Juventus are good, but they are not great, especially against teams that are not good, but great
The teams that Juventus beat across a typical Serie A campaign are largely good teams. Some aren’t so good, but for the most part, there is strong competition in Italy and the games are never the easiest. Juventus are a top-four Serie A side for a few reasons, but they’re also not a top-three side for other reasons too.
The Bianconeri simply cannot beat the very best domestic competition – like, at all – and will be looking to keep a surging Roma off of their heels so that they do not find themselves out of the Champions League places. This is the same problem that reared its head when Juventus had to seal the deal against Villarreal in the UCL round of 16, and it is once again creating problems and frustrations for this team as it works to grow and move forward.
This is a side in some form of transitional period, and Max Allegri will be looking to salvage something from an underwhelming campaign by winning the Coppa Italia, as Andrea Pirlo did last season. While next year could be better if the right players and purchased and the requisite tactical innovations occur – either with Allegri or a new boss – it has been a disappointing season, to put it mildly.
Juventus must show more against Inter, amongst the top clubs in Italian football
While this Juventus team will end this season with no wins against a side of that top-three talent and ambition, what is most shocking to many supporters is the form that the Old Lady has demonstrated against great rival Inter. Allegri once again labelled Simone Inzaghi’s side as the favourites for the Scudetto after the 1-0 victory in Turin, and unless Milan can put some distance between the two clubs, it seems likely that this is a fair statement to make.
Sunday was Inter Milan’s first victory at the Allianz Stadium since 2012, and it was the first time that they had completed the league double over the Bianconeri since the 2008/09 campaign. Yet as has been witnessed in the biggest matchups across Italy and Europe this season for this team, they are simply not good enough to beat talented, cohesive or well-coached outfits.
It’s in matches like against Villarreal and Inter that you really get to see which areas on the pitch the team needs the most improvement. When they can overpower teams with their own talent and ability, Dusan Vlahovic certainly does look like, to quote Max once more, one of the “strongest” of his generation.
But this talent is yet to manifest on the big occasion for the Bianconeri, and after drawing a blank on Sunday, Vlahovic has now failed to score in eight of his 12 Juve appearances. It’s not just Vlahovic, however. As a collective, Juventus are oftentimes swamped by a more cohesive and convicted style of football. In the match against Inter, all the same themes showed up once more for Juventus, especially in the second half as they were shut out by a stringent Inter rearguard.
Great players against good teams look only like good players against better competition.
If Juventus are to return to the pinnacle of calcio next season, their record against the very best Serie A has to offer must improve. Perhaps a more dynamic and aggressive style, as we saw for much of Sunday’s defeat, is required to overturn their fortunes.
Whether the boss returns to lead the rebuild is another question still, but Allegri clearly isn’t afraid of being fired, hired, and maybe fired again. It comes with the territory when you manage a major football club anywhere in the world, and Turin is no exception.
But on the other hand, there will be signings for the Old Lady, as there always are. No matter how dire the finances seem, they’re never too dire to make a move or two, and Juventus have this planned already of course. The entire team will look to next season to improve their form against the top teams in Italy and Europe, and until the summer and subsequent season, the Coppa Italia and a top-four finish remain the focuses for a team that won’t have to face the top Italian competition anymore in Serie A this season at least.