Friday April 19 2019
Old Lady needs rejuvenating

Juventus have put all their focus on to Cristiano Ronaldo, neglecting the weak defence and midfield, argues Emmet Gates.

We’re fast approaching a quarter-century since Juventus last won the Champions League. The latest failure coming from a young, bold and at times a simply irrepressible Ajax side that thoroughly dominated The Old Lady over two legs. To put the wait into some sort of perspective, when Gianluca Vialli hoisted ‘Ol Big Ears high into the Roman sky in May 1996, five of the Ajax starting XI from the second leg weren’t even born.

The Juve post-mortem has already started, and will continue in the weeks and months ahead. Where does this team go from here? In the moments following their elimination, Max Allegri announced he’ll remain at the club, also confirmed by President Andrea Agnelli.

Yet the two games against Ajax demonstrated – quite clearly - that having Cristiano Ronaldo, as clutch a player as there is in the modern game, simply isn’t enough. Ronaldo needs a supporting cast, and this season’s cast of players has fallen remarkably short as the business end came into focus. Ajax’s victory was a stark reminder that the collective usually triumphs over the individual.

Furthermore, the Ajax games laid bare the brutal truth about the dearth of genuine quality in Juve’s midfield. Repeatedly torn to shreds by the Dutch side’s incisive, crisp, quick passing and movement, Blaise Matuidi, Emre Can and Miralem Pjanic were made to look the living representation of the club’s nickname: they were the old in the Old Lady.

The glaring deficiencies in the middle of the pitch have been palpable to most since the departure of Paul Pogba in 2016. For a management team that’s so widely lauded for its ability to sniff out bargains and astute signings, they’re now paying the price for continually neglecting, or rather papering over the seismic cracks, in that most crucial area of the pitch.

Their run to the 2015 Champions League Final was built on the brilliance of their midfield: the languid genius of Andrea Pirlo, the dynamism of Arturo Vidal and Pogba, and the quiet versatility of Claudio Marchisio. A case could be made that at the time it was the finest in Europe, four players who complemented each other and as a collective unit possessed everything. Four years on, and none of that quartet have been adequately replaced. One could make half-baked arguments for Matuidi and Pjanic, but you’d be grasping at very thin straws.

Just two years after that, the run to Cardiff was built on the supremely-marshaled defence that conceded a miserly three goals en route to the Final. And now, that same defence has all but lost its reputation for goal-thriftiness. A once water-tight ship that now springs leaks at every opportunity, Wojciech Szczesny was the only player standing between Juventus and a comprehensive drubbing by Ajax.

A reliable replacement for 34-year-old Giorgio Chiellini has yet to be found, whilst Daniele Rugani continually fails to impress and Leo Bonucci, ludicrously brought back at the expense of the highly-valued Mattia Caldara, is a shell of the player who left for Milan two summers ago. Notwithstanding that he’s also a walking PR disaster.

What Juve have is a squad that’s considerably top-heavy, to such an extent that they’ve spent over €420m on attackers since the summer of 2015. Compare this to what has been invested in the other areas of the pitch over the same period, a ‘mere’ €245m, and you begin to see the real lack of understanding in the needs of the squad.

A mini revolution is in order to reinstate the balance this summer. Aaron Ramsey is sealed and delivered, yet he alone is not enough. A player with Vidal and Pogba’s dynamism is a must. Matthijs De Ligt, he of the winning goal on Tuesday night, has been on the club’s priority list for months, but it’s likely he will join Frenkie de Jong at Barcelona.

Alex Sandro, Sami Khedira, Juan Cuadrado, Douglas Costa and Paulo Dybala were all reported to be on the chopping block at various times. Alex Sandro never recovered from being taken apart by Dani Carvajal in Cardiff. Cuadrado and Costa have contributed little to this campaign due to a slew of injuries. Khedira, a favourite of Allegri, plays in slow motion.

This brings us to the problem of Dybala. The Argentine, whose departure would recoup the most money, has undoubtedly suffered most in the new Ronaldo-dominated landscape. Not suited to a 4-3-3, Allegri has, to his credit, attempted to accommodate Dybala in numerous systems, but it’s evident little appears to be working. A potential departure might be best for all concerned.

Fabio Paratici, now in full control of Juve’s transfer market following Beppe Marotta’s hasty exit in October, will want to rectify the problems Marotta created. Otherwise, you suspect there could be a similar article trotted out next April, outlining the same issues.

It promises to be a major summer ahead for Juventus. It’s time to give Ronaldo the supporting cast he warrants.

Have your say...
The old lady needs an attitude adjustment in Europe as they can’t be bothered to show up in first legs or sometimes even in both legs! I personally don’t mind losing as long as my team shows up and goes down fighting but my SHAMEFUL Juve can’t be bothered to even put an effort against AM they only played for 90mins against Ajax they didn’t even show up they probably thought Ajax spends less on their players so they must lose! What a disappointment if only they had put up a fight
on the 22nd April, 2019 at 7:07am
On sunday, Juventus won yet again the only title they can win that is the scudetto along with minors titles like Coppa Italia and the Italian Supercup. Always miserably failing to win the one that matters most, the Champions League.
on the 21st April, 2019 at 4:43pm
defence, Malonas , Kulibali,
on the 21st April, 2019 at 12:38pm
Allegri is quoted as saying that objective next season is to win the scudetto if this is true then he has gotta be kidding. He should be saying and this is true for the whole squad next season, that they want to win the CL. If you do not totally believe that you can win it then more than likely you wouldn't. The motto oughta be another scudetto will be nice but now we go all out to win the CL
on the 21st April, 2019 at 11:06am
The players being bandied about on here if they do buy them, it will not be the version of those players you have in your minds as they would either played in an alien position or do things that are not really in their skill set. Is Dybala a bad player? Of course not but he is not played where his maximum could be seen why would the likes of Joao Felix, Golovin etc be any different. Douglas Costa is used as a sub while Mandzukic or CR7 are used as wingers (incredible).No wonder he cries off sick
on the 21st April, 2019 at 10:52am
All these transfers that people are speculating will come to nothing if Juventus do not start playing with an identity. At the beginning of the season i was having a go cos of the way they were playing but someone on here was arguing with me. I knew it was impossible to win cl playing that way. Whether it is against barcelona or against Chievo play the same way. There are few midfielders that can press high up than Matuidi and Can but Juve do not do that. Much as I despise Berna he can press too
on the 21st April, 2019 at 10:44am
Juve should buy Manolas, Cristian Romero to get some speed in defence, and Rabiot, Stefano Sensi, Tonali and Nicolas Pepe. Bring back Rogerio, and maybe Orsolini from loan, and sell Sandro, Pjanic, Matuidi, Khedira, Cuadrado, and Costa.

PS:Allegri needs to change his philosophy of find himself a new club.
on the 20th April, 2019 at 9:08pm
allegri for me needs to go back to what he specializes in. that is a 4312. get rid of costa and get isco. it would get Dybala going as he can play as a 2nd striker. you would have Isco, Ramsey, Bernadeshi that all can play as a trequarista. Isco could also drop into central midfield. obviously they needed to get someone for central defence so get Ruben Dias. I one was against bonucci coming back. but I knew juve at all cost needed to get higuain off the books.
on the 20th April, 2019 at 8:36am
The math for this

Sack Allegri = Rejuvenate

I want this team with attacking minded coach
on the 20th April, 2019 at 4:14am
We need to reshape the midfield. We have Ramsey coming, but we need one more new midfielder. We need someone like Pogba. As much as I like him, we need to sell Pjanic. He is just not meant for this team. Sell Bonucci, he keeps piling on the mistakes. Get a new Defender. DeLeigt would be the perfect Option. In Attack we need to Sell Dybala, Higuain, Costa. I love Costa of the bench, but he is just to Inconsistent. Players that need to go Bonucci, Pjanic, Dybala, Khedira, Costa, Higuain and Sandro
on the 19th April, 2019 at 8:29pm
Why you all asking for Zaniolo? Although not a bad prospect, i dont see him as a definite future star and a saviour to Juve. Besides, joining Juventus could ruin his career
on the 19th April, 2019 at 7:56pm
Why you all asking for Zaniolo? Although not a bad prospect, i dont see him as a definite future star and a saviour to Juve. Besides, joining Juventus could ruin his career
on the 19th April, 2019 at 7:55pm
Why does every think Verratti is some easy target? Not even Barca could get him when they tried 2 years ago. Verratti even tried to force the move but PSG is a golden prison. They don't need to sell and his new contract is rumoured to be worth 10m/year.
Juve probably can't afford him on top of CR7 and unless PSG has some sort of FFP crisis he Verratti ain't going anywhere.
It's a shame but his prime years will all be wasted in Paris.
Had he gone to Barca he's have been a superstar by now
on the 19th April, 2019 at 7:38pm
Above all Juve need to freshen up the manager. With Allegri it's hard to see too much changing. Juve could still win the UCL under him but they'd need massive luck on their side because his style is incapable of dominating top opposition.

Rather than wholesale change, Juve need 3 or 4 crucial signings of the right age financed by smart sells.
2 Midfielders, 1 CB, probably a fullback. If Dybala goes maybe a replacement for him.
For midfield maybe J. Felix, SMS, Rakitic, Zaniolo, Barella, etc...
on the 19th April, 2019 at 4:16pm
lets all be honest we all knew juve midfield was poor. but the opportuninty for Ronaldo came about I cant say I blame angelli for going after him. the fans that believe has tons of money are wrong. Ronaldo investment is a 400mil investment over 4years. it means juve has probably 40mil transfer budget and the rest comes from sales.SALES: Dybala 70-80mil,Costa 60mil, Higuaín20-30mil=170 mil. You buy Ndombele 60mil, Isco 80mil,Ruben Dias 30-40mil. if a 100mil comes for Pjanic sell and get Verratti
on the 19th April, 2019 at 4:14pm
lets all be honest we all knew juve midfield was poor. but the opportuninty for Ronaldo came about I cant say I blame angelli for going after him.if u believe juve has tons of money, u are wrong. Ronaldo investment is a 400mil investment over 4years. it means juve has probably 40mil transfer budget and the rest comes from sales.SALES: Dybala 70-80mil,Costa 60mil, Higuaín20-30mil=170 mil.You buy Ndombele 60mil, Isco 80mil,Ruben Dias 30-40mil.if a bid 100mil comes for Pjanic sell and get Verratti
on the 19th April, 2019 at 1:59pm
@Marco coz he's cheaper than Verratti? Not to mention to match his salary in PSG woulda been impossible.
on the 19th April, 2019 at 12:46pm
As I've said, Juve are just about LUCK and RONALDO as long as they still hang around with allegri. And today he still talking about scudetto and super coppa. I hope no one celebrate that shitty trophies tomorrow.
on the 19th April, 2019 at 11:57am
Cuadrado, Khedira, Rugani, Audero (gone), Higuain, Pjaca can all go. That's around 120m
Sandro, Pjanic, Costa, Bonucci, Dybala must be touch and go. They'd bring in huge money in this crazy market, probably 300m+

But wholesale changes rarely work - look at the 2 laughing stocks in Milan and their constant turnover of players

De Ligt would be a fine signing, and if Juve sell some of the above, buying him is possible. More skill and pace in midfield (Ramsey hardly the answer) is needed too
on the 19th April, 2019 at 11:53am
If and when Pochettino comes, he will ask to bring his training staff, nutritionist et al long.

This would be a very ideal situation, as clearly Juve's support staff are horrible. It's a joke that Chiellini, even with his injury history, does not feature in the crucial QFs of the UCL, and half the squad, including a young Douglas Costa, remain out for extended periods despite being top-class athletes.

Berna,Kean,CR7 (6/6)
on the 19th April, 2019 at 10:46am
I would love to know why Juve bought Pjanic? He has never impressed me in a Juve shirt and if they had bought Verratti instead we might be talking about Juve being in the semi finals of this years champions league...
on the 19th April, 2019 at 10:45am
Finally, the strikers.

Mandzukic, CR7 & Berna remain, but Dybala must unfortunately be sacrificed. It hurts, but Dybala is indeed too fragile, both mentally and physically, and he will generate a very high asking price of 100+m, which I'm sure PSG or Man City will easily pay. A suitable replacement for Dybala could be Joao Felix: CR7 speaks very highly of him.

Kean MUST start 90% of the games with CR7, with Berna in the hole rotating with Joao Felix/Golovin as and when necessary. (5/6)
on the 19th April, 2019 at 10:44am
The main problem, as the article points out, is the talentless midfield.

Pjanic needs to be sold ASAP, he can continue at another club, mostly the EPL, as they will buy him for 50m.

We need to scout for young, pacey and smart midfielders, players like Nicolo Zaniolo, Rúben Neves, Aleksandr Golovin, and probably Nicolo Barella.

These 4 - taking into account the sale of Pjanic for 50m - will together cost around 150m, not that steep to shore up Juve's MF for next 5+ years at least. (4/6)
on the 19th April, 2019 at 10:44am
The defence, our bulwark, has now crumbled.

We have NO ONE to support Rugani, Chiellini + error-prone moron Bonucci can only last 1 more season. I wish we could turn the clock back and bring Caldara, and even try for Romagna. Sandro needs to be sold to generate cash, and we can buy Romero from Genoa and rotate him with Spinazzola. It's a start...

De Sciglio needs to go as well, and someone like Pol Lirola or another young talent needs to be entrusted to be rotated with Cancelo... (3/6)
on the 19th April, 2019 at 10:43am
At this juncture, Conte is also not worth rehiring. He's been off his game far too long, and he will do nothing more but continue the hegemony of Juventus in Calcio Serie A. Basta, we do not need any more Scudetti, we need to focus on the future, and that can only come by rejuvenation.

So who remains? It would not be a bad idea to try and tempt Pochettino and try to ask him to rebuild the Juve squad. Pochettino has shown he is quite stable, except for his incessant whining.. Worth a try. (2/6)
on the 19th April, 2019 at 10:42am
Every Juve fan knew buying CR7 was a desperate attempt, we wanted to jump the highest knowing very well the ground beneath our feet was like quicksand. Now that we have truly fallen, there have to be wholesale changes.

First and foremost, without an iota of a doubt, Allegri has to go. Anachronistic is the word which comes to mind, he's still living in the pre-2006 era, when football has rapidly evolved a million years already. Goodbye, and stay the f**k out of Vinovo forever.(1/6)
on the 19th April, 2019 at 10:41am
Funny, I had a chat with my friend, a diehard Juventino, yesterday about how worried he was as Juventus players getting older & no sign of rejuvenation at all.
It's not the same Juve that he's been supporting all this time, his team has become Los Galacticos 2.0 aka Los Galacticos wannabe.
Who's to blame but their directors themselves then.
on the 19th April, 2019 at 10:26am

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