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Manu’s Grab Bag: Pain & Bliss

We talk another late-game meltdown, a step backwards and a late push for history.

Genoa CFC v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/vi/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Juventus has now been mathematically eliminated from the Scudetto race. For practical purposes, they haven’t been competing for the Serie A title for a while now, but Friday night’s 2-1 letdown of a loss against Genoa was aided by the team now being officially out.

With Champions League qualification secured a week ago, the stakes for this game — and the remaining two Serie A matchdays thereafter — are pretty low, so you’ll forgive me if I’m not necessarily horrified about the result. With that being said, it was a neat encapsulation of so many of the flaws that has kneecapped this Juve team time and time again. They wasted a lot of offensive chances, failed to put the opposing team away and then had horrid defensive lapses that end up costing you in the end.

At this point, what’s one more to the tally, right?

Let’s cook.

LVP: Mattia De Sciglio

At this point, I’m pretty done with Mattia De Sciglio.

This is not the first time I put that take out in this space, but the fact that de Sciglio remains employed by Juventus is the most glaring indictment of the poor job that the front office has made in building this team. On Friday, he singlehandedly cost the team the game as he committed two pretty ghastly defensive mistakes late to gift Genoa the win. And look, who cares at this point about this game? It’s not about this game alone.

Right now, who is Mattia De Sciglio? At his absolute best, he is an adequate backup who brings some measure of tactical flexibility due to his ability to play both fullback positions. That’s his ceiling, and the absolute best-case scenario is being an OK player. Why are we trying to renew thing guy again?

What we have almost exclusively seen from De Sciglio since he signed for Juventus has been below-average play — when he’s healthy, which he is very often not — from a supposed defensive specialist who consistently makes back breaking mistakes while providing almost nothing going forward.

De Sciglio is not a player that should be anywhere near a world-class level roster. The fact the he is still around to cost Juventus points tells you everything you need to know about why we are not competing for league titles right now.

Grab Bag MVP Season Leader: Paulo Dybala (17 points)

Winner: Paulo Dybala

One of the few things worth keeping an eye on as Juventus plays the string is watching Paulo Dybala’s last games with the team and his bid to overtake Roberto Baggio on the all-time goals chart for the Bianconeri.

With his scoring effort on Friday, Dybal is now tied with the historic Italian forward with a 115 goals and still has a few more cracks at overtaking Baggio. With Dybala playing at a pretty good level, it’s not a bad bet to think he will be able to make it.

(Also shocking that his goal came from an outside-the-box curler, a shot that we have seen him unleash with his left foot dozens of times to great effect. This time, however, the effort came from his right foot. It’s just further proof of how much Dybala has grown since his first few years with the club in which his right foot was essentially useless.)

And look, I don’t want to rehash the Dybala renewal saga because we will have plenty of time for that once the summer break gets here, but, I mean ...

Sure, sure, you would think a team so offensively inept would want to keep a guy like him, but hey, I don’t run a football club so what do I know.

Backward Steps

A recent pleasant development for Juventus had been the good run of form of two guys who have failed to live up to their expectations.

For differing reasons, Adrien Rabiot and Moise Kean were both highly touted from the moment they came to the club. The mercurial Rabiot was another in a long list of highly paid free transfers under the reign of Fabio Paratici and a feather on the cap of Juve’s management as he was highly sought after in the transfer window. Despite falling out of favor in his last year at Paris Saint-Germain it was undeniable that the French international possessed dazzling talent and it was expected that he would be a key player under incoming manager Maurizio Sarri.

He never quite managed to find his groove under Sarri and he was woefully miscast as a double pivot midfielder in Andrea Pirlo’s scheme. Nevertheless, Rabiot found some of his best moments of form under Max Allegri this year. Playing far more often in a traditional box-to-box role that suits his skills, he’s been one of the more reliable midfielders on the team. He never quite lived up to his price tag — don't get me wrong — but he had quietly managed to string together a good run of performances.

He had another decent outing against Genoa, up until he gifted a ball to Nadiem Amiri that almost cost Juventus late in the game. And that has been often his problem, he can have good games — great games even! — that end up costing the team erasing all of the good things he had done previously. Luckily for him, this time Woj was there to bail him out. But we know that we haven’t been quite so lucky when it comes to Rabiot-related blunders in the past.

Kean was another guy in decent form but has put forward a disappointing season overall. It was always unfair to ask of him to come in and even try to make up the scoring tally of Cristiano Ronaldo, but his output was still largely disappointing.

Still, after scoring the winning goal against Sassuolo just a handful of days earlier and putting forth good performances lately, you could be convinced into thinking this was as good a moment as any for Kean to show something that makes Juventus want to keep him around.

All of that came to a stop as he got tired of missing chances, chances that could have easily turned this game into a different result. Good strikers don’t miss those chances, and Kean unfortunately did.

Parting Shot of the Week

With the three points, Genoa got right back into the thick of things in the relegation battle and honestly, those three points probably help them more than they could have helped Juventus.

Still, it’s a bit of a bummer to have a late loss like this considering that up next is literally the only game left that matters as Juve take Inter in the Coppa Italia final. Will Juventus be left trophy-less for the first time in years? Or can the Bianconeri manage to lift a trophy even in one of their worst seasons?

We’ll find out soon enough.

See you Wednesday.