Villarreal beat Juventus soundly in the second leg of their UCL match
While the match was scoreless until later on in the game, with the tie locked at 1-1 on aggregate until the 78th minute, Villarreal waited cunningly for their moments, their chances, and took advantage of mistakes from the home side. Juventus are out of the Champions League in the round of 16 once again, and Massimiliano Allegri will, also once again, face criticism, both fair and unfair for this failure.
Chances arrived in the first half, but none were converted by the home side, and so they have once again squandered a marvellous opportunity to get into the last eight of the UCL. Villarreal knew they had to shut down the most influential of the Juventus starting XI, and they were able to silence the likes of Dusan Vlahovic, Alvaro Morata, Manuel Locatelli, and everyone else for that matter.
Yet now, this team must focus solely on domestic innovations; staying in the top four of Serie A and winning the Coppa Italia must be the ambition now. That journey continues on Sunday when the Old Lady faces Salernitana – once again in Turin – with a chance to add another three points to their Serie A total.
With the Bianconeri looking to do the double over their last-place opponents, they must come out with a real sense of purpose after the unfortunate midweek showing against Villarreal.
Juventus must take out their angst on Salernitana
As had been discussed in the build-up to the match, Juventus were going to have to get sharp against all of the teams ahead of the second leg versus Villarreal. Yet beating and getting by those lesser opponents did not and probably could not prepare the Old Lady for what they faced midweek.
Now that this team’s UCL season is over for this year, Juventus must go back to beating up on the bottom-feeding teams of Serie A. While this will not erase or fix those mistakes that were made against Unai Emery’s Yellow Submarine that led to Juventus’s ouster from that tournament, it will further this team’s ambitions to be back in that competition next season.
It will be little consolation for the fans as well, but it is the best that can be done in the current situation. A sound drumming of Salernitana will make all the players and supporters feel quite good about themselves once again, and that is important at this point in the campaign. Getting knocked out of a big competition always hurts, but Juventus must dust themselves off and keep fighting onward and upward.
This team will be at its best in the years to come when it can be as dynamic and fluid as, say, Bayern Munich, Liverpool or Manchester City. Those clubs get production on their best days from a whole cast of characters and are therefore stronger, more intense and difficult sides to matchup against as a result. As it stands, though, Juventus are light years behind the current crop of supergiants.
Nevertheless, Sunday’s contest against Salernitana hands the Bianconeri the opportunity to let off some steam. However, they must match the desire and grit of the visitors, who are fighting for their lives at the bottom of Serie A. They’ll be desperate to pull off a historic victory at the Allianz Stadium just like the likes of Benevento, Empoli and Sassuolo have in recent years.
Simultaneously, of course, the Old Lady has an incentive of their own, with third-place within grasp following Inter’s draw against Fiorentina on Saturday evening. And following Milan’s 1-0 win over Cagliari a few hours later, Juventus must win on Sunday to stay in the Scudetto race. The Rossoneri’s victory extended their lead over Juve to ten points for the time being.
How Juventus grow in these final months of this season will go a long way in determining what sort of outfit can be expected to be seen next season. Will Max Allegri return? Who might be on the way out in terms of players? How can the club overcome its current financial issues if it cannot get out of the round of 16 year after year in the UCL? These are all questions that will be inspected over the coming months undoubtedly, and their answers will surely be clearer by then as well.