I’ll be honest: Expectations were not high coming into Wednesday night’s trip to the San Siro. That was me personally, and if you felt different than I respect you for being the optimistic person that I used to pride myself on. But the expectations were low because I did not expect Juventus — or, more specific, the man who is the manager — to go out and play the kind of way that would see his team potentially score multiple goals.
Then the opening 45 minutes happened.
And lemme tell you all something: Max Allegri’s choice in tactics were there to confirm any little bit of doubt that Juve could pull this off and beat Inter Milan to get into the Coppa Italia final.
I get that Juve were shorthanded in attack and Allegri was almost forced to start Federico Chiesa in the kind of position that he was never going to be suited to. I get it. I really do. But Juve’s attack, one that has been seemingly getting worse and worse as the last two months have gone by, threw up another stinker in a game that saw them chasing the score and needing to score multiple times for more than 75 minutes. Instead, Juventus’ makeshift and uninspiring attack could only muster three shots on target — none of them even coming close to challenging Andre Onana in goal — as they fell 1-0 on the night and 2-1 on aggregate to Inter at the San Siro.
That means all that’s left when it comes to trying to winning any sort of silverware is the Europa League — which certainly isn’t going to be easy against Sevilla and then if Juve can get past the tournament’s specialist.
If that doesn’t happen, then it’s two years out of two for Allegri 2.0 without a trophy.
As we know, managers in the recent history of Juventus were fired at the end of the season when they actually won something. Allegri could make it nothing in two years.
But the overarching theme of this night was just simply how toothless Juventus looked.
We’ve talked about it plenty of times here on the website and on the podcast: Allegri’s tactics the vast majority of the time means that Juve walk a tightrope in which one mistake may end up being the nail in the coffin. As turned out, it was a defensive mistake in the 15th minute that allowed Federico Dimarco to get behind Bremer and give Inter the lead.
Juventus were forced to chase. Considering how ineffective they have been going forward of late (and for much of the season), the need to score multiple goals to flip the aggregate scoreline back in their favor just felt like a mountain too tall to climb.
And what do you know ...
That shouldn’t be the case. Juventus looked better in the second half than they did before halftime, but that was simply because there was nowhere to go but up. It was bad — really, really bad. Chiesa was completely isolated up front and his skillset totally wasted. Di Maria wasn’t all that better. The midfield was all kinds of disjointed. Filip Kostic was sending crosses into either nobody or players like Chiesa and Fabio Miretti who aren’t threats in the air. Even as Inter went into their own defensive mindset as the second half went on, it’s not like Juventus came close to really troubling Onana all that much.
It was the latest example of how this team just doesn’t have a whole lot behind them and how their manager can be his own worst enemy. Juventus needed goals and they ended up barely putting anything on target.
It’s hard to score multiple goals when you’re barely able to test the opposing keeper.
But here we are again, sitting here after a dire Juventus performance wondering what’s next for this team as they hit the home stretch of the season. Currently, this team can barely score goals, is seeing even a defensive mindset exposed by good teams who know how to exploit it and a manager whose shortcomings are very much out there for everybody to see.
Something needs to change if Juve want to finish this season on a good note. I just don’t know how optimistic I am that they can actually make that happen.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Oof maddone that first half.
- Oof maddone that game as a whole.
- Both Inter goals over the course of the Coppa Italia semifinals came off mistakes by Bremer. They were two very different kinds of mistakes, but they were mistakes by Bremer nonetheless. He also had some other nervy moments, including getting shook by Edin Dzeko on a goal that was called off for offside. Bremer is very good, but these types of games need to happen less and less next season if he wants to take a big step forward.
- Federico Chiesa had nine touches in the first half. Somehow, it felt like less than that.
- I’m guessing there will be plenty of rage sent Allegri’s direction about the decision to have Arek Milik come off the bench rather than start him. Allegri eluded to Milik having some sort of physical issue during his pre-match press conference, and I guess that’s the confirmation that he felt like the best way to use the Polish striker was to have him come off the bench. Not like it drastically changed Juve’s fortunes in front of goal, though.
- Simone Inzaghi sure does know how to manage his team in cup competitions.
- Nicolo Barella is such a great player yet at the same is so damn annoying with all of his antics on the field.
- Mattia De Sciglio had Juve’s best scoring chance of the night. That might be all you need to know about what kind of performance in the attacking third it was for Juventus.
- Juventus had five shots total. Five.
- That one save Mattia Perin made midway through the second half to keep the score at 1-0 ... that was pretty damn beautiful. It’s nice having a backup goalkeeper who has easily been one of the best keepers in the league this season. (And if you don’t believe, go look at the advanced stats because they support my claim, thank you very much.)
- Filip Kostic attempted five cross in the first half. None of them were successful. I am definitely one who had no problem with him getting yanked at halftime.
- If you look at the heat maps of Chiesa and Angel Di Maria you will notice that either of them did much of anything in the Inter box. Hard to make goals happen like that.
- Di Maria had 75 touches?
- Leonardo Bonucci left the field screaming at somebody and I need to know more about this.
- Inter will be playing in the Champions League semifinals and for the Coppa Italia within the next few weeks. Meanwhile, Juventus face more uncertainty off the field and potentially another trophyless season. I don’t wanna say I’m jealous of Inter, but I wouldn’t mind swapping the situation the two arch-rivals find themselves in.
- In conclusion, that game was awful. It was simply awful.