There are a lot of instances on this blog over the last couple of seasons in which I’ve struggled to find new ways to describe the same kinds of things happening over and over again. So, please, if you’ve heard me say this before, dear reader, I apologize, but I feel like I’m about to repeat myself again.
Juventus wasn’t able to take advantage of their first-half chances in front of goal. The team that was facing Juventus on Sunday night, AC Milan, ended up taking a lead on one of their few chances in front of goal.
Yep, I’ve definitely typed out something like that before. And against Milan during the final game of the 2022-23 season at a very quiet and eery Allianz Stadium, that was the story and what led to Juventus falling 1-0 as Serie A’s final Champions League spot was locked into place with one game to go. Juve attempted nearly twice as many shots as their visitors from the San Siro, but Milan keeper Mike Magnian was rarely troubled outside of one difficult first-half save.
As Milan sees their spot in the Champions League secured, Juventus officially sees it disappear for the first time in a decade.
The reaction on Juventus players’ faces said it all after the final whistle: they’re fried — mentally, physically, emotionally, however you want to spin it. This season has been nothing close to normal — and that’s even taking out the fact that the whole thing was put on hold for nearly two months because of the midseason World Cup in Qatar.
No, this season has been brutal for a whole lot of reasons other than just a 1-0 loss at home to Milan, one that meant the Rossoneri have swept the season series from Juve for the third time in the last 50 years. It’s exhausting even for those of us who are on the outside looking in and watching from thousands of miles away. For those inside and experiencing it every single day, you have to believe that they’ve reached the maximum amount of bandwidth weeks ago.
But they needed to try and ramp it up for one last — yet very much outside — chance to try and get into the top four.
That effort was very much not the one needed to beat a Milan side that wasn’t great by any means Sunday night, but was able to do enough to get the job done in Turin.
Those kinds of performances have been far too often this season. So as we hit the final days of the 2022-23 season, to see another one like the one we saw against Milan isn’t a surprise. And to know that this team is essentially running on fumes just like they were earlier in the week against Empoli, this team was going to simply struggle to hit a low bar.
Yet, in stoppage time, they were an unintentional block away from pulling even with Milan.
So, yeah. I don’t get it. This was a winnable game that had a hugely weird atmosphere at the Allianz because the ultras in the Curva Sud were protesting and Juventus couldn’t really test one of the best keepers in the world. It was a vastly different kind of performance than we saw from last season’s final home game — and even that game had a whole lot of unique and uncomfortable things going on as things played out.
Yet as I watched this, I just kept thinking about how this Juventus team looked absolutely gassed. There was no spark. There was no real feeling that I got that something good was going to happen at some point. That gut feeling of “Yeah, they’re going to score eventually” never popped into my system. Not once, honestly. I was watching, but it was check out because it was far from something that was enthralling or even close to a good watch.
Juve players are tired. We’re tired watching this team. Just let the summer begin already.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Boy, that stadium atmosphere was weird.
- I know why they chose this game as the one to protest — Juve-Milan is going to get a lot of eyeballs on it and the last home game of the season will be big no matter what. But maybe read the room a little bit? In a season of off-field drama aplenty, protesting ticket prices really needed to happen now? This weekend? I dunno.
- Some points in that game gave me flashbacks to the post-lockdown empty stadiums of 2020 and and 2021 where you could hear EVERYTHING the managers were screaming. Weird, just totally weird.
- I just want Federico Chiesa to have a relaxing summer because he needs some time off to clear his mind and get right again.
- You could say that about pretty much every single Juventus player on this season’s roster, but y’all know how much I love Chiesa and I want the best for him.
- Was Angel Di Maria bad against Milan? Yeah, probably.
- Did Di Maria deserve to be whistled off the field when he was subbed out? Nah, probably not. That wasn’t a good move no matter what you think of Di Maria’s performances of late.
- Moise Kean had another solid game.
- Manuel Locatelli playing a more advanced role in this game would be a nice glimpse into the future with Nicolo Rovella coming back to Turin after a season on loan at Monza this summer. Hmmmmmm ... makes you think.
- I’m guessing Adrien Rabiot didn’t get a lap of honor after what everybody expects to be his last game in Turin. Thanks for the best season of your career, Adrien, and enjoy that Premier League payday.
- I saw a clip of Nicolo Fagioli on the sidelines before the game watching his teammates warming up and the young man looked so sad to not be out there. Poor kid.
- Bremer had to come off injured late in this one, so I am guessing that we will be seeing Leonardo Bonucci or Daniele Rugani in the final game of the season next weekend. If that doesn’t get you excited for potentially getting a spot in the top six, I don’t know what does.
- One of the few true positives that we can take out of this one was the performance of Federico Gatti playing on the same side of the field as Rafael Leao and Theo Hernandez and holding his own for much of the night. The more time that goes by, the more this dude who was in Serie C a couple of years ago is showing that he can hang at this level.
- Ninety more minutes of this season remains. Thank goodness.
- These players are beyond tired. So am I.