Juventus: Federico Bernardeschi is fine when you reassess expectations

Federico Bernardeschi of Juventus (Photo by Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)
Federico Bernardeschi of Juventus (Photo by Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images) /

In 2016-2017, Federico Bernardeschi scored 11 goals with four assists for Fiorentina, earning himself a big move to Juventus. Fans have been expecting Bernardeschi to reach that level in Turin, but over the years, he has failed to produce or establish weekly consistency.

It’s a difficult situation for Bernardeschi, because we know he is still capable of playing at a relatively high level, given his performances for the Italian national team. Is it a confidence issue? Very likely, just looking at the situation from an outsider’s perspective.

But sometimes, the best thing fans can do is readjust their expectations of a player when they have fallen below a certain standard for so long. Once we readjust our expectations from, say, “Fiorentina Bernardeschi” to “squad player Bernardeschi”, I think we’ll find that the 27-year-old can be an asset to Andrea Pirlo’s Juve.

Let’s highlight the two recent 3-0 and 3-1 wins over Spezia and Lazio, respectively. In the first match, Bernardeschi was a hero off the bench, creating two goals and recording three key passes, according to WhoScored.com. And then against Lazio, Bernardeschi started the full 90 at left back and put in a good shift, working hard to win four fouls for his team.

Juventus might not have a better option on the left side than Federico Bernardeschi

Those two performances show the different ways Bernardeschi can help this team. He can boost the attack off the bench by creating chances, and he can cover for the team at left back in a pinch. Bernardeschi isn’t going to out-technique our out-skill the opposition, but he sure as hell is going to out-work them. And an elite club like Juventus can always use a player like that in the squad.

There is also the matter of positional importance. Juventus don’t have a better left-footed, leftsided wide midfielder than Bernardeschi. Dejan Kulusevski is a left-footed winger who is better on the right. Federico Chiesa can play on the left, but he is more effective on the right. Alex Sandro is better at center back than at left midfielder, as he is a defensive left back.

So in a 4-4-2 or even a 3-5-2, Bernardeschi might even be the best option on that left-hand side if Chiesa starts on the right. That inherently makes Bernardeschi useful to Juventus, aside from his potential impact in a backup role or even as a spot-starter at left back.

Ideally, Juve will upgrade the left side of their formation in the transfer window this summer, though the “ideal world” is a difficult state to reach during the pandemic, noting the economic impact it has had. Doing so would alleviate pressure off Bernardeschi to be the “best option” on the left, which, in turn, can ease the burden of expectations, even if it’s just temporary relief that would help rebuild Bernardeschi’s confidence.

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Regardless, Bernardeschi isn’t “all bad”, as some frustrated fans would have you think. There’s no use in overpraising him and stating that he can be a difference-maker or a regular starter for Juventus, because we cannot make that claim on the basis of the data. But we can, using his recent performances, state that he can help the squad in a small, but significant, way. Given Juve’s aspirations in an increasingly difficult Serie A, that little bit matters.

Of course, I would not put it past Pirlo to get something more out of Bernardeschi as the season continues. The next starting left back? I would not put it out of the realm of possibilities.