Yet another miserable European exit
Was this defeat the worst of the bunch? I don’t want to give in to recency bias, but I’d probably say yes.
An ageing Juventus could be given a pass for losing to a brilliant young Ajax side in the quarter-finals in 2019. Lyon and Porto, meanwhile, were both pretty average sides (in the context of the Champions League) but the Bianconeri headed into the second leg behind in the tie before eventually exiting on away goals on both occasions.
This time, Juve arrived in Turin with the tie all-square against a side that are currently seventh in their domestic league. The 3-0 victory certainly flattered the visitors, but there’s no escaping the embarrassment of the defeat. Their capitulation at the death was atypical of Juventus, especially of a Bianconeri side coached by Max Allegri. It’s pretty unprecedented, in fact.
Allegri’s side were never going to win the Champions League this season. The competition’s far too strong and even if they’d progressed on Wednesday night, Juve are still light years behind the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool.
But, this contest was so significant because of their recent eliminations at this stage of the competition. This was a chance for Juventus to rid the demons of 2020 and 2021; showing true signs of progress while doing so. But they failed miserably. It’s a damning defeat, one that’ll undoubtedly raise doubts over Allegri’s viability to lead the club’s rebuild. Such questions should arise in the summer no matter how the rest of the season plays out.
Nevertheless, Juventus still have plenty to play for before the season’s up. A strong domestic run has them in a prime position to not only secure a Champions League spot for 2022/23, but mount a late Scudetto charge as well. Silverware is still on offer in the form of the Coppa Italia, too, but the pressure will be sky-high for their semi-final second leg against Fiorentina.
For now, though, Salernitana on Sunday will be Allegri and Juventus’ sole focus.