it comes back to bite you in the ass. So it goes. So it freakin’ goes.
- Juventus finished with THIRTY-ONE SHOTS in this game. Thirty-one!
- It wouldn’t be a frustrating and disappointing Juventus result without Morata having a goal called back because he was offside. Them’s the rules.
- Boy, Leonardo Bonucci sure was BIG MAD when he was being subbed off. That facial expression was coming from a man who was not happy with having to come off the field in the middle of his team’s potential comeback.
- According to WhoScored, Cuadrado made TWELVE key passes. Sure, let’s go with it.
- I’m going to be thinking about the setup and execution of that wall on Porto’s final goal for a long time. The execution had me thinking about wall failures of years past, but that one actually benefited Juventus so I was totally OK with it.
- Wojciech Szczesny was just a millisecond too slow getting there, too. But that wall ... WHY.
- This team needs fixing.
- I really want to say more, but my is so scrambled after that game and it’s probably not as routine as it may seem, so I’ll just leave it there.
- Juventus had such a good response in the second that every single thing was there for them to actually pull this rabbit out of their hat and advance to the quarterfinals. God, what an absolute waste.
- There were so many good Chiesa pictures that I could have used in this post if Juventus had advanced. But, they may never see the light of day because Juve instead got bounced in the round of 16 again. Sucks, but this is not a happy post-game picture kind of situation.
- I’m sure the internet isn’t cracking any jokes at Andrea Agnelli’s expense based on how he wants to change the Champions League. Noooooo, nobody would ever pop off about a guy trying to ensure his club is part of the party after getting bounced from it. Nooooo never!
- In conclusion: This sucks. This really, really sucks.