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.

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Have your say...
minutes. It's also of course noticeable that the most successful teams in Europe (including Juve) have been together for over 10 years. It's almost as if teams get better with time. But no, I think the obvious response to 8 times champions and 3 times European finalists Juve losing a game is to sack the manager, change all of the players, rotate all of the players and, while we're at it, get rid of the owners and replace them with Arabs or Russians. And while we're at it the rest of Serie A
on the 18th April, 2019 at 4:30am
per season. You know CB's like Pique who have played 490 games in 11 seasons for Barca or an average of 44 games per season. Or Ramos who has played 606 games for Real in 14 seasons or 43 games per season on average. What's in the paella that these players can play week in/week out and these clubs can get by with a first team squad of 23 players but Serie A teams need squads of 30 players that rotate every 5 minutes? Nothing breeds that machine like consistency like changing your team every 5
on the 18th April, 2019 at 4:28am
@ dan How is it that Italian players cannot play week in/week out?

Messi has played 608 games for Barcelona in 15 seasons which is an average of 40 games per season. How come he's not run into the ground?

And how exactly do CB's get tired when they cover the least of any outfield player on the pitch?

A CB's job is to hold their position and move up and down a line not run around like a headless chicken. I can understand FBs, mids or CF's getting tired but a CB should be able to play 40 games
on the 18th April, 2019 at 4:24am
if I were Agnelli, I will replace Allegri with Gasperini
on the 18th April, 2019 at 1:12am
The chickens come home to roost, Mazzoleni, Fabbri, Rizzoli, Doveri, Irrati, etc not allowed to play in UCL along side Juve. When you get used to this lineup helping you it catches up with you. Juve are useless stop blaming other serie A teams not good enough, they have given up on playing against them it same story every game/season. With all that cheating they became laxed. They can buy 10 ronaldo's to play with them and they will never win. Its a fact.
on the 17th April, 2019 at 11:40pm
Azzurri had Ventura, Juve has Allegri. Two most stubborn coaches who can't expose their squad's abilities in the nick of time.
Even if Allegri was given a team consisting of players from Juve, Barca, Madrid, City & PSG combined, he'll never win CL. Simple.
on the 17th April, 2019 at 9:44pm
allegri ran certain players into the ground and it it has shown. Mandzukic and pjanic have been horrible for months now. He didnt rotate the defense enough at the beginning causing Benatia to leave. There is also a very defeatist attitude that shows itself. constantly down playing wanting to win the CL. constantly saying we need this player on the bench to have options later. drives me nuts. what happened to Spinazolla? he was the best player against madrid in the second leg
on the 17th April, 2019 at 8:13pm
The truth is that only 2 juve players rly played in that mach cristiano and schezny.Whiout chielini juve have no defence aand their midfield is horrid on top of that moise keain is vastly overrated he didnt make any runs after he come in and he didnt help in defence at all.It woud have been beter to replace dybala whit bentankur or kedira givin them more bodies in d midfield.Anyway this juve is few closses below d juve that held messi suares and neymar goalless for 180 min thats for sure
on the 17th April, 2019 at 8:03pm
Dutch football has turned the corner and is resurgent; Italian football is still in the doldrums after the 2018 failure. This defeat shows how weak Serie A is; the "top" teams are nowhere near the level of Europe's best clubs. Likewise, the Azzurri would most likely be eviscerated by France / Spain / Germany (and England!)

Retrograde, stubborn, and still beset by all the same old problems, Italy really is the sick man of Europe. And not just in football terms.
on the 17th April, 2019 at 4:29pm
I didnt see the point in CR playing on the wings at the start of the season so mandz can play thru the middle; didnt see the point of the marginalizing of Costa and Dybala. Cancelo not playing all the games at right back made no sense to me. If they won the cl then Allegri wouldve been justified but now it seems oh so pointless. I do not get how you guys can watch Berna and not wanna break your TV screen. His football is so annoying, holding on to the ball 4 far too long then doing lil with it.
on the 17th April, 2019 at 4:25pm
saying it from time that this Juve side should be attacking more especially with the defence that they have which is quite good. Biggest problem is the fear factor of Italian teams in general from time in memorial. The midfield is not the best and yet they have recruited Ramsey. How is that gonna solve their problem. Arch supporters of Allegri I hope you are satisfied as this is what I have been moaning about. If you are not expansive you stand little chance of winning cl and from games I saw
on the 17th April, 2019 at 4:20pm
lol at all the "Juve sucks because everyone in Serie A sucks more" comments. Please.
Juve lost because, unlike in Serie A, Juve can't bribe their way to being champions.

If Juve's bribes stopped in Serie A, you'd see them fall midtable - at best. And that's all they deserve.
on the 17th April, 2019 at 4:15pm
Oh well it had to happen. Fair play to Ajax who I thought were magnificent as they have been all season in this competition. Outplaying Bayern home and away, doing the same to RM and now Juventus takes some doing, yet some deluded people on here are acting like its a disgrace that Juve lost. Its almost a crime that this side will be picked apart by the rich clubs and these players will probably not reach the level they should as some will be sat on the bench in the future. As for Juve I have
on the 17th April, 2019 at 4:14pm
Well said Maldini's Heir's on almost eveyrthing. I disagree with points c and d of the proposed reforms post though. Reducing Serie A to 18 is definitely necessary. As to the article: 2nd to last para about simnply the team with Ronaldo: SO TRUE. This squad was literally gutted when they lost Marchisio and Vidal. Then with Buffon gone and Chiellini missing it has absolutely NO SPINE, literally and figuratively. Juve needs more bulldogs as Pjanic, Can and Khedira don't measure up.
on the 17th April, 2019 at 3:56pm
It's become a pattern now. I can predict if Juve have any chance of winning the CL year after year. About midway through the season, if fans are complaining about the style and results of Juve's play in the league then you know they will not win the CL. Happens every year. The fans see that Juve is not playing good enough to compete in European competition but the bozo Agnelli doesn't want to open his eyes.
on the 17th April, 2019 at 3:53pm
Disappointed with last nights' performance, but not surprised. However, when facing a young and explosive team and leaving the likes of Spinazzola, Bentancur and Moise Kean on the bench (as the author noted) is simply unforgivable. Furthermore, when we lead the league by 20 points and these same players aren't starting every single game to gain confidence and experience is an even bigger issue. Rugani's lack of development is a perfect example of this.
on the 17th April, 2019 at 3:33pm
Couldn’t have said it better. Do any of the truly great clubs always look and play so frightened? Those teams impose their will, like the thorough beating Barca gave MU yesterday. Not Allegri though, except in Serie A against Carpi and Benevento. In Europe he is petrified of being considered a favorite; petrified of any team he faces, and it shows in the tactics. And now we get another year of this. Great, another year of no CL glory.
on the 17th April, 2019 at 3:26pm
Phoenix, you are right. Many italian coaches only try not to lose and imprint their insecurities on the team. Ajax knew what to do and had wings to fly and pass between the lines. That`s what you get when you dare! Allegri was outclassed last night, while his selection is questionable (Kean and Cancelo on the bench?!). JuBentus once again fails big time in Europe, because they are not used to playing without the referee. They are always favored in Serie A and KARMA is real!
on the 17th April, 2019 at 2:45pm
Juve stadium should be empty every home game until Allegri is fired.
on the 17th April, 2019 at 1:56pm
Until the equalizer, Juve were all over Ajax, disrupting passes, forcing errors and even blocking Onana's kick. Afterward, they lost all courage and wilted like pansies in a hailstorm. Their problem isn't talent, strategy or coaching, it was players' lack of stones --the most essential ingredient to win in Europe. That's how Mourinho's Inter won in 2010, the last Italian club to conquer Europe.
on the 17th April, 2019 at 1:53pm
I'm disappointed that Juve went out, yet happy that a club like Ajax has knocked out two financial powerhouses in Juve and Madrid. It's a victory for a vision that prioritizes youth development and a playing philosophy over signing extremely expensive individuals. But on the pitch, Allegri continues to perplex me with his negative mentality, line-ups, and tactics. It sounds crazy to criticize someone that has won so much, but questions do need to be asked.
on the 17th April, 2019 at 1:34pm
So enjoyed yesterday. It seems you can win in Italy with help but not in Europe even with a £200 million player. All that money to win less that you have won in recent years. Juventus are awful. I have watched a lot of them this season and only again AM in CL and the home leg against Napoli have they they played decent football. They shouldv'e started with a trident of Orsato, Mazzoleni and Fabbri up front!
on the 17th April, 2019 at 12:53pm
A 19 year old Captain leads Ajax to a CL semi final, whilst Juventus and the Italian psyche pondered on whether an in-form 19 year old striker was even ready to start a CL match. This fact alone explains what went wrong for Juve and the current state of Italian football in general.
on the 17th April, 2019 at 12:49pm
Well said Marco!
I have been saying that for years, get rid of Pjanic and get in Verratti.
on the 17th April, 2019 at 12:44pm
Juve will never win the CL while the Italian league is so un-competitive, see PSG.
on the 17th April, 2019 at 12:40pm
Allegri and Agnell comments "Ajax were in the QF of Europa League 2 years ago," don't wash - Juve were in the CL Final the same year! Where is Juve's progress in that time? Also saying "Ajax are a great team and they beat Madrid already," doesn't wash - Madrid have 4 CL's in 5 years they were tired and lacked ambition, the old Madrid would've beaten Ajax. It's delusional comparing Juve that are trying to win the CL now, to a team of the recent past who had no chance of winning it this season.
on the 17th April, 2019 at 12:38pm
Juve have been ignoring the fact that their defence and midfield has faded in the last 4 years. All the great Juve teams relied on strength in both areas. Ronaldo was needed when Juve had pirlo pogba vidal marchiso. BUT you can't spend 100 mill on a world great (near the end of his career) and expect him to do it alone while spending nothing on fundamental areas, I mean Cacares? Bonucci after the season he had at milan? It's like serving the worlds best lobster with budget butter and old fries.
on the 17th April, 2019 at 12:22pm
Juve have been ignoring the fact that their defence and midfield has faded in the last 4 years. All the great Juve teams relied on strength in both areas. Ronaldo was needed when Juve had pirlo pogba vidal marchiso. BUT you can't spend 100 mill on a world great (near the end of his career) and expect him to do it alone while spending nothing on fundamental areas, I mean Cacares? Bonucci after the season he had at milan? It's like serving lobster with budget butter and old cheap fries.
on the 17th April, 2019 at 12:14pm
Juve's makeshift approach - reached final 4 years ago with a solid midfield (Pirlo Vidal Pogba Marchiso) & defence (BBBC), BUT something was missing upfront. Reached final 2 years later - strengthened attack Higuain, Dybala, Mandzukic, BUT midfield weakened and BBBC aged by 2 years. Fast forward 2 years, Defence weakest it's been (older & less depth) midfield weakest it's been (lacks quality / dynamism), yet they spent 100mill on ageing Ronaldo & think that will win CL? Can you see the issue?
on the 17th April, 2019 at 12:13pm
Juve have shown fractures this year in Serie A. The central midfield is weak/old/slow with Khedira & Pjanic frequently ineffective. A few years back we had an engine in the middle with Vidal & Marchisio; we need to recreate this! Defence is a big concern, Bonucci is such a liability & must go. Rugani has been at Juve along time with little game time so he hasn't matured as hoped & confidence looks shot. These areas need addressing urgently. Dybala's form is actually the least of Juve's worries
on the 17th April, 2019 at 12:07pm

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