As the time ticked away and got closer and closer to the final whistle Sunday evening, it was pretty clear what Juventus’ main objective was — make sure you leave Bergamo without any major damage done. That is, don’t let an Atalanta team that was pushing late for all three points do as they so desired.
It was not as routine as Max Allegri so desired.
And if not for some Wojciech Szczesny brilliance, then a little bit of luck after some Szczesny nerviness, this wouldn’t have been the “head home with a point” kind of feeling like Max wanted it to be.
No, this was not the high-energy, free-flowing kind of effort from Juventus like there was two weeks ago in their first big game of the 2023-24 season. Instead, it was a grind from virtually start to finish, with Juventus’ scoreless draw against Atalanta somewhat surprisingly finishing that way with how Atalanta dominated possession both early and then again late. Whether it was Szczesny’s big save on Luis Muriel’s second-half free kick or Teun Koopmeiners not taking advantage of either of his big scoring chances in the dying minutes, this was the kind of result where you’re probably going to be looking back and thinking Juve are a little lucky (at the very least) to be getting a point.
To look at it another way ...
Atalanta (1.26) 0-0 (0.19) Juventus— The xG Philosophy (@xGPhilosophyEU) October 1, 2023
Atalanta dominated early. They pinned Juve back late. Juventus managed just one shot — ONE! ONE SINGLE SHOT! — the entire second half. That tells you all you need to know about how things were going when Juve went forward at the beginning of the second half and how it was more of a deal to simply hang onto the scoreless draw as time went on.
Juve were outshot 15-5 on the night. Those five shots, as you can probably guess, were a season low for a Juve side that has now scored just one goal in its last two games since the 4-2 loss to Sassuolo.
On the whole, I guess the one point is better than the alternative. Winning in Bergamo has become a tough task as Atalanta has become more and more of a true rival for a spot in the top four. And considering that Juventus were without Dusan Vlahovic and his direct replacement, Arek MIlik, seeing them struggle with no true reference point up top was not really all that surprising.
But at the same time, you just wish you could see more.
Passes are still a total mixed bag when this team tries to push forward no matter if it’s out of the back or from the under-fire midfielders. The build-up continues to be slow when they do have extended periods of possession — so much so that the cameras are still cutting to Allegri on the sidelines screaming at his team to move the ball quicker. There were times where Federico Chiesa felt like a one-man band up front and the lone outlet to either create a scoring chance or be the one who does the goal scoring. (Remember, Chiesa was the one who had that lone shot in the second half that stung Juan Musso’s gloves after an Atalanta turnover at the back.)
Heck, maybe I was a little naive to think that Allegri would play things differently than he did knowing that he was without Vlahovic and Milik. Maybe it was that effort against Lazio that caused me to hope that Juve would come out with the same kind of fire and energy again on this night. Maybe it was just me hoping that Allegri wouldn’t have such a conservative game plan in a big game because the victory over Lazio showed that it’s possible to win a different way.
I don’t know, man. As this went on, you just got the feeling that three points weren’t going to happen and that a draw was really the main thing that Allegri and Juve were targetting.
I guess one point is better than none. But this was a winnable game even with the names who were missing — and Juventus just couldn’t muster much of anything to get it done.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- The atmosphere at the Gewiss Stadium where the seating capacity is all of about 15,000 due to ongoing construction on the Curva Sud is better than it is at the Allianz Stadium where there’s routinely double that amount of people in attendance. Seems more like a Juventus problem more than anything else.
- It took nearly 30 minutes for Juventus to even attempt their first shot.
- It’s a good thing Davide Zappacosta can’t finish worth a lick or else this would have been an uphill battle for 75 or so minutes.
- There was one point midway through the first half that Atalanta held over 70 percent of the possession. At halftime, Juventus had a 53-47 edge. The thing is, though, so much of it was just sterile possession and not passes that tried to break down Atalanta’s defense. Lots of passing from one side or the other at the back, with Danilo and Bremer combining for over 90 touches in the first half.
- Juventus had two key passes in the first half, according to SofaScore. Federico Chiesa had one of them. The other? Wojciech Szczesny.
- Adrien Rabiot picked up a yellow card right before halftime. That was Juve’s league-leading 18th yellow card this season. Considering it’s the first day of October, I’d say that’s not great.
- Danilo went on to be booked as well, pushing that league-high total to 19.
- I personally would like it if Bremer’s not hurt for any amount of time that causes him to miss games because being down another center back doesn’t sound great.
- Unsurprisingly, Chiesa was the only Juventus player to attempt more than one shot.
- Did Rabiot have a good game? I’m looking at the stat websites and they’re saying he had a good game but I feel like I didn’t see what they saw.
- Honestly, I’m struggling to convince myself that Rabiot is having a good season on the whole. After his season-opening performance, it just feels like it’s been more pre-2022-23 Rabiot as compared to Contract Year Rabiot.
- I love Nicolo Fagioli. I really do! But he had so many misplaced passes or turnovers in the first half that I was kinda surprised that he wasn’t yanked for Fabio Miretti sooner. Maybe Allegri decided he’d give him a little bit of run in the second half to see if he could snap out of it — and he did to an extent — but this was not the positive showing overall like Nicky Beans had against Lecce.
- It’s CDK false 9 SZN, folks.
- I’ll take Manuel Locatelli completing over 90 percent of his passes, completing almost every long ball he attempted and finishing with a limited amount of turnovers. Yeah, I’ll take that more often than not.
- I woulda felt really, really bad for Szczesny if he had gone from making that massive save on Muriel to coughing up the likely game-winning goal within the span of a few minutes. Like, really bad. That is the high of highs — just look at how he reacted to making that save — to the lowest of lows like he experienced last weekend at the Mapei.
- This team looks tired. Hopefully the full week between the trip to Bergamo and the Turin derby ends up helping out because I’m guessing a so-so performance against Torino isn’t exactly going to sit well with a lot of folks.