Fall of the Italian Giant – Juventus FC

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On April 3, 2018, an outrageous bicycle kick from Cristiano Ronaldo against Juventus FC might have gone down as the greatest goal ever scored in the Champions League. The technique, the timing and the importance of the goal certainly does not get better.

As he ran to the corner flag and celebrated with his signature “SSIII!!“, the hundreds of Juventus fans present rose for a standing ovation. They praised him, the man who lives for the big nights.

However, in every Juventus fan was one lingering thought: they must bid adieu to the Champions League yet again. Despite commanding the Serie A for close to a decade, the Old Lady has not gotten her hands on the coveted trophy.

Things start to go downhill

In that moment, the solution looked clear as day to Juventus management. Ronaldo had to be signed. Who else to help them make that final leap other than Mr. Champions League himself? Donning Real Madrid and Manchester United colors, the Portuguese had come in clutch so many times and led them to Champions League titles. Would he be the answer to this enigma?

Unfortunately, 3 seasons and 3 Champions League disqualifications later, there seems to be a hitch. Juventus seemed to have dipped further. Scoring goals looked like a tough task and they were close to forgoing the Serie A title to Conte’s Inter.

So, what caused the mighty Old Lady to stumble? Rather than a single answer, there is a series of consecutive calls that led to this decline. Do check out statistics and football game previews for pinpoint accurate numbers.

Sarri’s tactics fall short

During Maurizio Sarri’s reign, glimpses of a fall were visible. They did clinch the league title, but not convincingly. Juventus FC dropped 18 points from winning positions whilst letting in a shocking 43 goals. They just about retained the title, seperated from 2nd place by just a point.

Sarri’s ploy did not seem to working as they lost to Lyon (UCL) and even Coppa Italia final. Following an entire season, his approach of quick 1-touch passes with penetrating attacking runs was absent.

Such systems need a substantial amount of time to develop and set in. This happens especially when a side transitions from a conventional play-style. However, he was shown the exit and the legendary midfield maestro, Andrea Pirlo, took over.

Enter Andrea Pirlo

While Pirlo did come in with no managerial experience, the propositions he put forth to Juventus were highly sensible. His setup directed the team to play a pressing line with a third man run. As such, there would be fake runs all over the pitch, stretching the opposition defense open with Morata and Ronaldo getting forward to finish. Quick thinking, technicality, and vitally, a dominant midfield presence was a must.

But thus began the problem. An attacking play-style with possession works well with a strong midfield, something that the Juve squad lacked. Arthur, Aaron Ramsey, Adrien Rabiot and Weston McKennie have simply not been able to tick the boxes required regarding.

At the San Siro and elsewhere, their midfield has fallen short. Despite Ronaldo and Morata netting goals regularly, creativity levels dipped and the midfield continued to disappoint. Soon, he was given his walking papers too.

A blunt attack

With Cristiano Ronaldo out, the supporters remain perturbed and are peeved marking time for players like Federico Chiesa, Paulo Dybala, Moise Kean and Alvaro Morata to regain a consistent scoring form. 

Florentina forward Dusan Vlahovic tops the Serie A scoring charts with an impressive 16 goals. In comparison, Morata and Dybala’s goal tally in the league are still lower than that of the Serbian.  

It stands as a glaring problem, as Juventus FC have struggled to score and turn up in games. This is especially also considering that Allegri has switched up his players to find the perfect fit.

Internal conflict

At one point in their league games, cameras observed a heated moment between players. Wing-back Danilo was visibly very nervous about his errors on the field. Specifically, he had a clash with Brazilian teammate Kaio Jorge. The former Manchester City man lectured the youngster about pitch positioning. 

Jus prior, the defender exchanged a few words with goalkeeper Mattia Perin and veteran Leonardo Bonucci regarding his own position. 

Anxiety and self-doubt among the players is emerging as a common issue in Allegri’s side. The Italian desperately requires an all-round rethink. 

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