Less than a week after Juventus scored four goals in a thrilling comeback win over their crosstown rivals in the Derby della Mole, the Bianconeri authored a diametrically opposed performance in their most recent loss against Roma on Sunday night.
It was a tight affair with few scoring opportunities for both sides, but the ball bounced away from the visiting side as Roma came away with a hard-fought 1-0 win that threw a bucket of cold water on Juve’s aspirations towards sniffing the top four and getting closer to those coveted European spots.
LVP: Moise Kean
Less than one minute! The guy who was brought in to try and get something in front of goal in the dying minutes managed to get himself red carded in less than all of one minute!
Kean probably does not bear the brunt of the loss in this one — given that he played literally not one full minute — but you cannot possibly do something as bush league as what the still-young Italian international did. And especially as you are coming on to try and give your team a boost in the final few minutes.
This is yet another low in Kean’s season which has had more ups and downs than a Six Flags attraction. At its core, it’s this inconsistency that hasn’t really allowed Kean to become the player that we all hoped he could be ever since he broke out with the team a few years ago.
When you are reportedly getting a financial fine from the club on top of your regular run of the mill suspension for a red card it probably doesn't bode well for Kean’s Juventus future. Whenever Arek Milik is back, I think it’s safe to assume Kean is going to be spending a healthy amount of time on the bench.
The Dusan Vlahovic Question
Juve’s No. 9 had all of 18 touches in the game and was essentially a non-factor in a game that could have really used him being a factor. It’s worth mentioning that Juventus currently doesn’t play the most free-flowing, offensively-inclined style of football which decidedly has an impact on the level of performances we are seeing from Vlahovic.
But, with all that being said: Shouldn’t Vlahovic be more important in these kinds of games? Or in the season as a whole?
No one denies that the young Serbian striker has a lot of talent — he has shown that both with the Juventus jersey and in his previous stop at Fiorentina. It’s this talent that enticed Juventus to shell out a record-breaking sum for a January transfer to acquire his services. A sum — and the expectations that go with it — that said to the world that this guy was an angular piece in the project and someone to build around.
Yet, we haven’t really seen him be that guy on a consistent enough basis.
He has all of 10 goals to his name as the main striker for this team and has too often authored anonymous performances as the point of reference of the attack. Again, the main argument could be that Max Allegri’s tactics are not doing him any favors — and that’s not a meritless take — and that he’s not getting service and therefore he is relatively blameless in this whole thing. But, if you are supposed to be the next great Juve striker, you’d expect him to have more of an impact regardless, no?
(That’s what truly elite players do. As much as Cristiano Ronaldo had a black and white — get it? — tenure as a Juve player, he could be having a bad game only to have one truly great moment and end up making a difference. I’m not saying Vlahovic needs to be at that level, but it’s an example of what I’m talking about.)
For argument’s sake, the other two strikers on the team, Kean and Milik, have seven and eight goals on the season, respectively, in fewer minutes than the multimillion euro man has. Once again, men lie, women lie, numbers don't. Vlahovic has 10 goals in 1,877 minutes, Kean has seven in 1,090 and Milik has eight in 1,463.
Nobody is posting elite numbers, but Milik and Vlahovic are posting almost the same production. One goal per 188 minutes for Vlahovic and one goal per 183 for Milik. The much-maligned Kean has been the most effective with a score every 156 minutes.
This is not a “Sell Vlahovic NOW!” argument. He’s still young and it has been a tough season for pretty much everyone in a Juventus jersey. But it is an argument for demanding more from a guy that should be held to a higher standard. Because, if an inconsistent young player and a solid journeyman striker are posting similar production then the guy that’s supposed to be the crown jewel of the new Juventus something is wrong.
Hard Day’s Night
A common adjective of Juve’s effort on Sunday — especially the second half — was lackluster. That’s part due to Roma’s solid and frustratingly good defensive effort, but it’s also worth noting the absolute brutal schedule that Juventus is currently on thanks to their participation in the Europa League.
Thursday night lights are not for everyone and its fair to say that thanks to these games and how they have switched the schedule around the Bianconeri players are being put through the wringer in terms of workload. Some heavy legs — especially in weeks when they are playing twice — are sort of to be expected.
Juventus is a deep team and they are going to be better suited than most to sustain this barrage of fixtures. It’s also the price to pay in order to be involved in continental competitions and in the domestic cup as well.
Parting Shot of the Week
The odds of Juve clawing back into European spots in the league were slim, but a big part of that puzzle was beating a direct competitor in Roma to make it happen. With this result, however, they fall to 12 points from fourth place and now depend heavily on other teams falling off a cliff.
On the bright side, though, Atalanta are not that far away in sixth place, so ... who’s ready for some crazy Conference League action next season?
See you Thursday.