One day I would enjoy going to Allianz Stadium. It’s a bucket list type of thing for every Juve fan, right? When — if? — that day ever comes, my only hope is that I can muster just a smidge more of excitement than the chosen few that actually were in attendance for Sunday night’s matchup between Juventus and AC Milan.
Technically, this game still had some ramifications for both teams. A win for the visitors would sow up a spot in the top four for them. For the home side, three points could put them in Europa League range for next season even with their revised points penalty.
Even if you take that out of the equation, this is Juventus vs. AC Milan! It’s two of the more storied teams in Italian football history. You shouldn’t need a lot of stakes to get up for this one, and yet that stadium was ... as silent as silent gets.
This isn’t to say that I blame the fans — for them to get loud, the team needs to give them something to root for. And the Bianconeri are currently completely incapable of that as they had another sleepwalk of a performance in Sunday’s 1-0 defeat that all but sealed their fate this season in terms of European competitions.
It’s a crawl to the finish, people.
LVP: Angel Di Maria
Look, Di Maria was fun for a stretch there, no?
For a while, when the season was on the come up and we still had hope, it sure looked like Juve’s strategy to bring him in during the summer paid off. Renewal talks were underway, he was scoring hat tricks in knockout matches in the Europa League. Oh, the halcyon days, indeed.
Di Maria’s form dipped after that stretch and never quite peaked again. In the last few matches, he’s just been there, mostly useless and this game was no exception.
In all fairness to El Fideo, he probably burnt out like so many other Juve players did during their brutal stretch of April and May — he is, after all, 35 years of age — and the contract renewal talks fell apart. His stint as a Juventus player will end with a whimper rather than a bang.
Man, but how fun was that Nantes match, though, huh?
Conference League or Bust
OK, this is half joking for two reasons.
Juventus could still very well sneak into the Europa League with a win in their final game and Atalanta dropping points. That’s in play, sure. That being said, there are no guarantees that either Juve actually has it in them to win another game this season or that UEFA does not decide to ban them from European competition anyway.
Either way, there’s a lot of permutations right now in the air, but all things considered it might not be the worst thing in the world to not make into any European competition this season after all.
(Or Conference League, which would be a great opportunity for just every Next Gen kid to get playing time. How about cold rainy nights in Cyprus, everyone?)
This team is obviously very much in need of a full rebuild and has been for a while. Now that the carrot of Champions League money is not being dangled in front of them, this is as good a time as any to finally do that.
This team is not completely devoid of talent, but it is devoid of elite level talent. This is not to say that some players in the team cannot get there some day — Nicolo Fagioli, Fabio Miretti, Federico Gatti, Samuel Iling-Junior and Maria Soule — that they have been there before and can return to that form — Federico Chiesa, Paul Pogba maybe Dusan Vlahovic? — or that they are close but not quite there like Gleison Bremer or Danilo.
I wouldn’t hate to see any other player not on that list out of the club, to be honest. It’s a fantastic time to see what you got in the young guys, it’s a great moment to experiment and try to build the next great Juventus team. If you have to miss on Europe for a couple of years, that foundation can set you up for the foreseeable future.
The time is now. Hopefully they understand that.
Unrelated Juventus Segment of the Week
I’m kind of tired of writing about this team. And considering the team itself seems to have checked out, there’s no reason why I shouldn't do the same. So here’s a few hundred words about my dog.
(Feel free to skip this segment. I mean it. I know I sometimes tend to write about something else and then sort of link it to something Juve-related by the end, but this is not one of those occasions.)
I think I talked about my dog before. Her name is Cane and she’s a 1-year-old mutt. She’s cute as a button but also horribly behaved because we felt — that’s me and the girlfriend — that we could raise her without any proper guidance ... which proved to be a grave mistake.
The one thing we did successfully teach her to do was to go do her business either on walks or on our small outside balcony since we live in an apartment. In all honesty, she kind of learned herself, and I don’t remember ever really teaching her how to do it, but she just got the hang of it pretty quick. Good dog.
Anyway, the way she lets us know she wants out is by pounding on the sliding crystal door that leads to the balcony with her paw. We get up, open it and she does what she has to do. This obviously led to Cane learning that the act of pounding on a door — any door — will lead to said door opening.
Most of it is fine, like when she pounds on the main entrance door because she wants to go on a walk. Other times do get dicey, like her constant banging when one is in the bathroom and her presence is decidedly not needed but she will get pissed that the door doesn't open anyway.
The funniest recurrent case is the elevator which she will start furiously pawing at the metal double doors within seconds of getting in and when it finally opens she will turn around and give a smug look like saying “Yeah, that’s all me right there.”
The paw thing has evolved into just a catch all for things that she wants at any moment. Mostly food or attention which is the — quite literally at times — bread and butter of any self respecting pup. So, now our meals are constantly interrupted by a small paw putting work into our arms to try and get a bite of whatever we cooked that day.
The paw is now a part of my day-to-day life — which for every time it gets annoying it gets adorable again immediately afterwards, Having a dog is fun.
Parting Shot of the Week
That’s kind of the only way I can describe the last few games for Juventus. The players seem tired. The fans are, too. And by god your correspondent is very much tired as well.
Juventus used to give us a lot of happiness not that long ago. That turned to frustration and anger more recently. I honestly prefer that anger to the current sensation of just not caring.
Thankfully, it’s almost done.
See you Sunday.