After two absolute duds against Empoli and Milan, one had to wonder what Juventus were going to bring to the table in Sunday night’s season finale against Udinese. That’s mainly because there was actually something to play for at the Dacia Arena, with scoreboard watching for those of us sitting in front of laptop screens almost as constant as what was happening on the field in Udine.
For much of the night, the execution was lacking.
Then Federico Chiesa gave us a little glimpse of the good times prior to his knee going pop a year and a half ago.
It wasn’t left as late as the first time Juventus and Udinese played one another this season, but it took until the final 20 minutes for the scoreless deadlock to be broken. There was Chiesa, with the familiar kind of turn and shot that we’ve come to love from him, scoring the lone goal in Juve’s 1-0 win over Udinese at the Dacia Arena. The result, at the time of Chiesa’s shot hitting the back of the net, put Juventus in place to qualify for the Europa League (barring future UEFA punishment, of course).
But about 20 minutes later, an old friend crashed any sort of party that Juve might be thinking about.
The same Paulo Dybala in which Juventus said goodbye to this time last year scored the goal from the penalty spot that gave Roma the lead over Spezia and kicked Juve back down to seventh place in the live table. Roma won 2-1, Spezia headed toward the relegation playoff next week and, most importantly for all of us, Juve finished seventh and will play in the Conference League next season until further notice.
And with that ... it’s all over.
Thank goodness. It’s been a year — and not in a good way.
To quote the great Sam Gerrard in The Fugitive, “You know, I’m glad. I need the rest.”
That’s just the vibe that we had coming into the final game of the season. Maybe it’s because of how the last couple of games have gone. Maybe it’s because how things have gone on the field for much of the season. Maybe it’s because how things went off the field the last six or seven months. Maybe it’s because of the fact that the feeling is not matter where Juve finished in the standings the hammer is set to drop from UEFA. I really don’t know. Everybody is different and has their different view of things.
But when it comes to this specific day, it resembled that of two years ago against Bologna where Juventus needed help to get the European spot that was still for the taking that they so desired. On that day in 2021, Juve got the help they needed. On this day, they didn’t.
Of course, this was simply because of the 10-point penalty that was handed down two weeks ago. If there’s no points penalty, Juve finish on 72 points and in a Champions League spot. But because of the points penalty, they’ve finished in seventh place for the first time since the Gigi Delneri days and qualified for the Conference League.
God, what a season.
What a horribly forsaken season in which not much good happened.
Thank goodness it’s all over. Let’s just hope UEFA releases their sporting penalty soon because the last thing we need is for something else from this season to linger on into the summer months much longer than we want to see.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- 72 sul campo, right?
- And now ... summertime. Should be relaxing!
- No, this summer is not going to be relaxing. It will likely be disappointing, frustrating, or whatever kind of word you can think of that doesn’t fall into “positive” territory. It’s going to be a tough few months because of what’a afoot, and that doesn’t sound all that enticing.
- You’ll notice that I’m about 700 words into this post and I’ve barely talked about Juventus’ game against Udinese. There’s a reason for that — there’s just not much to talk about.
- What ... you want to hear about how many corners Juve had in the first half and how they squandered every single one of them? Or how Juve’s finishing in front of goal bar Chiesa’s goal was pretty meh at best? It was just one of those games where there’s just not much to talk about because it was a pretty drab game overall.
- Let’s face it, a short recap could go like this: Juventus missed chances, then they scored a goal and then dropped into a shell as Udinese dominated the last 10-15 minutes. There you go!
- Here’s another thing: If it wasn’t for a couple of really good saves from Wojciech Szczesny, this could have been a 1-1 draw or even a Udinese win. That, my friends, would have been rather fitting for how this season has gone.
- Another game in which Filip Kostic got the early hook. Unless he’s been playing with an injury that we don’t know about, that is not exactly the way to finish out a season.
- Leandro Paredes snuck in one last yellow card before he heads back to Paris Saint-Germain. What a guy. Hope you enjoyed your €7.5 million net worth of checks from Juve this season.
- Adrien Rabiot’s parting gift was a clear chance on goal in which he chose to shoot ... with his right foot.
- Samuel Iling-Junior is fun and I hope he gets a lot more playing time next season.
- That Iling-Junior, Manuel Locatelli, Federico Chiesa combination on the goal was nice.
- Juventus finished with 20 shots. They put all of five on them on frame. (And hit the post once.)
- I don’t know if the Leonardo Bonucci last-minute sub means anything other than Max Allegri wanting to give his captain a little shine after a tough season, but the match announcer on my feed was doing a bit of speculation as to whether he could be retiring a year earlier than he said a few weeks ago. Like so many other things to do with this team, I guess we’ll see.
- Have I mentioned that the season is over yet? I think so.
- The most disappointing part of this game? We didn’t get the traditional Carlo Pinsoglio end-of-season appearance in the second half. Just another thing to add to the list.
- Rest up, folks, because there’s bound to be a lot happening these next few weeks. Can’t you tell that I’m extremely excited for that to begin? Yeah, totally excited. So, so excited.