Top four focus
Hysteria emerged in the Italian media after Juve’s victory over Hellas Verona last weekend. The club’s ‘victory’ in the January transfer window combined with the dream debuts of Dusan Vlahovic and Denis Zakaria had some dreaming/fearing of a late Scudetto charge from Piedmont’s big bad beast.
The gap had been reduced to single digits and while Old Juve were hesitant to place the Bianconeri in the Scudetto fight last week, a favourable Matchday 25 for the Old Lady could see them emerge as an outsider.
Napoli’s draw with Inter handed them an opening as AC Milan went top on Sunday, but Juventus failed to deliver the requisite three points that would further induce the anxiety of supporters outside of Turin. However, the Old Lady faltered once more against tough opposition to further undermine my “built for the big occasion” take.
Juve’s draw in Bergamo was their fifth against Serie A’s current top six this season. In the other three meetings, the Bianconeri lost twice and won once. Considering that Allegri’s approach during the first half of the season was predicated on winning one-off games, Juve simply had to turn at least three of those draws into victories to make up for their historically poor start to the domestic season.
The dreadful opening to 2021/22 left them with far too much to do in the context of the Scudetto race, especially after Inter Milan found their groove just before the winter. The holders are Allegri’s favourite to win it all and they’ll return to the summit if they win their game in hand over Milan. Saturday’s point in Naples may prove to be an important one when it’s all said and done.
For Juve, Sunday’s draw will further quieten the murmurs of a Scudetto charge with their primary focus becoming abundantly clear once more. Securing a top-four spot is the priority, and they’ll be confident of grabbing it after keeping their noses in front of La Dea.
However, Gasperini’s side showed signs of life on Sunday following weeks of indifference and while big injuries will likely prove costly, they depicted their credentials against the Old Lady.