Perhaps we have been too harsh with the current iteration of Juventus. We all acknowledge the this season has been a disappointment in general, with some historically bad results sprinkled in for good measure.
All that being said, last year’s edition of Juventus lost against Empoli at home in their first matchup the season, giving us a preview of what the general results would be for the 2021-22 campaign. This time around, their matchup turned out a vastly different result with a 4-0 thrashing on Friday night that gave fans some good vibes for once.
Who said that this team has shown no improvement whatsoever, huh?
MVP: Adrien Rabiot
Is Adrien Rabiot the most consistently good performer for Juventus this season?
Fine, maybe that’s a bit of a hot take, but is it all that far away from reality when you really think about it? The talent of the French international was never in question, but — much like Juve as a whole since he got here — the consistency was never quite there.
He could look like an absolute world beater in one game to a liability in the next with no rhyme or reason. A lot of it had to do with the general managerial turmoil that Juve has experienced ever since Rabiot signed for the club, as he was consistently played out of position and asked to do things that really didn’t compliment his skill set.
The one thing that Max Allegri has done since he got here has been to do the one thing that his predecessors refused to do and that’s been playing the much-maligned Rabiot in his ideal spot. Unsurprisingly, that’s led to the best stretch of his Juve career by a significant margin.
A cynic might ascribe his recent uptick in form due to the World Cup fast approaching and his contract running out — and I’m sure those factors help — but for once Rabiot is performing like the extremely well-compensated player that Juventus thought they were getting four years ago.
Runner Up - Moise Kean: He’s alive! After a year and change of disappointment, Kean showed something to Juve faithful who remain in the corner of the one time hot shot prospect. His finishing still needs work of course, but he was industrious in the build up and did great to put himself in position to do damage. If he can bring this consistently, the depth at the striker position suddenly looks a lot better.
Grab Bag MVP Season Leader: Dusan Vlahovic (10 Points)
For only the second time this year — and first in Serie A play — Juventus managed to get back-to-back wins, something that they desperately needed as they continue to search for the most important thing lacking in their game.
This team has talented players, maybe not as much as in previous seasons but they are still capable of playing good football. The problem is that we have seen that in sparks and flashes only. Until that becomes any different its going to be hard to believe in this team in the long run.
However, for a team struggling like Juve currently is, there’s only thing they can do and that’s to take it one game at a time. This one was a particularly encouraging one, but one step nevertheless.
Light and Shadow
Federico Gatti had a week of contrasts.
On Monday, he was awarded the best young player in Serie B for his performance last season at the Gran Gala del Calcio. It was a season’s worth of performances that was part of his meteoric ascent from part-time semi-pro footballer to signing with Juventus for this season.
Yet, on the field, Gatti has seen little to no playing time, and Friday’s match was no exception. With Bremer’s injury, it was thought that Gatti could start getting some of those minutes, but Allegri decided to go with Daniele Rugani instead.
Rugani was perfectly serviceable in his spot start, but it is worth noting that even with Bremer out, Allegri seems reluctant to give playing time to Gatti. It’s not like we are talking peak BBC players starting ahead of him either. Outside of Bremer there is no player in the roster that could be construed as a top tier center back.
Gatti might not end up being the second coming of Giorgio Chiellini and that’s fine, but its puzzling to see him being given so few chances considering the lack of depth at the position and his perceived potential.
This was a bit of a slump buster of a game for a number of underperforming players for Juventus. We already discussed Moise Kean, but Weston McKennie and Juan Cuadrado were three other guys that had pretty good games despite their recent slides.
All players go through form issues, very few guys — if any — can be consistent performers considering the amount of games teams are playing in this day and age. But at least for McKennie and Cuadrado especially, it had been a second since we had seen a good performance out of them.
Maybe it was the extra rest in between games that helped or maybe this is just the bounce back game they needed to get back to the best version of themselves, who knows, but with a do-or-die game midweek this was as good as we could have asked considering the expectations.
Parting Shot of the Week
Juventus is very much playing for their European lives on Tuesday against Benfica.
The Champions League knockout rounds are pretty much gone now, but they still need points to at least secure a ticket to the Europa League after their shocking loss in Israel put that in jeopardy.
Benfica is a pretty good team as they have shown this campaign. Refusing to lose against powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain and throttling Juve in Italy last time they faced. Odds are decidedly against the Bianconeri but if they have any shot of rescuing anything from the continental competition this is their last shot.
See you Tuesday.