Let me channel my inner Chris Farley talking to Paul McCartney for a second here.
Remember when Juventus played against a bunch of struggling, potential relegation battlers and stormed right through them with plenty of room to spare?
Yeah, that was cool.
Not as cool? What Juventus did Monday night against another one of those potential relegation battlers.
In fact, it was just about the exact opposite of what Juve did for pretty much all of January, sans the result that has proved to kickoff this sudden three-game run of nothing but … yeah, go ahead and pick your own word there because the only thing I can think of isn’t going to be very family friendly.
Juventus didn’t just lose 1-0 to a Udinese side that entered the night in the relegation zone. They laid an absolute egg, and the performance — especially that in the second half — was deserved of the boos they got from the Allianz Stadium as the players walked off the field. Udinese’s only goal — their only shot on target the entire game! — came via Alex Sandro’s latest moment of defending masterclass, with a failed clearance giving Lautaro Giannetti carte blanche at a loose ball in the 6-yard box to give his team the lead. Juventus pushed forward with numbers plenty of times after, but couldn’t muster an answer. It didn’t matter if it was Maduka Okoye making a great save or Juve simply failing to put anything on target, this was a night to forget for Max Allegri’s squad on a night in which their manager celebrated his 405th appearance on the Bianconeri bench.
Instead, we’re now sitting at a moment in which Juventus are far from the team we saw for pretty much all of January until the draw against Empoli happened. And with that fixture, Juve have now dropped points in three straight games, including losses in their last two. They’ve collected one point out a possible nine in their last three games. Inter Milan’s lead atop the Serie A table is now seven points and they still have a game in hand to play. AC Milan are now a point behind Juventus in third.
It’s just … it’s gone bad in a hurry, my friends.
And it was this kind of performance that not only had you wondering what the heck happened to the team that crushed Udinese the first time around in the season opener, but what happened to the team from a couple of weeks ago.
After a first half in which Juventus were incredibly wasteful both before Udinese took the lead and after it, nothing was more evident of that “What the hell happened?” notion than what Allegri’s squad did in the second half.
Juventus had 75% of the possession after the break. They managed four shots — that’s the same amount that Udinese, a team that rarely ventured forward from the 46th minute on, recorded in the second half.
What is that saying about it’s not always about the possession but what you do with it?
Ah, right. Yeah, that one. Let’s go with it.
But I digress …
Outside of the very nice ball over the top from Andrea Cambiaso to Kenan Yildiz, I honestly can’t remember much of anything that Juventus did right in the second half as they attempted to find an equalizer. It was almost like the “plan” was to simply let Federico Chiesa try and do something cool to rescue them or just have somebody get out wide and hope that their cross into the penalty area.
That clearly didn’t work because Juventus finished with as many shots on target after the break as all of us watching did. And when you’re trying to find some sort of offense to get back into the game, actually putting something on target is a pretty good place to start.
Juventus couldn’t do that, though, and the result was clearly reflected in who actually ended up winning Monday night. And guess who’s next up on the schedule? Oh, it’s another relegation battler. That fills me with confidence knowing how the last couple of games against relegation-threatened opponents have gone.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Pre-game thought No. 1: Based on what happened on Sunday in terms of my sports fandom, I can reallllllllllllllllllly use a win today. I know playing a relegation battler in mid-February isn’t nearly the same as the freakin’ Super Bowl, but I need a little bit of a pick-me-up, folks.
- Pre-game thought No. 2: Hey, it’s Alex Sandro in the starting lineup! That’ll put me in a good mood.
- Well, it turned out Juventus didn’t help my mood. Nope, not one bit.
- With that loss, it now means all 20 Serie A teams have suffered a loss at home. We’re no longer the best at something, everybody. Oh well. Maybe the Coppa Italia can have some magic left come April.
- I hope that Feb. 12, 2024, is the last game in which Alex Sandro starts a game for Juventus. The thing is, I know it won’t be, so I’m not going to get my hopes up.
- I guess I can be happy with Allegri having the wherewithal to change to a 4-3-3 out of halftime to try and get something going. Clearly, the something never really got going.
- Also was kinda weird to see Timothy Weah playing at fullback and Andrea Cambiaso much more forward? The natural winger play as a fullback yet the fullback/wingback playing as a winger … interesting twist, Max!
- Lazar Samardzic making end-to-end runs at the Allianz Stadium — where do I sign up for those to happen much more often next season?
- The counting stats and stat-based formulas and ratings say Adrien Rabiot had a good game. I disagree!
- Those same formulas say that Manuel Locatelli had a good game. I disagree!
- Juventus’ all-American right side of the midfield with Weah and Weston McKennie did not have a good night. And that’s now four out of the five from Allegri’s 3-5-2 that didn’t play very well — which seems like a pretty bad thing to say!
- Lorenzo Lucca is a large human being and Bremer defended him quite well.
- I, personally, like Bremer a lot and would love Juventus to give him another contract extension that has him in Turin for, let’s say, the next 10 years.
- This was a tough night for Chiesa mainly because he got in a mode that he needed to save the Juventus attack — which, honestly, was basically the case — and went a little too much hero ball when he had the ball at his feet. There were too many cases of trying dribble past two or three guys. There were times in which he simply held onto the ball too long. And, let’s face it, he just didn’t play well overall and the visible frustration spoke for itself.
- Udinese with a talented young keeper in Okoye, who is 24 years old. Where have we heard that before? (Oh, right. Plenty of times.)
- Udinese finished with one shot on goal against Juventus and won. That’s just wild to me.
- Seriously, WILD.
- Is there really all that much that I need to say about this performance? No, it was bad, and I’m going to leave it there because I’m honestly sitting here wondering what else to type out and say to all of you. So I will just leave it with this …
- In conclusion: Thank you, Juventus, for not helping improve my horrible mood one bit. For that, I can count on you to continue doing such the last couple of years.