Alessandro Del Piero, the man who I’m sure helped a good portion of us here fall in love with Juventus for the first time, made his first trip back to the Allianz Stadium in a decade Saturday night. The reception he got was one fit for a king — a stadium full of Juventni getting the chance to see the eternal No. 10 they love so much.
That proved to be one of the few times the crowd at Juve’s crown jewel of a stadium actually had a chance to cheer until second-half stoppage time.
In what proved to be Juventus’ latest and far-from-greatest slog of a performance, it was only for a stoppage-time goal from Dusan Vlahovic — off a very Del Piero-esque assist from Alvaro Morata — that saved the Bianconeri (who weren’t in bianconero) from getting absolutely embarrassed on their home field by Bologna. Vlahovic’s 95th-minute header allowed Juve to completely salvage a point on a day that was more about Juventus truly struggling to do much of anything right and having to fight back from a 1-0 deficit against a Bologna side that saw two players sent off in a matter of seconds yet somehow got a point.
That just kinda shows you how poorly Juve played for pretty much all of this game.
It wasn’t until that stoppage-time flurry of chances in which Juventus actually had the overall advantage in possession, finishing with just over half of the time on the ball. Juventus finished with 2 1⁄2 times as many shots as Bologna, but like we’ve been seeing from this team the last few weeks, very few of them are actually troubling the opposing keeper. Sure, Juventus created and then took 23 shots, but only four — FOUR!!! — of them w1ere on target, with Łukasz Skorupski having to make just three saves the entire night.
That’s not what you would call dominant even though the shot chart would tell you as such.
Instead, this was just an absolute dud of the game. Juventus didn’t play well at all. In fact, they played pretty poorly even with the two-man advantage for 12 or so minutes of game time. It was bad — and that’s saying something considering some of the other performances that we’ve watched this season.
But so many of the issues that have haunted this team over the course of this season showed their face during the vast majority of this game. The ineffective (yet completely makeshift) midfield was bad. The finishing in front of goal was terrible. The defense made one massive mistake and it came back to haunt Juve in the worst possible way. It wasn’t until Juve went down 1-0 that this team started playing with some sort of noticeable energy and desire to do something and attack with some verve.
It was bad.
Really, really bad.
Juventus, playing in front of a home crowd that was jacked the hell up after seeing Del Piero right before kickoff, should not be drawing nine-man Bologna, who has been absolutely terrible away from home in 2022.
Here’s the stark reality, though: Juventus needs to win every one of their five remaining games just to equal last season’s point total. You know, a 2020-21 campaign in which many felt was a total letdown because Juve had to make the Champions League on the final day of the season. Now, even if Juve make the Champions League — and after this game, who the hell knows — they’ll finish level with Andrea Pirlo’s “letdown” of a season. This is bad.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- The only good thing to come out of Juventus wearing this new fourth kit of theirs was the fact that Wojciech Szczesny rocked this season’s away kit as his goalkeeper kit Saturday. It’s a sweet kit to begin with, but when the keeper goals blackout style, it’s never not awesome.
- Meanwhile, that fourth kit ... yeah, I dunno about that one.
- Just go ahead and retire it about as fast as I want to forget about this performance after we record the podcast Sunday morning. Just do it. It doesn’t need to see the light of day again.
- Also, who rolls out a fourth kit with six games to go in the season? Apparently Juventus does.
- But maybe it’s kinda fitting of this season because nothing really seems to be going as it should.
- Still wondering how Juan Cuadrado managed to miss a wide open goal. Who knows if it would have actually counted knowing that foul that took forever to actually call happened right before it, but it’s still pretty amazing how this team can be so bad in front of goal that it manages to hit the crossbar on a wide open goal.
- That kinda feels like this season in a nutshell, doesn’t it?
- Honestly, knowing what kind of player Gary Medel is, he could probably be shown a red card every single time he plays and a lot of folks would be totally OK with it. I know I would.
- Gotta love a three-man midfield with one actual midfielder, a fullback and a winger. That is just Max Allegri going a little too Max Allegri with his starting lineup.
- Like, was it just that hard to have it be a 4-2-3-1 with that same personnel and call it good? I guess so. I hope not, but this is Allegri we’re talking about here.
- If there ever was a day where Fabio Miretti made A LOT of sense to play for an extended period of time, it was this one. I mean, he couldn’t have been any worse than what the players Allegri actually trotted out in midfield did.
- As we’ve been saying for weeks now, when an out-of-form Moise Kean and Federico Bernardeschi are your only two attacking options off the bench in the second half of a game, what do you really expect to happen? Those are just options you’d rather play in the Coppa Italia, not a game in which you’re trying to sure up your spot in fourth place.
- Paulo Dybala touched the ball 36 times before he was subbed off. That’s bad.
- Known offensive weapon Mattia De Sciglio had more touches than Dybala. That’s bad, too.
- Juventus attempted 26 cross.
- Juventus landed nine cross. It felt like it was about half of that at most.
- Prayer circle for Matthijs de Ligt, everybody. You know it has to be a pretty decent injury if it forces that dude and the pain tolerance he has — remember, dude played over half a season with a separated shoulder! — for him have to be subbed off early.
- Juventus completed 69 percent of the long balls they attempted. Nice?
- It’s too bad that Del Piero was subjected to that kind of performance in his first visit back to Allianz Stadium in a decade. I’m glad he was showered with all the love he deserves. But that game, oof madonn, that was tough to watch. Can’t imagine he was all that happy with it — which is completely understandable.