At some point, Juventus will field a team that is incapable of continuously shooting itself in the foot and delivering self-inflicting damage in games that they can win. But until they reach that point, games like what we saw on Saturday night will only continue to happen.
Whether it’s because of the inability to handle to pressure or just simple mental exhaustion coming off the first international break of the 2021-22 season, Juventus’ bad side was on display again in the second half of its 2-1 loss to Napoli at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. Two goals that Napoli didn’t have any business scoring found the back of the net, first on a massive mistake by Wojciech Szczesny and then whatever the hell that was from Moise Kean to put the home side ahead with 10 minutes to go.
They have been the bane of Juve’s existence the last couple of years.
And when you’ve got so little room for error with half your regular starting lineup sitting back in Turin after just getting back to Italy and a slim 1-0 with Napoli pushing forward to tie (and then try and win) the game, making two massive mistakes like Juve did is killing your hopes of winning with a couple of punches to the gut.
But that is the team Juventus is right now. From top to bottom, the inability to play — or, hell, even manage effectively — for 90 minutes just continues to ring true. Juventus did a lot of things right in the first half as they went into the halftime break up 1-0 on Alvaro Morata’s surprising opener thanks to Napoli doing a little bit of its own shooting itself in the foot. It was the right kind of approach, they were absorbing pressure well and overall playing a solid game against a Napoli side that has started the season well.
Then it all fell apart.
Seeing the ball not caught or perried out by Szczesny shouldn’t be a surprise because that’s just the goalkeeper he is right now. The mistakes he’s making are routine ones, and ones that he wasn’t making during the beginning of his time taking over for Gigi Buffon as starter. But the calendar year of 2021 continues to be one that has seen his form go into the tank, and the unfortunate part is that, a lot like the team as a whole, the end of the struggles seem to see no clear end.
Juventus has allowed five goals this season. Szczesny’s mistakes have played a direct role in three of those being scored.
I’m not going to try and figure out what was going through Kean’s head on what proved to be the game-winning goal because only he knows. We can read into it all we want, but there’s only one dude who truly knows what he was attempting to pull off — a header back for Szczesny to try and pick up or simply being thrown off by teammates in front of him missing their clearance attempts — and that’s Kean himself.
No matter the reason, it hurt Juventus all the same.
Considering the circumstances coming into Saturday night’s game, a draw against a Napoli side that has started the new season well wasn’t going to be the worst thing in the world. Certainly better than one of the alternatives, one that involved Juve heading back to Turin with their tail between their legs and still stuck on one point through the first three games.
Yet here we are — again.
We have watched Juventus drop points — again.
And, despite all of the players missing and not called up, Juventus had a chance to win this game. Except they didn’t — again.
At some point, a Juventus team will snap out of whatever the hell is currently wrong with them. The problem is, that could be in a few weeks, it could be in a few months or it could be in a few years. Right now, nobody knows — and the solution to the problem might be one of the biggest mysteries of them all.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Just ... pain.
- I just ... I don’t know, man.
- I usually like to try and be funny with the first couple of bullet points here. But not today. Not after that game. Not with the start to this season that Juve are currently in. It’s not exactly something that inspires (attempted) comedy or anything close to it.
- It feels like years since Italy won the Euros. It was two months ago.
- And here I thought we would be the ones benefiting from the biggest mistake of the game. So much for that idea. We can’t have nice things, I guess.
- With every mistake the current starter makes, there is going to be a growing goalkeeper controversy. And while Szczesny seems to have the full backing of his manager right now, something needs to happen soon or else Mattia Perin is going to deserve some kind of shot at being the guy. Sure, Perin’s not the perfect solution to the problem — those types of guys happen to have the same first name and are currently playing in Serie B and Ligue 1, respectively — but Szczesny’s going to some sort of kick in the ass to either shake whatever is wrong with him or allow Juve’s current No. 2 keeper to bring some stability to a position that needs it desperately.
- That’s the long way of saying Szczesny needs to snap the hell out of it or else Perin deserves the chance to become the starting goalkeeper at Juventus for the short term.
- Amidst all of the bad, there was some good to come out of this game — it’s Manuel Locatelli. Is he an out-and-out regista? No, but some of the passes he played in this game were absolutely beautiful. He was pinging the ball all around the field in the first half especially, and just the general ability to play such a direct kind of ball a good amount of the time is such a welcomed change to what we’ve seen from Juve’s midfield for much of the last two or three years. Now if only the rest of the midfielders around him can get their act together, then there could be something good happening.
- Luca Pellegrini ... wasn’t terrible?
- Mattia De Sciglio ... wasn’t terrible?
- Pavel Nedved’s comments about De Sciglio before the game ... ah, I needed that laugh.
- I’m not going to stop thinking about the scoring chances that Weston McKennie and Dejan Kulusevski couldn’t convert in the first half. It’s a completely different kind of second half if one of those attempts goes in.
- This sounds bad ...
The unpredictability of this Serie A season so far where at the end of tomorrow there could be potentially 4 sides at 9 points and +8 over Juve— Francesco (@FRANCESCalciO_) September 11, 2021
- One point in three games. That’s just stupid. How Juventus has dropped points this season is very, very stupid. This squad continues to do stupid things.
- At least the South Americans will be back for the start of the Champions League. Who knows if it will actually help, but it will be nice to at least have a full-ish roster again.
- This sport is dumb and I don’t know why I keep watching it sometimes.
- With that said, see you Tuesday.