BLOG ITALIA
Wednesday April 17 2019
Juve and Allegri deserve every criticism

Ajax laid bare the worst defects of this Juventus side, as Elio Salerno saw a team running scared with a sense of inferiority that stems from their Coach.

There can be no excuses, no alibis and no hiding place for Max Allegri, his players and Juventus football club. Regardless of the opposition’s excellence on Tuesday night, exiting the competition was not an option. This was not an unfortunate defeat, where the underdog had defended for their lives and stolen victory. Juventus were dominated and were fortunate not to concede more. A scintillating Ajax team destroyed the establishment and deservedly progressed to the semi-finals of Europe’s elite competition, edging a step closer to legendary status.

The first half was somewhat tentative from both sides, with Juve seemingly managing the opening stages better. Ajax showed glimpses of what they could offer, but rarely threatened. Then came the inevitable, Ronaldo headed home to add another goal to his incredible Champions League record. It looked set for the Portuguese Number 7 to make this another night about him, but on 34 minutes came the moment that changed the quarter-final.

Donny van de Beek reacted quickly to control a wayward shot before slotting home coolly. Federico Bernardeschi had failed squeeze up and get with his defensive line, playing the Dutch midfield man onside. There was an instant feeling of shock around the stadium, half-time came quickly and the full effect that goal had on Juve would only be seen after the break.

Moise Kean was introduced in place of the injured and disappointing Paulo Dybala, but Kean could do nothing to prevent what was coming. Ajax bossed proceedings, the equaliser was galvanising and they sensed another incredible victory was on the cards.

Juventus were nervous and the pressure of the situation was too much for them to handle. Instead of intently searching for the lead or attempting to control possession, Allegri’s team crumbled. Ajax excitedly pressed on, knowing that a second goal would be devastating for their hosts and when the colossal Matthijs de Ligt powered home a header with a little over 20 minutes remaining, there was only one team going through.

Juve’s insecurities were laid bare for all to see. Earlier this year, Atalanta had paved the way for others to exploit this team and Allegri ignored the warning signs, only for it come back and haunt him once again on the biggest night of the season. The Old Lady simply could not contain Ajax’s energy levels, their technical ability and above all, intelligence. The Dutch team have complete understanding of their game. Ajax dominate the pitch, create space and exploit it with clever movements and combination play. It is something wonderful to watch.

It is difficult to understand what Allegri’s thought process was coming into the second leg. After familiarising yourself with Ajax, leaving The Johan Cruijff Area with a draw and an away goal, there should have be change in approach. One of Allegri’s strongest assets has always been his tactical flexibility and variety, but it seems like he has no answer to the deployment of an intensive, progressive style of football. It begs the question, is Allegri becoming outdated?

The Juventus boss will point to the absence of captain Giorgio Chiellini, Mario Mandzukic and Douglas Costa as decisive factors. His squad has been struggling with injury problems and it is far from ideal preparation to have those players and the likes of Emre Can and Ronaldo all missing recently, but you are in charge of Italy’s best club, it is no reason for this loss.  

In response to last week’s game, he leaned on experience to help. Experience means little, especially when you are being over-ran. Regardless of those players missing, take a look at the Juventus bench. Joao Cancelo, Leo Spinazzola, Rodrigo Bentancur and Moise Kean all started on the side-lines, all players that are undoubtedly better-equipped at playing against Ajax. Those players would not sit on the Ajax bench, they would be encouraged to go and play without fear. Instead, what was offered up to Erik ten Haag? Mattia De Sciglio, Alex Sandro, Blaise Matuidi, Emre Can and an out of form Paulo Dybala.

Ajax epitomise the beautiful game, but this isn’t a team of world class players, it has a nice blend of qualities that work perfectly well as a unit and had Juventus running scared. The Italian champions were punished for having a sense of inferiority, a lack of bravery, that stems from the man that sends the starting XI on to the pitch.

The aggregate score was close, but in reality, this should have been a more comfortable victory for Ajax. If not for the superb Wojciech Szczesny - who was easily his side’s best performer this round - the score would have been three or even four.

On the face of it, this Juventus isn’t the best team in Europe, it isn’t even Allegri’s best Juve, it is simply the team that has Ronaldo, the player responsible for all of their knockout round goals. That in itself tells a story.  

Ajax deserve all the plaudits, while Juventus deserve every criticism and this result goes to further prove that in modern football, if you have belief in the way you play, define a clear style and approach, then you do not need to constantly search for ways to stop an opponent. You deploy Plan A and let that lead the way.

Have your say...
Fiat should concentrate on F1. Now they are No.2 on both sport.
on the 21st April, 2019 at 9:32am
Maldini's Heir, 1-1 against Parma. Milan is just giving the CL away, aren't they. Oh well, Gattuso and this group of excellent players will surely do well in the EL next year.
on the 20th April, 2019 at 8:28pm
Season after didnt qualify and this season out by group stage. Hardly the blueprint for success that other teams should emulate. Even that dinosaur Mou is talking about how Juve lacked athleticism as if that is enough to win cl. They need a coach that is not deathly afraid to concede and is prepared to play expansive football to win matches at all costs. Forward thinking wingbacks/full backs are a must in modern football not De sciglio.
on the 20th April, 2019 at 1:33pm
Enuff already about Inter treble season. It was a fluke and lots of luck involved. Anyother than Ranieri's Roma would have won the league. Imagine losing at home to Sampdoria when scudetto is in your hands is typical of Ranieri n Roma. In cl another referee would have allowed Pique's goal to stand n Barca woulda gone thru. What has Inter done since? Next season lost to Schalke 7-3 on aggregate; then lost to Marseille;in EL lost to Spurs,not in Europe,El lost 5-2 to Wolfsburg;N/A;group stage EL;
on the 20th April, 2019 at 10:37am
Juventus should promote Italian players now from the academy and rebuild. Khedira, Sandro and Dybala should go.
on the 19th April, 2019 at 10:46pm
Allegri is not the right man for Juventus Champions League Ambitions. He's good enough for the scudetto but not Europe.
on the 19th April, 2019 at 10:42pm
@maldini heir
You literally gonon and on about the same thing. You have literally copy and paste the last load of blogs from the other 3 articles. How do turn a whole juve article into a convo about Milan!
on the 19th April, 2019 at 9:30pm
Anonymous 11
I am not a Juve fan. Ronaldo has unsettled this team. He speaks as if he wasn't playing or as if he was amazing, he was as bad as the team. When Inter won they midfield and attack and they played through their key players. Juve this season are worse than they have been in the last 3 years because week after week they do one thing play the whole games revolving around Ronaldo.
The team lost. The way people are talking it's as if Juve lost but Ronaldo was exceptional!
on the 19th April, 2019 at 9:28pm
@Malini's Heir. 10 transfers in one summer is obviously insane. Not only form a squad cohesion perspective, but also financially, as we now know. Fassone is out of his mind to be suing Milan for anything given the damage he and Mirabelli did. But, Taarabt, Destro, Niang, one-season-wonder Cerci, Balotelli...come on. These guys can't hold down a regular spot on any team for a variety of reasons. I do think we should have kept SES, but don't get me started on Milan youth players we've let go...
on the 19th April, 2019 at 7:12pm
@Malini's Heir. 10 transfers in one summer is obviously insane. Not only form a squad cohesion perspective, but also financially, as we now know. Fassone is out of his mind to be suing Milan for anything given the damage he and Mirabelli did. But, Taarabt, Destro, Niang, one-season-wonder Cerci, Balotelli...come on. These guys can't hold down a regular spot on any team for a variety of reasons. I do think we should have kept SES, but don't get me started on Milan youth players we've let go...
on the 19th April, 2019 at 7:00pm
@Maldini's Heir. I'm not completely discounting your argument. It's quite convincing actually. Particularly from the youth development point of view, but still at the end of the day the 1st team players achieve the results. So lets put all the small transfers and loans aside. Many of the names you cite just aren't that good. It goes to you your point of continuity with the quality ones, but I can see where a DoF would get caught up in constantly changing the parts to find the perfect fit.
on the 19th April, 2019 at 6:49pm
strike combos. And that's just Milan. The other teams bar Juve and Napoli have done the same. Inter are in a constant state of flux. Roma sell their best players. It's change, change, constant change. Sure the very large figure of 1,800 is a mixed bag of transfers, loans, loans with options to buy, youth team, internal transfers and the rest. But it's a very large figure and it's double the size of the same figure in the other leagues. The other leagues that are currently doing a lot better.
on the 19th April, 2019 at 5:54am
Robinho, Matri, Kaka, Taarabt, Petagna, Menez, Destro, Cerci, Luiz Adriano, Bacca, Deulofeu, Suso, Lapadula, Ocampos, Cutrone, Kalinic, Silva, Borini, Higuain and Piątek. Across 2 to 3 positions Milan have gone through 25 players in 7 seasons. A before someone shouts MEDIOCRE! Juve won the title with Matri (who played for Milan in that time), Vučinić, Quagliarella, Borriello (ex Milan) and a retiring Del Piero. The truth is Milan actually could've challenged for the title with any of those
on the 19th April, 2019 at 5:52am
De Sciglio, Niang, Balotelli and El Shaaraway could've been approaching their 7th season together. Imagine what that would've done to their cohesiveness? Even back then De Sciglio and SES had formed a partnership down the left, SES, Balotelli and Niang had formed a partnership upfront. If they'd just been left alone they could've flourished. Since then there's been countless changes. In 7 seasons Milan have gone through 25 strikers. I'll list them: Balotelli x 2, SES, Pazzini, Niang, Pato,
on the 19th April, 2019 at 5:48am
have a very high turnover of players. By way of example Milan this summer signed 8 players and a further 2 in January. Higuain and Piątek moved twice in a single season. So Milan changed neatly half their first team squad in one season. The season before we obviously also had the farcical situation of signing 10 first team players in one go. And this has been the theme now for 10 years. Imagine if Milan had basically kept the same core players from the last time they qualified for the CL?
on the 19th April, 2019 at 5:40am
Re the transfer numbers. Yes I'm citing Transfermarkt, And yes these numbers are not just first team squads and they include loans. But there's a few things these numbers tell us:

a) as a gross figure Serie A has about twice as many transfers as other top leagues;
b) a lot the numbers are made up of lower value, youth team players but that of itself points to an issue with youth team players being traded like cattle which is not conducive to their development;
c) even within senior squads we
on the 19th April, 2019 at 5:34am
continued,
I'm not saying that this system today would guarantee a CL but what they had was exceptional players in each area of the pitch with the "right" skills. In offense, speed. In midfield communication and awareness and in defense, strength. Juve's 2 best players are Ronaldo and Chiellini. If Chiellini doesn't play they don't have steel in the back. Ronaldo scored your goals in the CL so I don't know what more you want from him. For me your problem remains the coach however.
on the 19th April, 2019 at 4:39am
@Jeremy,
When Inter did the treble, they did it with 1 midfielder and 1 striker. Wesley Sneijder was considered the Best Midfielder in Europe at the time. Eto'o had blistering speed and Milito played his part when called upon. The rest of the team had physically imposing players that were not only good with the ball but had strength. Ronaldo is right. Pjanic is weak.He doesn't link the mid to the offense and Allegri prefers Manzu instead of trying to foster and integrate Kean's speed in the team
on the 19th April, 2019 at 4:29am
@Anonymous (18th April, 2019 at 5:33)
Yes. Yes. Yes. 1000% agree.
I would rather lose with a team of under 25s with 90% of the team being Italian than that embarrassing display last night from another 'italian' side with a group of overated, over paid and over priced bunch of lemons. Ronaldo is suddenly the ambassador of Juve where he now demands transfers or he leaves, Juve pay this baffon who is acting as if he wasnt actually on the pitch!!!
on the 18th April, 2019 at 10:16pm
I thought Juve were great.
If you base an entire system/formation and everything through 1 man you get what we saw last night 10 clueless men told to give the ball to Ronaldo. 4- 5 years of building Juve around player like Dybala all undone by Ronaldo, yes people Ronaldo. This whole team has forgotten how to play because they have to do everything through Ronaldo. The media say hes demanding this and that or he is leaving... i say LEAVE.
on the 18th April, 2019 at 10:08pm
@ Nesta's Heir: "They crumble when being pressed high up the field." Yep. Atalanta showed us that against them. I think a lot of teams are afraid of doing it because they fear getting punished on a breakaway. Serie A clubs need more guts!

@Maldini's Heir: your point about transfers: If you're citing Transfermarkt, I'd point out that the vast majority of these transfers are for players valued 50-500k who never and will never touch the 1st team. So what effect do they have on 1st team play?
on the 18th April, 2019 at 7:40pm
@ Nesta's Heir: "They crumble when being pressed high up the field." Yep. Atalanta showed us that against them. I think a lot of teams are afraid of doing it because they fear getting punished on a breakaway. Serie A clubs need more guts!

@Maldini's Heir: your point about transfers most likely holds water, but I don't recall Juve, Milan or Inter transferring 90 players last summer. Even combined. Can you cite a source?
on the 18th April, 2019 at 7:03pm
Bring Italy back to the origins,homegrown players need to get promoted from Seria B to A.This transfer bull is a money laundering scheme where Owners buy second rate outsiders and play them as if they are top level. The best players are Italian forget all the other leagues which are useless, little skill no tactics no defense starting with Ligue 1. Use the national team basis that Mancini put into place and Italy will dominate with time.You will see the National team grow along with serie A.
on the 18th April, 2019 at 5:33pm
If Juventus have indeed mismanaged their transfers and approach in the Champions League, it is especially disconcerting given that they are one of the most effectively run clubs in Serie A.

And though usually one of his apologists, on this occasion I have nothing to offer in defence of Allegri. The grievances of the bianconeri faithful are understandable. Perhaps it is time for a new coach, though I don't think a Conte return will ultimately bring greater success.
on the 18th April, 2019 at 5:06pm
Maldini's Heir – no, I don't think you're the only one that holds this view. You make a compelling case that this is a problem for Serie A. It makes one wonder where you find these statistics (not that I question their accuracy).

Consistency is a virtue in many contexts. Increased consistency in Serie A teams as a whole would certainly be welcome. At this stage, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Juve's European struggles are unrelated to the lack of serious competition in Serie A.
on the 18th April, 2019 at 5:00pm
The problem has to be allegri. He lacks the ability to motivate a world beater of a team...conte would go for jugular of the opponent every time...Allegri doesn't seem to psychologically prepare his players...something that every manager must do before games...lets face it juve have scraped it to get to quarters...lost 4 times to average teams...simply not good enough
on the 18th April, 2019 at 3:29pm
Juve has issues.

The first is that they have a weak midfield. We can see that by looking at the Milan game. Bakayoko alone bossed 3 of their midfielders. Yes they won, but that because of calciopoli. Put them in a competition they cannot manipulate and they will lose.

Secondly, Ajax played good, but Juve's so called experience should have nullified their attack by keeping possession. They crumble when being pressed high up the field.
on the 18th April, 2019 at 11:53am
OUT : Dybala (weak Mentally), Costa (always injured), Khedira, Barzagli

IN: Joao Feliz, Chiesa, Ramsay(free),Ruben Dias, Ndomele
with these 5 new faces we would have revamped juve's midfield and defence. and have a more potent attack. because Dybala in the biggest moments isn't mentally strong. saw it in the c.league final, saw it vs real madrid last season when he got a redcard. he doesn't have the X-factor of a champion
on the 18th April, 2019 at 10:25am
involved in this season alone (compared to the 700 La Liga transfers in 18/19). I reckon we could break the 2,000 mark. That's right, 100 players transferred per team. That's the sort of stability that brings long term success.

PS Dan I am very sorry that I targeted you with that rant. About half way through I stopped replying to your comment and just went on a bit a roll.

PPS I am the only person on the planet who thinks that the transfer market is killing Serie A?
on the 18th April, 2019 at 4:37am
should do the same. Because the one thing that Ajax, a team with an average age of 24 which cost half of what Juve paid for Ronaldo, has taught us is the only way succeed in football is to pay football agents as much money as possible and to have as many transfers as possible. I mean just because there are double the number of transfers each window in Italy compared to every other league doesn't mean we should stop. I mean surely we can beat the nearly 1,800 transfers that Serie A teams were
on the 18th April, 2019 at 4:34am

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