I don’t believe in broadcasters being jinxes. There is no direct correlation between what is being said in the announcing booth (or in these pandemic times hundreds of thousands of miles away in some random ESPN studio) and then what happens out on the field.
But, when you hear the announcers starting to talk about a scoreless draw knowing full well one of the teams playing in the game they were calling was Atalanta, I just had a sinking feeling start to creep into my head.
And then Ruslan Malinovskiy happened.
In a game where Atalanta’s bench flexed its muscle and their veteran head coach got the better of the rookie that he was up against, Juventus, with its leading scorer sitting back in Turin after getting injured last weekend, again showed that this is the season where their status in the top four is anything but certain. A lively game that was end to end for much of the opening 45 minutes turned into a grind-it-out type of situation after halftime. So, when those types of things happen and you have a squad like Atalanta that has plenty of late-game heroics under its belt the last couple of years, Juventus was left to walk off the field in the same kind of manner as they have a lot of times this season, with Malinovskiy’s deflected shot off Alex Sandro being the difference in a 1-0 win over the Italian champions.
Another loss. And not just that, but another disappointing loss in a game where Juve could have gotten at least a point. It’s the same old song and dance once again, the kind of recap we’ve gotten used to over and over again this season.
Call it being unlucky or just not being very good, but this is a Juventus team that just doesn’t get the breaks that has gone its way in years past. Maybe in years past they’re the ones getting the deflected shot going in to grab a 1-0 win in a game where they’ve battled for 80-something minutes and look all but certain to get a draw. Maybe in years past they’re the ones who have all these wonderful options off the bench where you can take off damn good players like Atalanta did and replace them with just as dangerous attacking threats.
Not this year.
This isn’t the season where Juve get breaks.
This is the season where Juve has anything close to a winning streak.
On the same day when talk of a European Super League looks more and more likely to happen, Juventus look as far away from being a competitive squad on the big stage than they have in a decade. Last week was pretty enjoyable, with a couple of wins and both of them secured in relatively solid fashion.
Then you get to one of your biggest games remaining and just when it looks like you’re going to get a point, you give a dude who has one of the biggest reputations in Serie A for letting it fly from distance breathing room and he does what he’s known for. Sure, the deflection off Alex Sandro sucked and we don’t know for sure if Wojciech Szczesny would have even had a difficult save to make if there was no deflection, but the initial problem was that there was a chance to begin with knowing full well there was so little time remaining.
And thus the circle comes back to Juve, in time when it needs to buckle down to secure at least a point, shoots itself in the foot and lets Atalanta snatch (a deserved) win away from them.
One step forward, two steps back.
That is the story of Juventus’ 2020-21 season. Just when you think things might look even the slightest bit better, something like this goes out and happens.
It’s frustrating as all hell. And I, for one, am getting pretty tired of seeing this team end up being its own worst enemy and there simply being no solution for what has been an issue for months now. This Juventus team hasn’t figured out how to solve its issues, and when teams are able to make you pay in the dying minutes for a simple breakdown in marking, then you deserve what you get.
We are now going to go into the final weekend of April with Juventus still not able to put more than a three-game winning streak together against Serie A opposition. And you know what? With how this season has gone and how inconsistent this team is when it comes to picking up points, it shouldn’t be a shock to anybody at this point.
I’m sick and tired of a lot of things lately, but seeing Juve drop points in games they had a legitimate chance of winning is getting closer and closer to being at the top of the list.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- I’ve said it once and I will say it again: If you want to root for a Juventus team that brings you consistent joy and happiness as they storm toward another title, you should follow the Juve women because they’re good and don’t do stupid things.
- Of course Atalanta’s goal comes all of seconds after Wojciech Szczesny makes one of his best and most important saves of the season. That’s just how this season has gone. He didn’t deserve that.
- Prayer circle for Federico Chiesa. I am not looking forward to seeing just how long he might be out for after he visits J Medical in the next day or two.
- Gian Piero Gasperini has the luxury of bringing Ruslan Malinovskiy and Josip Ilicic off the bench to try and turn the game in his favor.
- The only other natural striker that Andrea Pirlo had to turn to is a Under-23 player in Felix Correia, who is 20 years old and hasn’t played one minute of senior team action.
- I think we know who had the better bench, and it’s not the rookie coach with the nice hair.
- Juventus had nine shots in the first half. Only one of them was on target.
- Juventus finished with 11 shots total. Do the math and that means they had all of two shots in the second — which, by my humble estimation, is not very good.
- Juventus took some free kicks on Sunday. Outside of a Paulo Dybala one that flew over the back post by a foot or two in the second half, I can’t really remember one where Juve actually had a chance of scoring. Basically, free kicks were useless in this game.
- Speaking of Dybala, you could see what a lack of match fitness had on him. He was bright early on and then just faded away. He was absolutely gassed by the time the second half truly got going and Pirlo was right to take him off. Dybala just didn’t have anything left.
- Which, again, gets back to having nobody to really turn to in attack off the bench outside of Dejan Kulusevski as a makeshift striker. And, as we know, that’s not where the young Swede comes even close to thriving.
- Oh, if Alvaro Morata had put a little more juice on that shot of his that was cleared off the line in the first half. Just a liiiiiitle bit more.
- Oh, if that Matthijs de Ligt header right before halftime didn’t hit off his shoulder and go wide of the goal because of it. The “What if...” times this season are plentiful.
- I don’t feel like looking up the stats to see if this hunch of mine is right, but it definitely felt like Arthur had more turnovers than completed passes after coming. I have no idea if it’s true, but it feels like it.
- This headline on Tuttosport’s website is so simple yet so appropriate.
- That’s all I got. I’m tired. Both physically and of this season. I’m going back to bed.