It does not take a massive breaking news graphic flashing across the screen to alert folks that Juventus’ end product and their overall performance level has not been very good this season. Comfortable wins have been few and far between, with Max Allegri truly going back to his roots and trying to grind out as many results as he possibly can knowing full well that this Juve side might not have the same kind of quality as the last time he was manager.
So when I presented the upcoming chart to you, what will your reaction be? First, behold the Serie A standings through the first nine games of the 2022 calendar year.
That is Juventus, a team that isn’t playing all that great and has been absolutely blitzed by an injury crisis that we haven’t seen in years, with more points than any of the other 19 clubs in Italy’s top flight since the start of 2022. That’s ... impressive in a way — especially since the overall end product is pretty much just grinding out result after result and not exactly doing it with any kind of style points.
It’s what has allowed Juventus to continue to move up the standings and overtake Atalanta in the race for fourth place. And with Juve heading into this weekend’s meeting with Sampdoria six points ahead of Atalanta (and Roma), making La Dea’s game in hand somewhat of a moot point now that it’s not as tight of a margin for error as it used to be.
And because Juventus has been a little more consistent points-wise compared to the clubs in front of them in the standings, they’ve closed the gap and currently sit seven points off league leaders AC Milan. (Mind you, Inter Milan, like Atalanta, have a game in hand due to a COVID-19 postponement from earlier this season, so there’s also that.)
All of this comes under the very conservative way in which Max Allegri has decided to set up his team in recent weeks. It’s conservative approach has maybe gone to the extreme in recent weeks, but that seems to be more out of the fact that the current injury situation has seen squad rotation become virtually impossible and left Allegri with very few options off the bench.
Now, players are slowly starting to come back, with Mattia De Sciglio and Alex Sandro rejoining the group for training on Thursday, so there appears to be help on the way. But I think it’s safe to say that the overall product that Allegri’s squad has trotted out over the first couple of months of 2022 has been far from something that’s relatively close to being considered easy on the eye — and that’s with the addition of a star striker in Dusan Vlahovic at the end of the January transfer window.
And even though most Juventus games are a grind these days, it’s resulting in points being earned — which, at some points this season, was something we couldn’t necessarily say.