There was a time when Juventus against AC Milan was one of the highlight games of the calendar across the continent. And then there was a time when the Rossoneri were going through internal struggles while Juve were busy winning the Scudetto every year. Then there’s now, when the Bianconeri are entering a period of rebuilding and transition, with little money to spend and very little to build upon either.
Thus was the game against Milan on Sunday evening as a checked-out Juventus side barely posed a threat at home to let the visitors walk away with guaranteeing Champions League qualification at their own expense.
Speaking after the defeat, Massimiliano Allegri struck a despondent note.
“I thanked the lads after the game, because it has been an extraordinary season and we must try to close it with honour in Udine. I don’t wish this season upon anyone, seeing points taken away, given back, taken again.
“The performance tonight was all we could do. It has been an anomalous season, that is obvious to everyone. People say that Juventus failed this season, but we still managed to amass 69 points, despite everything that happened.”
Despite starting an attacking trio of Federico Chiesa, Moise Kean up top and Angel Di Maria on the opposite flank, Juve barely created any chances of note.
“It’s sad to say it, but our season ended in Seville. That is where we ran out of mental energy. We got the marking wrong on the cross and Giroud scored a great header, but it was still a goal we could’ve avoided.
“As I said, it has been an anomalous season, the team put together 69 points, so we should be proud and thank them for what they did. If what happened off the field had not happened, we’d still be qualified for the Champions League.”
What comes next for this Juventus squad?
“The main thing now is just to rest, the sooner, the better. After the Udinese game, we must calmly evaluate and realise there are good foundations, it is not all to be thrown away. The biggest mistake would be getting rid of those foundations when building the future of Juventus.
“My primary hope is that before August 20 this time we are told how many points we are penalised rather than going back and forth constantly.
“When I returned, I knew it was difficult to win, I am not so stupid as to think otherwise. If I had wanted to win, I’d have gone elsewhere. I came back because the family and the club needed me.
“There are some teams who spent six years without being in the top four. On the field, we were in third place. We played the Europa League semi-final and the Coppa Italia semi-final.
“Football gives, football takes away, just like life. We will emerge fortified from this situation. But some teams qualified for the Champions League because we had 10 points taken away. Everyone can agree on that, can’t they?”
That said, how long does he think it will take for Juve to start contending for the Scudetto again?
“We must not mistake ambition with capability, Juventus must always have the ambition to win, but there are other clubs too. It has been a strong nine years, we haven’t won for the last three seasons. Now we must try to conclude the season in the best way.”