It became very evident very quickly that Juventus having a repeat of its season-opening win over Sassuolo last Monday night seven days later wasn’t going to be in the cards.
The problem was that there was still 75 or so minutes to be played.
The second straight Monday night fixture to begin the 2022-23 season for Juventus was certainly far from what we saw in the first one. The effective and solid offensive performance was replaced by one that we saw too many times a season ago as Max Allegri marked his return to Juventus. It was one of completely uninspiring play and missing on the few chances that did come about in what proved to be a scoreless draw with Sampdoria and the Luigi Ferraris.
As much as the match announcers on the feed I was watching wanted to try and spin this into Juventus keeping a clean sheet for the second straight game to start the season, the total lack of much of anything going forward outside of four or five moments was what equated to why Juventus dropped points for the first time this season. The midfield was completely out of whack. Juve’s fullbacks added little going forward. And when it came to wing play in attack, there’s pretty much nothing to write home about outside of a Juan Cuadrado scoring chance in the first half and a few crosses that actually hit their target — and that’s it.
How bad was it? Well, let’s try this Dusan Vlahovic-related one on for size ...
Dusan Vlahovic only attempted passes as Juventus were held to a 0-0 draw with Sampdoria tonight— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) August 22, 2022
1 of those was to take kick off in the first half... pic.twitter.com/R3OwAa9CJb
Yeah, that’s pretty bad. While there were plenty of examples of how poor of service Vlahovic received from last season, this had to be one of the worst yet. As much as you had two actual wingers in Filip Kostic and Juan Cuadrado playing alongside of him from the opening whistle, your big-money striker is absolutely useless if he doesn’t touch the ball at all. And I’m not talking about touching the ball when he defends a corner kick and almost sends it into his own net. No, in front of the opposing goal and having him get chances like he did last Monday night against Sassuolo or for pretty much all of last season when he was in a Fiorentina kit.
The approach was timid at best before Max Allegri introduced the kids in midfield. And even then, it’s not like it could have gotten much worse — there was nowhere to go but up.
But when you are both shorthanded due to injuries to begin with and then add in a team that once again struggles to create much of anything in midfield, this is the result. We saw it last season, we’ve seen it in previous seasons under different managers. Juventus’ shortcomings in this game were the same kinds of ones we saw in 2021, 2020, 2019 and before that.
This is nothing new, people. And it will only continue to be a problem until something changes in the final week and a half of the transfer window or Juve’s biggest players can stay healthy for extended periods of time. (Even then who knows if it will!)
You want to know just how bad things got outside of Vlahovic barely seeing the ball? Well, let me answer that for you now: Juventus had a corner kick with about 30 seconds to go. Both Moise Kean and Bremer appeared to have open headers at the back post thanks to a nice cross in by Fabio Miretti. Instead of actually putting it on goal, Kean got in the way of Bremer — who appeared to have the better of the angles for a header on header — and sent it out for a goal kick.
Allegri’s reaction on the sideline, one that saw him slam his hand onto the top of the dugout, was probably like a lot of us in that moment. And honestly, it was the same kind of reaction a lot of us probably had while watching most of those first 90-something minutes.
Basically, until Juve plays more like they did in the first game of the season and do it on a somewhat consistent basis, it’s hard not to think they’re going to play more like they did in the second game of the season.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- I logged onto SofaScore right before kickoff as one is want to do when following a Juventus game and saw that nearly 72% of folks predicted a Bianconeri victory. Whoopsies!
- Juventus’ first sub of the night? Mattia De Sciglio. Difference maker, baby!
- Juventus second sub of the night actually helped a whole lot more than the first one, I’d say. More on Fabio Miretti in a bit, folks, because he deserves some attention.
- I somewhat sarcastically posted on Twitter when Fabio Quagliarella was subbed on that he was going to score an 89th-minute wondergol to win it. Well, he almost did that in the 88th minute, so who’s the joke on now? (I would have asked you to send your complaints somewhere else if it actually happened.)
- When Sam goes into the BWRAO Slack room and says “Rugani has been Juve’s best player” you pretty much know how things are going. Dan seems like a nice guy, but the dude has a ceiling in terms of his play, so when he’s the best of the bunch that pretty much tells you all you need to know about how Juve’s playing.
- Juventus posted a slow-motion video of Bremer warming up beforehand and my goodness this man has muscles on top of muscles. What perfectly sculpted calves he has.
- There’s also this video going around Twitter of a 40-second sequence of passing from Juventus in the first half that really is just completely baffling with how boring it is.
- Mattia Perin had to make one save in this game and it was a superb one. After that, he wasn’t necessarily a spectator, but he definitely wasn’t as busy in goal as Emil Audero.
- Sure wish Juan Cuadrado had scored that first-half chance that Audero saved.
- Sure wish Dusan Vlahovic would have been just slightly onside rather than slightly offside on the goal that Adrien Rabiot scored that was called off by VAR.
- Sure wish Nicolo Rovella had hit the ball just slightly lower so that it went into the roof of the Sampdoria goal rather than just over the crossbar.
- Also, Rovella getting whistled while coming on was maybe something you didn’t initially expect, but then you remembered that he used to play for Genoa and it totally made sense.
- Here is where we talk about Fabio Miretti, who is certainly one of the few Juve players who can look back on this one and say “Yeah, I played well” and not be laughed out of the room. Miretti actually brought some positivity to a Juventus midfield that desperately needed it. He played vertically. His passes were aggressive and had intent yet also were incisive and successful. This is a 19-year-old kid who actually made Juve look dangerous rather than the completely lost and ineffective way they were playing before he came on. Out of all the changes, Miretti’s introduction was by far the most positive.
- This is the short way of saying that Miretti should start against Roma and Allegri shouldn’t even think twice about it.
- Therefore I am not going to hold my breath when it comes to Miretti starting against Roma.
- For as good as Miretti was after coming on, man was Manuel Locatelli not very good.
- Same can be said for Weston McKennie, who just looked out of sorts playing in that No. 10-ish kind of space behind Dusan Vlahovic. That’s just not the kind of midfielder he is and I think we have enough evidence to suggest to us that he, like Locatelli, needs to be in his proper position or else his value to the team goes down a lot.
- Boy, what the #narrative would have been if Rabiot had scored the game-winning goal just days after his move to Manchester United fell apart. Oh well.
- Still ahead of last season’s point total, so who said Max Allegri hasn’t made progress with this team compared to last year? (Don’t answer that. Please, DO NOT answer that.)