As folks discover new stats to try and make their case and the attention paid toward tactical breakdowns become more and more popular, sometimes this game is pretty damn simple.
To score a goal, one must put a shot on goal.
I mention this because during Sunday night’s scoreless draw with AC Milan at San Siro, Juventus did not record a shot on goal. Not a single one. There were shots toward the goal, but none actually went on target and had to be saved or, shockingly, potentially put Juventus ahead. The result of that was a somewhat snooze-worthy night on a day when Juventus could have jumped over fourth-place Atalanta — which had a scoreless draw of their own 24 hours earlier — and gone into the first international break of 2022 feeling pretty good about where things stand as we get ready to head into February.
Instead, it was more of a chore than the eye-catching spectacle that some thought this could be.
As time went on and Juve were essentially weathering a pretty strong Milan surge to close the first half, there was a feeling in my gut that this had all the makings of a defend-like-hell, wait-for-the-one-moment-to-strike kind of Max Allegri game that we’ve seen so many times over the years.
Except, as it played out, that scoring chance never really arrived. Sure, there were a few chances where Juve players — most notably Alvaro Morata and Weston McKennie in the second half — but it’s not like Mike Maignan was anything close to busy. Hell, he was pretty much standing around like Gigi Buffon during the glory years in the early 2010s because Juve’s attack was not doing much at all when it came to put something on frame.
Juventus did its job on the defensive end of the equation. There were a few nervy moments, but Wojciech Szczesny was really forced into one difficult save and the rest of his night was relatively routine when it came to stopping shots.
But with all of the fouls, the approach from Allegri to absorb all that pressure and maybe get something going on the counter and then the inability to do anything consistent on the counter, Juve’s offense never truly kicked into gear. You can argue that it’s been like that for much of the 2021-22 season and you’re probably not wrong. But in this game, with plenty at stake for both teams, simply sputtering in attack was never going result in much of anything good happening.
Thus the reason why we’re sitting here talking about a scoreless draw rather than how many goals Juventus scored. Just another day in the life of Juve’s attack that is still lacking a killer instinct as we sit here nearly a month into the new year.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Right before the start of the second half, my cat jumped onto her windowsill perch. The sun was shining, which is kinda rare for this time of year where I live. She sat for a couple of minutes, then — as one would expect — decided to sprawl out and bask in the sunshine coming through the window. She’s still asleep as I type out this bullet. I should have followed the lead of my cat.
- Before you roast Max Allegri for starting Daniele Rugani over Matthijs de Ligt by choice, the big Dutch baby boy was dealing with a case of gastroenteritis and was only available off the bench.
- And not just that, but the January redemption tour for Rugani marched on in this game. He’s been getting better as time has gone on this month and he’s getting consistent playing time for the first time in years at Juventus. I’m not saying that he should be starting over de Ligt or anything like that, but he certainly has been far from the disaster of a player we feared he would be at the start of the month when there were no other central defenders available.
- There were 23 fouls combined in the first half. Honestly, there should have been more.
- And, with all of those fouls, there were all of ... three yellows shown. I got nothing.
- Alvaro Morata also got whacked in the back of the knee just inside of the penalty area in the second half, fell to the ground and absolutely nothing was called. Like I said, there were fouls in this game — for both teams, so it’s not like I’m being a complete homer here — that should have been called and weren’t, and that might be one of the most egregious of them all.
- Paulo Dybala had some neat tricks and flicks in the first half, but this was far from the strong performance we had both been hoping for coming into this game as well as seen from him lately. It wasn’t necessarily due to a lack of involvement — he had the fourth-most touches on the team with 69 (nice) — but it just wasn’t the kind of electric, always-dangerous kind of night Dybala had been having more often than not since coming back from injury.
- Although it didn’t last very long, it was kind of fitting that Giorgio Chiellini’s 550th appearance in a Juventus jersey came against Zlatan Ibrahimovic, right? With all the battles they’ve had over the years, it’s quite appropriate to see those two old warhorses match up against one another for about 25 minutes before Ibra had to come off injured.
- I don’t know about y’all, but seeing Olivier Giroud go up for a header with Mattia De Sciglio marking him and there not being much time left on the clock certainly sent my heart into my stomach for a second or two. That was a scary moment.
- Rodrigo Bentancur played well ... again? Like, for real. Or at least had a really strong game defensively. Not bad when so much has gone wrong for him over the last 18 months.
- I felt like there were more than a few times where Weston McKennie was making a run down the left wing and instead of switching it to him, Juve just continued to make their passes toward the right wing. McKennie was there, but nobody saw him. What could’ve been, huh.
- Max Allegri waiting until the 74th minute to shake things up in attack and take off Alvaro Morata is going to be something that a whole lot of folks talk about. Sometimes Max completely misfires with the timing of his subs, and this seemed like one of those nights.
- I really hope we don’t look back at this game as a missed opportunity to get into the top four when it’s all said and done. But, right now, this feels like a missed opportunity.