Juventus could only scrape a late draw with Bologna at the weekend
A 1-1 draw, stolen at the very end of the match at home to a Bologna side that currently sits 13th in the Serie A table, will not encourage many Juventus supporters as this long season draws to a much-needed close.
Juventus’ dismal start to the season meant the Scudetto was always out of reach, while the club’s recent continental failure perpetuated under the manager that led them to the Champions League final as recently as 2017.
But the worst part of this season is the consistent trait of playing down to competition and failing to play up to superior or equal opposition. While it is understood that this team needs a major make-over, despite the financial issues currently hanging over Juventus, Max Allegri must take some responsibility for his side’s failings and the need for Dusan Vlahovic to constantly bail the Bianconeri out of predicaments.
While this team could’ve done many things better against Bologna, there are three things that I witnessed in particular which were lacking against that side over the weekend.
1. Lacklustre creativity in the build-up
The best teams in the world can create and dissect the weaker teams in their nations. That is just the bare facts of the matter, and this can be seen even in Serie A, of course, where the other top four teams routinely dispatch lesser opposition with little difficulty. But the midfield of Juventus, as decimated as it is, lacks creativity and ambition to connect the backline to players like Vlahovic or Alvaro Morata.
And so in this match, Paulo Dybala started by accompanying Vlahovic before eventually giving way to Federico Bernardeschi later in the match. Neither provided the type of assistance that Vlahovic will need going forward, and that was surprising to me, as even though Dybala will be leaving this team this summer, his talent remains unquestionable given the right circumstances. Turin is clearly no longer that place for him.
Danilo partnered Adrien Rabiot in the middle, while Juan Cuadrado performed a hybrid function off the right which saw him occupy the centre of the pitch more often than usual. Morata, meanwhile, drifted out wide on the left to offer a source of width with Juve’s full-backs rarely venturing high up the field.
Overall, Cuadrado looked uncomfortable in his new role as Juventus desperately struggled to progress the ball upfield efficiently. Danilo, who was arguably Juve’s best performer, offered some verticality, but Bologna’s three-man midfield combined with the Bianconeri’s lack of dynamic movement meant the home side provided little penetration between the lines.
Width was imperative to shifting the Rossublu’s 5-3-2 block, but Juve were bereft of it down the right, while Morata was never entirely comfortably hugging the touchline down the left. After half-time, Allegri instructed his full-backs to get higher up the pitch which almost paid dividends right away as Luca Pellegrini teed up Rabiot for a glorious chance before Marko Arnautovic opened the scoring.
However, Juve’s more daring approach out wide saw them become overly reliant on crosses as a source of chance creation. A superior balance must be struck in the second and final phases.
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