Saturday March 2 2019
Juve ambition becomes a burden

Juventus spending and domestic success turned European ambition into the burden of expectation, writes Elio Salerno, leaving nobody happy. 

For Juventus and Max Allegri, the expectation has never been higher. The belief surrounding The Old Lady is that they are now capable of achieving something extraordinary, the strategic planning of the club has seen Juve climb towards the summit of European football with last summer’s signing of Cristiano Ronaldo envisaged as being the additional boost needed to reach the top. Completing a move for the game’s biggest star has brought unprecedented attention off the pitch and increased pressure to perform on it.

The narrative for Juve has swung from being a club that harbours ambition to win the Champions League to a side that is now expected to become champions of Europe and inevitably, it is Allegri that carries the burden of responsibility.

The assumption was that we would eventually see a confident, dominant, fluid Juventus capable of sweeping away all before them on their road to glory. However, the current reality paints a different picture.

The excitement felt in pre-season has slowly turned to one of discontent, with many supporters pointing the finger at the man in charge. As with the majority of fanbases that have been spoiled by success, few are able to look at the situation objectively, with those that either blindly back their team or the others that seek to find the negative in any given situation.

So which side is right? The truth is somewhere in between. There are undeniable flaws but it’s also not Armageddon for the Bianconeri.  

There are a number of factors in play here that started well before the current campaign kicked off. Despite performing excellently on the transfer market in recent years, the starting XI remains unbalanced, specifically in midfield, but there is enough quality in the squad to make up for those shortcomings. Defensive instability and below par individual performances are compounded by a team that has become increasingly unattractive to watch.

They are led by a Coach that no longer acts or thinks pro-actively, but one that chooses to adopt an unassertive, timid approach seen on a number of occasions this season and highlighted recently by their show in Spain.

The opening rounds of the Champions’ League group stage offered a glimpse into what this Juventus are capable of. Commanding displays at the Mestalla and then Old Trafford were supposed to be tastes of what was to come, but that never materialised, with things arguably regressing since.

It has to be kept in mind that this remains a side who are undefeated in Serie A and one that is on course for a historic, record-breaking eighth consecutive Scudetto.

To win continually in this manner should never be dismissed or treated as ‘normal’. Simply put, it isn’t. Maintaining the motivation and desire to succeed on this scale requires a special group, it is testament to the mentality that exists within the Turin based club. Italy’s top flight is a grinding experience, it is never easy, despite what those that don’t follow the league like to declare. So for this reason, “only” clinching the Serie A trophy should never be deemed a failure, but the very minimum required in the current climate.  

The main source of the fans’ frustration is without doubt Juve’s Tuscan Tactician. The constant slandering of a Coach that has overseen four consecutive domestic doubles and engineered La Vecchia Signora’s revival as a force in European football is certainly unwarranted. With that being said, logical and impersonal criticism is fair, given how the season is unfolding. Desperately disappointing defeats in the Coppa Italia quarter-final against Atalanta and last week’s surrender in Madrid to Diego Simeone’s Atletico were the final straw for many Juventini, who are now demanding a change on the bench.  

In a season that promised so much, the Juventus environment has been served a reality check. Perhaps it provides all that are connected with the club an opportunity to take a step back and appreciate the difficulty of their latest challenge, with a newfound respect for what the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid have achieved in years gone by.

It takes more than the phenomenal Ronaldo. The Portuguese hitman was an additional piece of a complicated puzzle and not the part required to complete it.

We are all aware of footballs ruthless nature and ultimately there can be no alibis or hiding place for Andrea Agnelli and co. Questions are being asked, disapproval and slurs are guaranteed to follow if the presumed early exit from the Champions League occurs on March 12th. However, even if this is eventually deemed as somewhat of a low point in this period of success for Juve, one thing is guaranteed. This is not a club that is prepared to feel sorry for itself and self-destruct, the laser-like focus of the Juventus management on becoming the best means they will not stop until they reach their ultimate goal. 

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Have your say...
Agnelli insisting on 10 straight scudetti is an unreasonable ask. Displaying passion, pace and a purposeful approach to games in CL, regardless of results, is reasonable and expected. As a Juve fan it is embarrassing to see the team putting on a clueless, fearful display on the stage where it matters most. Allegri and the players have given us glimpses occasionally but not worthy of a supposedly top European team.
on the 3rd March, 2019 at 6:32pm
Juve's record in the CL Final reads 10 appearances for two wins and eight losses. Underachieving at this stage of the CL is the root of Juves's burden. Buffons desparate desire to win the CL, only to lose three of those finals has added more emotion to this burden. Now the high expectations associated with Ronaldo and the perfect storm is brewing for more disapointment.
on the 3rd March, 2019 at 3:06pm
Personally I think Inter should join another league if they feel so strongly that Juventus is in it with the officials as cheaters. Because this is all they've been babbling about for the last 15 years. Last time they were any good was when they stole Juventus players by taking advantage of the organization they desperately tried to destroy. Something tells me they are up to the same thing again starting with bringing Alegri to Inter. Personally, they can have him.
on the 3rd March, 2019 at 1:38pm
Let's wait and see what happens against Atletico. Going out against them would not be the end of the world, eventhough expections this season were indeed very high. Let's be fair and say that this team lacks in creativity in midfield. The ball always goes left or right and very little action comes from the center of the field to the box. Ball handinling of some of the players from midfield is far from perfect.
on the 3rd March, 2019 at 12:19pm
@ Master...Juve didn't beat Parma either!! 3-3 remember! And No I don't like Inter either! However they do have a strong Italian base...Orsato, Mazzoleni, Banti, Irrati etc
on the 3rd March, 2019 at 10:27am
I just laugh with all these Interisti saying that Juve win because they have bought the referees. Yeah, that's why they win. Not because their opponents can't even beat teams like Cagliari and Parma.
on the 2nd March, 2019 at 11:50pm

Don't get too excited about Hazard. Vastly overrated. That guy has vanished from so many big CL games that I've lost count. He can be great against the rubbish he's playing week-in, week-out in the epl, but does nothing in serious European games.

Bit sulky too, and quits when things aren't going his way.
on the 2nd March, 2019 at 9:46pm
Juve win in Italy because they have bought and paid every referee in the league. Juve lose in Europe because the refs aren't bought and paid for by Juve. It's funny watching Juve players freak out when things in Europe don't go their way (or because the refs give the benefit of the doubt to better teams like Real or Barcelona) and they finally get to understand what everyone else in Serie A feels like.

They cheat in Italy, so they win. They can't cheat in Europe, so they lose.
on the 2nd March, 2019 at 7:08pm
Let me blunt about the situation. If Juve had Ancelotti instead of Allegri as a coach they would have already won the CL. The past 4 years has been a disjointed style of play with no identity. You will always be lucky if you win the CL like this but "never" closer or guaranteed of winning it.
on the 2nd March, 2019 at 6:55pm
As long as the Clown continues as a Coach, we'll never progress in CL and wouldn't have won in Italy as much if it wasn't for poor competition. The Jackwagon admitted himself he played for a draw in the Scudetto Showdown last year and we lost in Turin. If we had Messi, he'd play him in center alongside Dybala while Mandyjerk gets the Punta position and the captain armband. I'm loving this Conte Talk. CLOWN OUT !!
on the 2nd March, 2019 at 6:16pm
It's simple, Juve win because of referees in Italy, whereas they don't have such an advantage in Europe. They have even struggled to defeat the small sides this time around, therefore am not surprised to see them unable to down the middle-class European teams such as AM. They reached the Champions League final twice in the past four years because at that time not all of the referees inside their pocket, meaning that they had to sweat against three-quarters of the seria a teams to win.
on the 2nd March, 2019 at 4:29pm
Not just Allegri's fault but he doesnt seem to have a style, all season they've struggled to win convincingly. 3-0 in 2019 is their best result. IF they go out to Athleti Allegri should move on. But Juve board have a lot to answer for... Ronaldo was a great signing but it papered over the cracks of a tired ageing team. And why are Juve so reluctant to spend big on others? I mean Caceres and Ronaldo in the same season what a mismatch! Selling Dybala would be a huge mistake.
on the 2nd March, 2019 at 4:22pm
Ronaldo has unsettled this team. The 'miracles' some say he is achieving in this first season is simply because the whole team now runs around Ronaldo.
This was highlighted in Champ. League, Atleti know exactly how to mark him and as soon as they did Juve became clueless. They have simply become a 1 man show and that is the problem.
Allegri is a great manager but hasn't really dealt with big names and maybe that's where the problem is.
on the 2nd March, 2019 at 4:09pm
Kherdira was brilliant but juve took him free after major injury and yet he's still integral? Matuidi again was fading at PSG and Juve took him, still integral? Bernadeschi was Forientina's best player cannot even get a game. Dybala at his peak could walk into any team in Europe and isn't guaranteed a game? There are not enough Italians in the team. Dybala needs to be number one, they should sign Zaniolo Chiesa M Savic, a CB (Ironically had one in Caldara) and Kean should get more chances.
on the 2nd March, 2019 at 4:09pm
JUVE are a contradiction - Love Ronaldo but 100mill on 33 year old yet everyone else on a bosman? Makeshift midfield - Pjanic only world class. Ageing defence, was Bonucci worth a young Caldara and Higuain? NO! Bayern had Mandzukic's best years, sold him for Leowandowski, Juve then took him from Athleti, then replaced him with Higuain, 5 years later Higuain is sold and Mandzukic still main CF? Now linked with a tired Marcelo. They need to be buying top players in there peak for example Hazard.
on the 2nd March, 2019 at 4:01pm
Allegri seems to have conceded that they will be out of UCL... Huge advantage in Serie A yet he wants to start Ronaldo against a team that is trailing, bitter and will certainly play to injure him again. No courage at all. He prob will start CR7 in the next game as well.
on the 2nd March, 2019 at 3:59pm
i have been long and saying juve should change its formation because for practically the whole season juve has played isn't all allegri fault. juve went after Ronaldo as oppose to getting a quality midfielder so u must choose a formation that best fits. thats a 4231. it isn't even nothing new allegri played this before. the 4231 allows Dybala to play centrally behind the striker and both mandzukic & Ronaldo can play as the left winger or lone striker. costa/bernadeshi on the rightwing
on the 2nd March, 2019 at 3:47pm
You can blame Allegri for his style of football and tactics as much as you want,but the players are not performing to my expectations this season.Ronaldo has done miracles in his first season.The rest of the squad need to step up and convert chances made.P.D,D.C,M.P are all guilty of missed chances.To sum up the situation,tactics are not the reason for losing the games this season.Juve ambition will never be a burden,it will always be a goal that drives them to the best.

on the 2nd March, 2019 at 2:50pm
Maybe they need to just be more attack minded
Bonucci, and Chiellini cancelo and sandro
costa, bernadeschi, matuidi (for running only)
dybala, and ronaldo (free to roam) and mandzukic (work rate)
They will not win the champions league, and without a change in the team will continue to fail.
they need to press more they way liverpool, city or napoli do, they need to boss games. I am down beat by what I see, despite the fact they are top fo the league, I just miss the energy they had under conte.
on the 2nd March, 2019 at 1:54pm
The juve midfield is poor, matuidi is so clumsy on the ball, Can is anonymous, pjanic is highly overrated, Khedira is slow and past it, the defence is ageing, with little useful replacements. An overhaul is needed. Buying Ronaldo was to boost profile not really win the champions league, one player cant make that much difference. I have watched every game so far, and since man united in the first game, I have not seen them impress me. they grind out results, they have been fortunate.
on the 2nd March, 2019 at 1:49pm
I don't think this article is correct. Of course Juve want to win the CL but they seem to be undergo more pressure than previous years. They just faced an excellent team at a difficult stage and had been struggling for form/with injuries at the wrong time.
on the 2nd March, 2019 at 12:07pm
The problem is Allegri’s style of football. Passive, slow, horizontal passing, and lacking a fluid attacking threat. It’s as if he doesn’t know how to set a team up to play with aggression and be clinical - this is why some fans want coaches such as Zidane, Guardiola, Klopp, Pep etc. I would be fine with him staying if he at least had a go and gave the players the belief they are a dominate team and imposed thier style of play. Sadly, too often, it’s reactive and boring football.
on the 2nd March, 2019 at 10:49am
As long as Allegi continues to be fearful (and the AM game proved he hasn't learned that lesson) then Juve will continue to fail in Europe

Great teams look to dominate games, not hide out and hope to scrape a 0 - 0

He's been quite good when he's had to attack, and Simeone can often sit back too much when leading too, so if they really go for it v AM, then they may claw their way back into contention

If not, then Juve's season is over by early March and Zidane should be given the job.
on the 2nd March, 2019 at 10:22am

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