Inter might end up regretting their 3-1 victory in Turin, for it could prove to be just the slap in the face that Juventus needed. After 49 games unbeaten, the Old Lady was looking complacent, arrogant and prepared only to do the bare minimum amount of work to get a result. This team had become the absolute antithesis of Antonio Conte’s vision. Not even a draw with Nordsjaelland, scraping a win against Bologna or robbing Catania of points were enough to shake them out of this self-imposed stupor. They’re awake now and boy did they need it!
The truth is that the defeat to Inter was the logical culmination of a journey Juve had been on for some time. After all, what made them so thrilling and unstoppable last season was their almost desperate hunger for success, eager to put their recent disasters behind them and embody the spirit of Conte screaming at them from the touchline. Recent performances were shoddy, half-hearted and doing no more than was necessary. They had become accustomed to being unbeatable and forgot how they put together that run in the first place. Juve weren’t the most skilful side last season, but they were easily the most determined, aggressive and hard-working.
I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that Juventus started losing their fire when assistant manager Angelo Alessio returned from suspension. A tactical advisor to Conte he may be, but Alessio is a quiet, gentle and frankly dull man. He’s not one to rattle the walls at half-time or shout orders during a difficult moment of a game. Massimo Carrera had far more of Conte’s spirit, leadership skills and ability to talk up the troops. Perhaps the setbacks prompted a reshuffle in the locker room with Carrera doing the team talks and Alessio fiddling about with a tactics board?
A 4-0 win over Nordsjaelland and 6-1 triumph in Pescara suggest Juve got the wake-up call they needed to stop the slide into mediocre complacency. That defeat to Inter may well end up being the best thing that could’ve happened to Juventus.