Juventus ended the first half of the season in much better manner than they started it, and have clawed their way back up to fifth place in the Serie A table. If things stand as they do though, the Bianconeri will miss out on the Champions League next season ... unless they win the whole competition this season!
The folks at FiveThirtyEight have been publishing their football predictions for a few years now, and have continued to build and refine their methodology over that time. While many football fans are more familiar with the Elo ratings system, FiveThirtyEight base theirs on a substantially revised version of ESPN’s Soccer Power Index (SPI), which was originally developed by the editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight Nate Silver. For a deeper dive on how their predictions system works, click here to read.
Based on all the squads before the first game of the season, Juventus were actually second favorites to win the Scudetto (22%, 74 points) behind only defending champions Inter Milan (27%, 76 points). They were also expected to have the most potent attack and second-best defence as well.
However, once the season started, a combination of fatal errors and untimely injuries saw Juve plummet down the standings to 16th, and a month into the season their chances of winning it all had gone down to 8% with a total of 67 points predicted.
As the leading trio of Inter, AC Milan and Napoli started distancing themselves from the pack and Juve got back on track going into the second international break, they were in a good position to get fourth place with a 46% chance of making the Champions League, but only 6% chance of winning the league with 68 points.
Juve continued on roughly the same path until the next international break with a schedule total points total of 67, only a 3% chance of winning Serie A and their chances of making the Champions League dropping to 39% as Atalanta overhauled them.
And now at the halfway mark of the league season, Juve have slightly bettered their predicted points total to 69, but their top four chances remain at about 46% and Massimiliano Allegri’s side will have to produce a much better performance overall in the second half season to better their 34 points that the first nineteen games garnered.
Over the last seven years, the cutoff for Champions League qualification (fourth place) has been 78 points twice, 72 points twice, 69, 67 and 64 points once each. So while getting another 34 points will bring Juve up to 68 and likely in the conversation for the fourth-place spot in the league table, they will want to get at least 44 in the second half to make it 78 total with how competitive the top half of the league has been this season.
Allegri likes to break the season down into phases stretching from one break to another. Setting a goal of 45 points from 19 games means about 14 wins, 3 draws and 2 losses from the second half of the season, which is not entirely unachievable, but will require Juve to not slip up with lapses of concentration that have allowed opponents to score at untimely situations.
Juve have six games in January before the first international break, of which four carry Serie A implications. Home versus Napoli (3rd), away at AS Roma (6th), SuperCoppa against Inter Milan, home against Udinese (14th), Coppa Italia Round of 16 at home against Sampdoria and then away at AC Milan (2nd).
It’s almost fair to say that come the first international break, Juve’s chances at a top four spot will be pretty much known once they have come through this gauntlet of games. Four wins will well and truly put the Bianconeri in the thick of it, while too many points dropped here against teams around them in the table will end any chances.