Juventus is rubbish and very cool

Massimiliano Allegri

Massimiliano Allegri
picture: Getty Images

While the traditional strength of European football may only be be temporary, another fell off his horse and then this horse urinated on him. Bayern Munich is likely to recover. On the other hand, Juventus may be heading for the mud for a while.

Juventus lost to Monza on Sunday in their fifth consecutive game in all competitions without a win. They had been attacked at home by Benfica in the Champions League before that. They tied Salernitana at home which led to that European adventure, which came after PSG had largely kicked them around the Parc de Princes before then. They have won only two of their nine matches so far this season.

All this left Juventus in eighth place in the Italian league table. And they deserve to be there. According to metrics like Expected Goals and Expected Goals vs., 8th place is the best they can hope for so far in this campaign. They might actually be lucky, as their goalkeepers have saved three more goals than expected so far in Serie A, the second best player in the league. If they were only scoring an average goal, they would be in the bottom half of the table.

It’s a mess all over the field. Juventus is fourth in the Italian league standings in terms of shots on goal per match. They are the third worst pass in the opponent’s penalty area. They’re in the middle of the group in the 90-minute shot creation routine. They never press the ball in the opposing half, and hardly do so in the middle third either. They win the third least number of interventions. They don’t attack well, they don’t defend well and it’s a funny way to win football matches – which is supposedly what Juventus did.

Juventus believed that everything was resolved by doing what the European powers do, which is throwing money in every direction, and contemplating what comes off the assembly line. Last winter, the award was Fiorentina’s Dusan Vlahovic, and there certainly can be no complaints. He’s been everything No.9 should have been real since he arrived, scoring 11 goals in 21 league games since arriving in the middle of last season.

But symbolic of the current dysfunction in the black and white half of Turin, Denis Zakaria was bought last January, and this August was loaned out to Chelsea. And it’s not like there’s been a manager or regime change. They just spun around on him within months.

It continued this summer. While calls for manager Massimiliano Allegri to be axed have certainly echoed throughout the hills, the front office has said that there is a project that will take years to come to total fruition. But what is that project? Paul Pogba was brought back from Man United and Angel Di Maria signed on a free transfer. But they’re 29 and 34. Pogba hasn’t even gotten on the field ( Just not what it used to be) and won’t do that until January. Matthijs de Ligt, only 23, has been moved to Munich, despite being someone they can build around. Danilo and Juan Cuadrado started a lot in defense, both of whom are well over thirty.

More blurring whatever the project may be in the midfield. Nobody is quite sure what they are supposed to do. It didn’t help that Allegri kept flipping between two or three midfielders behind them. He can be heavy on creativity, especially through the teenage Meriti, Rabio or Paredes, but he doesn’t have much of a sting. We have documented how West McKennie runs a lot, but doesn’t do much other than showing up in the box late to score. He’s a “noise and rage” player most of the time, except when he’s scoring. There’s no defensive shutdown in the middle here, and it won’t be resolved by Pogba’s return.

The inertia of the front line doesn’t help them when they don’t have the ball. Vlahovic doesn’t press the ball at all, and neither does Filip Kostik (both are in the 10th percentile or lower in any pressing or defensive category among attackers). Di Maria is a gallope without the ball. This was the same problem that Juventus faced when Cristiano Ronaldo groaned and groaned and didn’t move when he wasn’t trying to score, allowing teams to pass through the midfield through the open gate he left in front. Nothing has changed.

It all came together to make Juventus just a horrible watch. A lot of guys want to do the same thing, a lot of guys just don’t want to do enough, and it seems like not everyone is where they are supposed to be. They’ve only been able to produce more than 2.0 xG in one game this season, and they’ve only had one game where they’ve managed more than five shots on goal. They are idle.

And it won’t be easy to get back into the Serie A race, or even the first four races, or get out of the race in the Champions League. In the latter, they got a double header against Maccabi Haifa after this international break, but even if PSG snatched all six points from Benfica at the same time, Juventus would still have to travel to Lisbon and get one result and possibly another at the same time. Home against Paris Saint-Germain to progress. And Juventus does not imagine itself as a club that plays on Thursday nights.

In the league, Milan, Inter, Napoli and Atalanta all look much better, and Roma and Lazio can easily argue that they are equals with Juventus. At least most of these teams seem to have a plan, which only Juventus claims.

And quite frankly, it’s hard not to have fun. Chairman Andreas Agnelli still clings to the cracked dream of the Premier League, believing that Juventus somehow skipped the Serie A, when he was ahead of the Scudetto after the Scudetto. But now they are drowning and they can’t seem to find a way out. The appointment of Maurizio Arrivabene as director is so funny that most F1 fans will tell you that in a previous life running Ferrari was what Ferrari left the current chaos They are now. If there is a team that lifts itself up, it is Juventus.

Not many tears would be shed for them all over Italy, unless it was for laughter.