Over the course of the last 180 minutes, Juventus has played with fire more than anybody would have liked to see. A 1-0 lead is always going to be precious these days for Juve, but it’s even more of the case when your tactics are very much swaying to the conservative side or your simply unlucky when you’re in front of goal.
And what happens when your team slows things down and can’t finish their chances?
Well, might as well look at Juventus’ night on Thursday as a prime example.
Juventus got up in the 13th minute thanks to a brilliant team goal that saw all three members of the DVC trident combine in one way or another and looked to be potentially headed toward a big win over a completely unimpressive Nantes side. But that’s where things stayed in terms of Juve finding the back of the net. And, as things tend to happen when the Bianconeri have a 1-0 lead, things can go wrong — and they did. An end-to-end counterattack from Nantes plus a VAR call on a shoulda-been handball in second-half stoppage time that again had people wondering what the heck is going on with this kind of technology meant Juventus will head to France level 1-1 on aggregate and needing a win to continue its Europa League journey.
Like we said on the podcast this week, the last thing Juve need to see happen is to give Nantes some sort of hope heading into next week’s second leg and run the risk of even more stupidity happening with advancement on the line.
That’s what we got on Thursday night.
It’s on Max Allegri. It’s on the players for not being able to score more than one goal on a night in which they should have put Nantes away early when the yellow-clad French side was on the ropes in the first half. It’s on the ball for not crossing the line when Federico Chiesa hammered a shot off the crossbar and then the upright a millisecond later. It’s on the referees and the VAR room. It’s on just about everybody who was involved in this one because there’s not one singular person to blame for this.
Both Allegri himself and Danilo have said the same thing following the final whistle — Juventus started well, then slowed things down before picking things back up after Nantes tied the game. And that’s the biggest issue to come out of this result. Juve should have scored more than one goal after Vlahovic opened the scoring. Yet, they didn’t. That’s partly because of some ineffectiveness in front of goal. It’s also because of slowing it down and not keeping their foot on the gas after getting the 1-0 lead.
Basically, this is how the numbers played out:
- Juventus scored in the 13th minute.
- Nantes scored in the 63rd minute.
- In those 50 minutes between goals, Juventus had all of five shots. Five!
Some of those scoring chances were better than others. But not getting a second goal and furthering Nantes’ deficit rather than letting the visitors hang around turned back to bite Juve in the backside. (Basically the same kind of thing like happened over the weekend against Fiorentina with only VAR bailing Allegri’s team out.)
In short, I guess what I’m trying to say is that with how the first half was playing out, Juventus shouldn’t have been relying on a stoppage-time PK call that never came about to score the game-winning goal. This is one that should have been put away long before that. Instead, old problems came back to haunt Juventus yet again.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: This edition of Juventus doesn’t have the overpowering margins to get away with the mistakes the team makes. They are their own worst enemies at times and that means they have very little room for error.
As we found out on Thursday night, that margin for error is just one powerful counterattack that nobody was able to slow down. Because of it, Juve head to France next week with everything in the Europa League still very much up in the air.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- I still have no idea how Federico Chiesa didn’t score. That ball ... that stupid, stupid ball.
- I think Chiesa’s reaction to trying to figure out how that ball didn’t cross the line was pretty much how all of us felt about that exact moment as well as much of that game.
- Dusan Vlahovic finished with 31 touches. Our guy was spoiled with service! Or something like that.
- I understand the desire to rest Manuel Locatelli since he’s been playing a whole lot of minutes since everybody came back from the World Cup break. I don’t understand resting him in this game when you’ve got a relegation battler on the schedule over the weekend.
- Basically, handing Leandro Paredes 60-something minutes of playing time in an important game like this one just doesn’t make much sense to me.
- Then I look up Paredes’ stats and they’re pretty solid across the board. Not great, but not a complete dumpster fire, either. So, what do I know, right?
- Nantes finished with one shot on goal.
- Nantes scored its one shot on goal.
- Juventus, meanwhile, couldn’t put Nantes away and therefore paid dearly for that one shot on goal from the visitors.
- Bremer is a very good defender and I glad he is a Juventus player, but his mistakes seem to be BAD mistakes when he makes them. He got absolutely cooked on the Nantes goal.
- Angel Di Maria and Vlahovic did not look very happy after their respective substitutions. I don’t know if that’s because the game was going the way it was or they didn’t want to come off, but there was definitely a little tension there as Max Allegri went into to say a few words of encouragement when they crossed the touch line.
- For the record, I would love to see Di Maria, Chiesa and Vlahovic combine for goals like that all the time because that was both pretty and really, really cool to see. Just three top shelf players doing what top shelf players do.
- Juventus had as many shots off target as shots on target. That ain’t gonna get it done.
- Juventus had all of two big chances, according to SofaScore. That ain’t gonna get it done, either, folks.
- Filip Kostic played less than half an hour. He attempted about 17,000 crosses.
- I don’t know how many times I thought “SHOOT THE BALL!” whenever a Juve player didn’t shoot the ball in the final 20 minutes. Just one of those days.
- This team makes me grumpy. I don’t know what else to say.
- I do know something else to say: This team makes me tired. It’s just like they’re jumping from one problem to another each game. It’s like they’re flawed or something.
- In conclusion: Watch how Nantes’ players reacted at the final and how Juve players reacted at the final whistle. It will tell you all you need to know about the result. One team was thrilled while the other team — playing at home, by the way! — was far from thrilled.