On the final day of the season, Juve managed to produce a high level performance to crush Bologna 1-4, which due to Napoli’s failure to defeat Verona, raised us into champions league qualification at the death. It was an entertaining, well deserved victory with some beautiful interplay leading to two of the four goals.
Pirlo has of late move away from his transitional hybrid muddle, and set us up in a more balanced 4-4-2. A good choice was made to deploy Danilo in midfield, which certainly helped Rabiot get forward with more safety behind him. Yet the real shock was to find Ronaldo benched…
Was this a technical choice by Pirlo? I find it hard to believe that anything other than a suspected injury could have kept him out of the game. More to emerge from this story in the coming days I suspect. Regardless, it did allow for the quartet of Kulu – Dybala – Morata – Chiesa to offer hints of what they could do if played more regularly.
They attacked often, with pace and superb movement with a fair few chances spurned. The score could well have been 1-7 and the home side would have few complaints. Yet how hard were they trying? With nothing to play for, already half their heads on holiday and some appalling defensive errors…it is not clear how much their shoddy professionalism played into our hands. Suffice to say, we looked often very good against an at best average serie A side.
Dybala has regained some sharpness, and alongside Kulu, looked the most high quality players on the field. Chiesa, Morata, Rabot were also impressive and Danilo must be mentioned…for he showed yet again his versatility and top drawer consistency he has delivered all season, whatever position he has been asked to play.
If Pirlo did decide to bench Ronaldo, it was a brave call to make as we have not seen that quartet together ( I believe) as for close to always, the ageing superstar starts and finishes games with the front line working around him. It is plausible to consider that removing him led to a more dynamic offensive threat, also more expansive, for this wasn’t the same trademark get the ball to Juan and fling in crosses or short passes from the right – we were threatening all across the field. Again I must assert that the home side seemed in complete disarray defensively, or was it more a case of unleashing what has always been there ready and waiting??
I have long disagreed with the suggestions of this squad as poor. In fact I have assumed the squad is the strongest in the league. Not built anywhere near perfectly, and very poorly coached, but with more quality in depth than any other side we have faced. I remain convinced of this. Which is not to suggest we do not need some serious additions in key areas to improve – we do. More a case of explaining why I remain hopeful to see Pirlo replaced as he has coached the strongest squad into many games of confusion, and nowhere near managed to find something appearing as a potential first XI and formation which works for 90 minutes…until the last game of the season.
Will keep this short, as I am expecting some major announcements over the coming days to confirm the direction of the club. For whilst we have won a coppa italia, supercoppa and sneaked into the CL, the season overall has been one of the worst I have witnessed. Too many gutless, disorganised outings against far weaker sides who we made look superb.
My fear is that Pirlo will be retained. Form his own words after the game the coach is wedded to his hybrid system, regardless of moving to a basic 4-4-2 of late with most players in close to natural roles. He is determined to implement his thesis. Which seems bizarre given we have been forced to dump it due to the many failures and absence of any clear idea of how it could look when working.
A team with a wage bill of EU236m is not sustainable with regular early CL exits and struggling to make top four. Contrast that with those teams who finished above us –
Inter – EU149m
AC Milan – EU90m
Atalanta – EU42m
We are hugely under achieving. The two major factors driving this failure are the recruitment (including wage structure) and the coaching. Both need to be addressed. The sooner the better.
The club have some huge decisions to make and they must make them soon and get them right.