Wow. I’ve seen many poor performances by Juve but this must be one of the worst, especially considering we played at home, against a team who hasn’t won in the last 11 Serie A games, and the necessity to win the game to keep up with Inter Milan. Well, wow.
Juve this season have a little of habit: Keep the first twenty to thirty minutes at gear one and kick it up to third of fourth in the last 15 minutes of the first half. They then start the first 15 minutes in the second half in the fourth or fifth gear then stay between first to third the rest of the game.
Well, not this time. We kept it between first and second for most of the game and only looked interested in the last 15 minutes. From the first minute, the most glaring to me was nobody made any runs. Benevento played five at the back and with no off the ball running from Juve, their defense had quite an easy night. We played two inverted wingers in Federico Chiesa and Dejan Kulusevski and they couldn’t penetrate with Benevento doubling them on both wings. Reduced to inverted crosses, our wingers were ineffective. Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata took turns to support each other but it didn’t work against the opposition’s jam-packed penalty box. Morata and Danilo should’ve done better when they had only the goalkeeper to beat but without any urgency and meaningful runs, Arthur’s blunder cost us just a point and it was just an icing on the misery cake.
With so many injuries and Covid-related absences, Andrea Pirlo‘s work was harder than it should’ve been but this loss was on him. Juan Cuadrado was sorely missed and in my opinion, it was much much too late in switching Chiesa to the right and Kulu to the left. Federico Bernardeschi was toothless and Gianluca Frabotta, who I think is quite good at making crosses, was worth a try. In the end, he only made two subs: Rodrigo Bentancur and Weston McKennie for Adrien Rabiot and aforementioned Arthur. Yes, our collection of midfielders cannot compete in Europe but they are good enough against Benevento. The quality of our players was not an issue tonight. It was the desire and mentality.
Yet, it’s not only his fault. Fabio Paratici kept following the formula of his mentor, Beppe Marotta, in signing free or “cheap” midfielders. Rabiot may turn into an important box-to-box player but Aaron Ramsey spent too much time off the field than on it. He can make a difference in this game yet he’s not available. Again. I get that the team needs a veteran presence among the kids like Chiesa, Kulu, and McKennie but he cannot do it on the treatment table, can he? However, I like that in the last two seasons he brought Matthijs de Ligt, Merih Demiral, McKennie, Kulu and Chiesa so hopefully he will come through again next season, especially in strengthening the midfield.
We are also puzzled by Andrea Agnelli in his decision to appoint Pirlo. I get that the former midfield maestro bring with him an attacking philosophy that can help our brand moving forward but he had no experience whatsoever, not even in the youth sector.
However, I’m with our leader. Agnelli has a vision to make Juve one of the strongest brand in European Football on and off the field. Put competent personnel upon a strong financial foundation, you have a team who can compete year in and year out, both in Serie A and UCL. We had won nine scudetti in a row but were (and still are) a failure in UCL. He was then brave enough to make a change, with appointing Maurizio Sarri as an evidence. It didn’t work. Yes Sarri won us a scudetto but the team didn’t respond well to him. Agnelli failed, but he tried again. This time with Pirlo. Will he succeed this time? I don’t know but he’s willing to try. There’s no instant success and with change, things usually get worse before they get better. You keep trying until you get it right. Juve have the advantage as the richest club in Italy and having the most competent owner in the peninsula. I’m confident we will get better and will win again.
Today, let me say it again: Wow, but I’m looking forward to better days ahead.