Spezia v Juventus

Spezia 2-3 Juventus – a classic relegation 6 pointer!

By TGP, 22 September 2021

Despite the dire state of our league position, both before and after, I was encouraged by the performance against AC. For whilst they were missing a few players, they are a team in superb form, with their away record certain confirmation of a settled system and deep imbued hardiness. For 45 minutes we actually looked and felt like a proper football team, somewhere near the sum of our collected parts, which must be taken as progress.

However, the goal conceded changed much for many, and then there was the implosion of Max, which this early in the campaign is less encouraging. I understand he is under a lot of stress, wants to ‘old school’ find a reaction from the troops and the results have been poor, yet if he is to be the leader this squad needs, he must quickly recover and move forward with confidence and tranquility.

Much has also been made of the spat between Tek and Rabiot. Another under a lot of pressure, self inflicted of course but still desperate to get things right. And that is what I want to see from our starting keeper. Not shying away, and sinking further, but coming out fighting. As the pictures showed and Max confirmed, Rabiot was out of position…

Szczęsny, once back in the locker room, allegedly accused Rabiot of not  defending well on the corner. The discussion continued in the locker room  so animatedly that Massimiliano Allegri had to intervene:

I have seen many goalkeepers barking at the outfield players, it happens every weekend. Tek has responsibility for organising his defence, and they should listen, as he is likely echoing instructions from Max practiced in training to defend set pieces. For too long has his lack of vocal presence seemed a negative to his game. He tried the opposite and is lambasted for it!

Not a great fan of either player, but believe Tek still has enough to prove a solid number one this campaign, and has shown strong form in the recent past, yet dropped in concentration and focus last year quite badly (as did the majority of the squad swimming blind and confused in Pirlo’s tactical soup) I see the incident more as a positive and sign that the clean sheet really meant something to the Pole, more apparently, than it did to Rabiot…who remains for me still a big question mark in terms of the value we get from him.

Such is the scrutiny that poor results bring to the club, Max would assuredly have been hugely criticised had he made defensive subs and the result was the same. He was bold to focus on upping the offensive action, and yet asked Chiesa – it appears – to work too deep, which is simply not his game. And it now becomes a concern that Max is trying to shoe-horn our most vital final third specialist into a RM/RWF role.

I dont want to see Chiesa constantly tracking back. The world saw how powerful he is in a front 3, not playing on the wing expected to keep dropping deep. So why does Max consider playing him in a different role, rather than where he has excelled at the highest level?

It is also apparent that the formation Max appears to be settling on (of late) is often reported as a 4-4-2, yet looks quite different on the field. Rabiot does operate in the CML region, moving up and dropping deep, though does not really stretch out to become a LM, and why would he? He is no winger… That space has been utilised well by Sandro, who has seemingly recovered his ability to bomb forward. On the opposite flank, Juan gets high up the field and also then drops deep to a RM position, with Danilo often tucking in a little to make a back 3.

Juan can do this as has played all roles on the right flank and is comfortable dropping deep. Chiesa is not the same player. His talents are pace, power, drive, determination, acceleration and I very much hope we do not see Max try to make him into a new Juan.

Now onto a classic relegation 6 pointer! Against a plucky Spezia side who sit a few places above us in 14th. Will we fight our way out of the bottom three???

It is remarkably difficult to say. And yet whilst it is very early in the calendar, and we have made up a large difference before to take the title under Max, that was a different era, a different Juve, probably a different Max. I remain as I felt and concluded after the first game of the season – we have been a shambles for many moons. Yes, on paper and wages, we should be trouncing this league, but times have changed. Conte and Beppe made a very strong Inter. Pioli has made a strong AC. Napoli have a more settled zeal and not much tweaking of the system from Spalletti. Roma are better under Mourinho. We start from barely grasping 4th, so to my muddled thinking, we aim for 4th if not higher…

Rumours abound, driven by the words of the coach, in regards to the starting XI. With many platforms suggesting wholesale changes, for the worse. At this stage of the season, with a semblance of form finally grasped, I do not agree in the slightest with rotation. We are desperate for points, for victories, for goals, for clean sheets. So play the strongest side possible. Alas…it seems Max takes a different view.

I am trying to will fate towards Chiesa operating higher up the field than the role Juan has been given the last two games, yet reality will likely strike back and my fears of Max morphing Chiesa into a right midfielder will come true.

Bernardeschi sometimes looks okay for La Nazionale, playing on either flank of the front three, so Max will deploy him as a CML. Which makes little sense, not just because his only decent form appears as a RWF, but also due to the long term conclusion that he is not useful in a role where he has to fight, hustle, tackle, block, create from deep It’s simply not his game, if…football is his game in any position whatsoever.

If Ramsey is fit, I imagine he could prove bearable in the DM role (although he is a box to box specialist), which does not yet seem natural for Locatelli (either) but he is doing a lot of screening when deployed there, we just miss his offensive output, which may only come if he is a CMR/CML or in a double pivot a la his Sassuolo period of excellence.

Mckennie, if he starts, I will hope regains his rhythm, as he has been the worst player I have seen so far this season in black and white. Mitigating circumstances of course, given he was asked to play TQ, which is not his game, and then had his bother with the national side, and appeared lifeless on the field for his next outing. No condemnation of the lad, and still feel/hope he can provide that swashbuckling energy, canny tendency to get on the end of things in the box and valuable aerial threat all over the field.

As always, I simply hope we score goals, find some fluidity, get the much needed three points and somehow avoid this clinging curse of controversy!

forza juve

PLAYER RATINGS

Tek – Not much chance on the second goal, but felt he could have done better with the first we conceded. As with the AC game, he made a superb late save and has certainly helped us gain 4 points from the last two after his horrid start to the season. 6.5

Bonucci – At fault to be turned for the second goal, and unfortunate with the deflection. Off the pace a little in this one. 5

De Ligt – Skied one he should have buried, defended stoutly and mishit but scored his next chance. 6.5

Danilo – Didn’t seem involved and offered nothing going forward. 5

De Sciglio – Tried hard but generally failed. 5

McKennie – Perhaps looked a little more focused, but still well off the fine form he showed for a couple of months last season. 5

Rabiot – Whilst his header set up Kean for the early goal, his general play was woeful. 4.5

Bentancur – Hustled and harried, but another seemingly not at all in harmony with his team mates or our system. 5

Chiesa – Wasted as a RM, and yet when moved to the opposite flank, with Sandro shoring up and pushing up from behind, he became a force of nature, lifting the side on his shoulders and dragging us towards recovery and victory. Good goal, superb determination. And must be played higher up the field, not as a RM. 9

Dybala – His weakest showing of the campaign so far, not involved enough, and FK opportunities were fairly lame.5

Kean – Still trying to gain any cohesion with the squad, but showed his goalscoring ability with the very well taken opener. 6

Locatelli – Good presence in the middle, kept moving the ball, tackling, pressing, still to see anywhere near his best in black and white. 6

Morata – Solid effort, hard running, got involved. 6

Sandro – helped to change the game by unleashing and supporting Chiesa to own the left flank in the second half. 6

Freddy – Took a beating and ran the ball off a few times. Usual effort, usual output. 5

Max – Almost had another calamity, but will be somewhat content to see the spirit and hunger appear for 20 minutes when we upped the tempo and swarmed forward, which was enough to secure the victory. 5