There are games in which Max Allegri can be the first person you point the finger at when it comes to Juventus’ struggles. The tactics, the approach, the ultra-defensive setup that prevents Juventus from getting multiple good looks on goal because they’re more interested in protecting the 1-0 lead that they have — it’s all a game of connect the dots that comes back to the guy filling out the starting lineup.
On Thursday night, Juventus was not held back by the man who is the highest paid in his position in Serie A.
Instead, Juventus’ finishing in front of goal was the kind that leaves you wondering what could have been and what should have been.
No matter if it was shots off the post, shots just wide or shots that should have been on goal completely shanked because somebody got too cute with it, Juventus couldn’t take advantage of some of the best scoring chances that either team saw. Because of it, a Dusan Vlahovic second-half goal just after he came on was the only lead Juve could muster as they fell victim to goals from a pair of Serie A exes, Suso and Erik Lamela, that allowed Sevilla to win 2-1 in extra time and 3-2 on aggregate.
It was just that kind of night. A frustrating and aggravating kind of night.
There were moments where Juve had to hang on for dear life both before they scored and after Sevilla scored via Suso to tie things up. If it wasn’t for Wojciech Szczesny and his handful of world-class saves, this would have probably been a much different final score that didn’t need to go into extra time.
But you know what would have also made things different?
If Angel Di Maria just tried the routine rather than trying to chip the keeper and subsequently shanking the hell out of his 1-on-1 chance in the first half. Or if Federico Gatti’s header was a little more to the left or the right and not saved. Or if surprise starter Moise Kean hadn’t seen his shot partially saved and then clang off the post in the first half. Or if Adrien Rabiot had done more with his pair of scoring chances in the second half.
I could probably go on, but I will stop there.
The worry coming into the night was that Allegri would have Juventus sitting so far back and play so conservatively that things would look a lot like the first 45 minutes in Turin last week. Instead, what played out was, honestly, a thrilling game no matter if you had rooting interests or not. It was end to end at times, while others had Juventus pinned back and Szczesny working magic in goal.
Sevilla outshot Juventus 28-17. They had more possession, 59-41.
But, according to SofaScore, Juventus had both the greater number of big chances (3-0) and had a higher xG (1.65) than Sevilla. Sometimes the advanced stats tell the whole story, but there’s a reason why Juve had the best chances of the night — it’s because they did.
They just couldn’t finish them outside of Vlahovic’s goal, one that itself was a very nice finish as he worked his way through the Sevilla defense.
Because of it, Juventus’ run in the Europa League ends at one hell of an atmosphere in Seville. I don’t doubt that there are folks that will say Sevilla were the better team over two legs — they really only played poorly for the second 45 minutes (if that) in Turin — and that is the truth.
Juventus had a chance to win on Thursday night and they couldn’t get it done. As Allegri said after the game, things came down to the details. And when you look at it, that is very much a direct opinion on Juve’s finish in front of goal. You score once or twice more, you’re booking tickets to Budapest and facing one of your biggest Serie A rivals for the Europa League title.
Instead, Juve will be watching from home and now officially realizing a second season without silverware is coming to its final couple of weeks.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Angel, my man, just do the smart rather than the spectacular. It would have meant so much.
- So Moise Kean got a rather harmless yellow card early in the first half yet the dude who slams into Nicolo Fagioli and ends his night — and reportedly broke his collarbone in the process — got absolutely nothing? The refereeing got more and more suspect as the first half went on.
- It’s awful that Fagioli’s night had to end like that because he was playing great up until that point. The kid was up for it, but there’s nothing you can really do when somebody slams into you with that kind of force other than brace yourself and hope for the best. Unfortunately, it seems as though Fagioli’s promising 2022-23 season ended in Seville.
- Need to look no further than Juan Cuadrado getting super, super, super lucky to have nothing called on him for that out of control tackle on Bryan Gil right on the edge of the penalty area. Like, what you doing, man?
- Danilo in the first half: Six clearances and four tackles. That’s a lot!
- Some of those saves Tek made ... my word. How he made that first one at the near post and kept the ball from completely crossing the goal line, that was pretty. Same goes for the couple that he tipped over the crossbar. That was a keeper who was playing as good as he possibly could have.
- Then Suso unleashes a shot like that to tie things up and there’s really nothing more Szczesny could have done.
- Speaking of that Suso goal, that’s on Federico Chiesa. You just can’t turn it over like the way he did and basically gift-wrap Sevilla a scoring chance in the final third.
- It was just a tough night overall for Chiesa, who I think could benefit from a few weeks off at season end just to clear his mind of the post-injury frustrations and just reset before preseason training starts in July. You can tell he’s pressing at times and sometimes that leads to bad and un-Chiesa-like things to happen.
- Juventus’ second corner of the game came in the 85th minute.
- Sevilla’s 17TH corner of the game came in the 88th minute.
- Juventus’ team defending on the Lamela goal that ended up winning it ... that left a whole lot to be desired. Rabiot could have tracked him better. Any midfielder should have tracked him better, for that matter. Danilo was just a little late in sliding over to try and win the header. It was just rough all the way around.
- Allegri starting Kean ended up being the right call.
- Allegri starting Samuel Iling-Junior also ended up being the right call.
- Giving Iling-Junior more playing time over the last couple of weeks than he had previously gotten all season is a nice development but also one, in hindsight, wish would have happened a lot sooner.
- There were just so many close calls in front of goal. So, so many.
- For as good as Fagioli was playing, I don’t think we can say the same about Fabio Miretti’s sub appearance. That’s just what happens with young players sometimes. They either are a hit or they’re not. And this one is definitely in Miretti’s “Not” column.
- Bremer finished with 10 clearances. Ten! And he won all but two of his aerial duels. Big man, big man.
- Who’s ready for a total letdown of a performance against Empoli on Monday? I know I am!
- Who knew that Juventus getting eliminated from the Europa League could be so much of a stinger for so many of us. Yet, it is. That’s what happens when you’re so close to a European final and can’t finish the job. Just couldn’t close against the masters of this competition.