This is becoming in which we’ve becoming all too familiar with telling.
And certainly one that we’re very much tired of telling, too. But with the way this season is going and how fast things are starting to spiral, it’s likely one that we’re going to tell again.
The all-too-familiar story of Juventus getting up early, not taking advantage of very clear-cut chances to extend their lead and then being paid for it range true once again Wednesday night. It’s happened in Europe before, and it happened again against Benfica at the Juventus Stadium, with Arek Milik’s goal less than four minutes in long and forgotten another bright start was pretty much fully dimmed by the time the midway point of the first half arrived. The end result was a 2-1 win from Benfica, sending Juventus to their second loss in as many games to begin the group stage and with so much work to do to get back into the picture in terms of advancement that it might already be too deep of a hole.
Basically, with Juve already six points behind both Paris Saint-Germain and Benfica and at the bottom of Group H, Juventus needs to win both games against Maccabi Haifa — which, right now, seems like a pretty tough task — and then hope that one of the two teams ahead of them starts to run away with the group in its entirety.
But wondering what will happen with PSG and Benfica isn’t the biggest issue right now.
The problem — and it’s one of many — is that Juventus has such a massive hole to try and get out of after TWO group stage games and they’re playing just absolutely terrible football right now that you can’t see a situation in which it suddenly clicks and they’re still playing in the Champions League come the new year. It’s gotten that bad that fast, and there’s not a whole lot of motivating factors to make you think it’s going to improve over the next few weeks.
As much as getting some injured players back might help, you just don’t know. Why? Because they have shown in pretty much every game this season that they are incapable of playing good football for large stretches of time. It was that way again Wednesday night against Benfica after Milik scored his goal. They played well for the first 15-20 minutes and then the Portuguese side was able to completely take over the game.
So unless you’re able to get more than one goal over that span, you’re playing with fire.
And for Juventus, no matter how well they started, it just went bad in a hurry. First it was the penalty call on Fabio Miretti that allowed Benfica to tie things up. Then it was simply just the rest of the game. Juventus, outside of a few close calls, didn’t look all that dangerous. They went into their typical desperation mode in the closing minutes but even that didn’t really result in all that much of anything.
It was a Juventus that, after the 20th minute, had absolutely no bite. None. It was the same kind of performance that we’d seen against Sampdoria, against Fiorentina, in the first half against Paris Saint-Germain. And while I get that Juve has little help on the bench to try and flip the game back in their favor, it’s the kind of situation where you have to capitalize on the chances you do have — and Juventus most certainly didn’t do that.
Milik’s goal came in the fourth minute. After that goal, Juventus had two shots on target — and hit the post once via Moise Kean (!!) — the rest of the way. That’s just simply unacceptable if you’re knowing full well one goal isn’t going to do it. And it’s just inexcusable when you’re trying to fight from behind and get something out of the game.
Juventus didn’t get anything from this game other than another reminder of how far they’ve fallen under Max Allegri’s watch. (Funny, we were told sacking Andrea Pirlo was supposed to make things better and get Juve back to its best. Guess not.)
Sapete quante volte nella sua storia la Juventus aveva perso le prime 2 partite di Champions League?— Enrico Turcato (@EnricoTurcato) September 14, 2022
Zero. Questa la PRIMA volta.#JuveBenfica
“Do you know how many times in its history Juventus had lost the first 2 Champions League matches? Zero. This is the FIRST time.”
This feels like the start of a rock-bottom kind of moment. But we’ve seen over the last few weeks that things can get worse. That might be what worries me the most about this current moment because you just don’t know how bad it’s truly going to get.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Pre-game thought No. 1: Yes, 3-5-2 is the way. For now.
- Pre-game thought No. 2: I like that we’ve already reached the point where Fabio Miretti being in the starting lineup isn’t a huge deal or a major surprise. It just seems like that’s the way it should be. Who knows if this will be the case when some of the injured players come back — or if the injuries will ever subside enough to have some depth — but the kid is getting his shot.
- Pre-game thought No. 3: gh4e (my cat just walked across my keyboard)
- Pre-game thought No. 4: Another night in which there’s a whooooole lot of empty seats. It’s one thing to see it against Salernitana, but it’s another to see it in the Champions League (against insert random opponent here).
- This is how Juventus plays when Charles Leclerc is in the crowd? Unacceptable.
- Juventus players went to the Tribuna Sud after the final whistle and proceeded to get absolutely bombed with whistles from the fans. It’s deserved at this point.
- This team just looks absolutely fried mentally and physically. Claudio Marchisio said the same type of thing on the post-game show on Amazon Prime in Italy.
- The worst part of that statement is that it is SEPTEMBER. You don’t want to hear that a month or so into the new season.
- I was not overly impressed when Juve signed Arek Milik. But with the way he has started his Juventus career, I am more than happy to eat some crow. Keep scoring goals, Arek. Happy to see you doing well.
- And then after Milik scored IN THE FOURTH MINUTE, Juventus didn’t put another shot on goal the rest of the first half. That’s just ... predictable for Juventus in 2022. (Please note this was written at halftime. I didn’t know how bad things were going to get. Although I probably should have.)
- Juan Cuadrado screaming for a penalty when in actuality he just tripped over himself is very on brand for Juan Cuadrado in 2022.
- Also on Washed Watch: Leonardo Bonucci. I get he had a couple of nice tackles in the second half, but much of his performance against a younger and quicker Benfica attack Wednesday night was roooooooooough.
- There was a Benfica corner kick in the second half — sorry, I forget when, I was trying to do multiple things at once — and the camera panned to Mattia Pern who was trying to organize his defense. He looked absolutely over everything that had happened up to that point.
- Me too, Mattia. Me too.
- Dusan Vlahovic finished with 26 touches.
- I do have to wonder what’s going through Vlahovic’s head right now. It’s been less than a year since he moved to Juventus. He held out for this move, denying the big money that the Premier League could have offered him. Over the last nine months, he’s seen Juve just continue to go downward and he’s just limited in what he can because he sees so little of the ball. He’s gone from scoring on his Champions League debut within a couple of minutes to now this. I can’t help but feel for him because so much of this is not his fault.
- This has to be the beginning of the end for Max Allegri because I really don’t know what else could be. Advancing to the knockout stages looks pretty much impossible at this point with how his team is playing and nothing — absolutely NOTHING — has gotten better under his watch. I understand this squad is very much flawed and shorthanded, but it’s the job of the manager to make due with what he has and get the best out of his resources. With Max, that just ain’t happening.
- I checked the schedule at halftime to see when Juve’s game this weekend kicked off where I live. It’s at six in the morning. This team is making me very much not looking forward to doing that. But BWRAO matters and I will do as the schedule tells me.
- Then again, it doesn’t matter when Juventus will kick things off the next few weeks, the thought of watching them doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence right now. Or any confidence.
- Juve got outshot 19-11 by Benfica. In Turin. After controlling the first 15-20 minutes of the first half. This is the current state of Juventus — when it’s bad, it’s really bad.