Saturday August 15 2020
Failure is a fine line

The Champions League has again proved itself to be unpredictable and perhaps Juventus can re-evaluate the ‘failure’ tag when compared with Manchester City, writes Susy Campanale.

Maurizio Sarri was much-maligned for saying Juventus directors would be ‘amateurs’ to judge him on one Champions League match, but he was ultimately right. The decision to sack him had already been made, regardless of the result with Lyon. That’s just as well, because the 3-1 victory over Manchester City proved Juve were hardly the only victims of Rudi Garcia’s ruthless side. That same Pep Guardiola who Bianconeri fans have craved for years, the one they maintain will end the Champions League curse, has wasted millions on the transfer market only to see Max Allegri twice get closer than he did.

Juventus are obsessed with winning this trophy, but they’re not the only ones, they are simply insulted more for failing. Have they done any worse in the tournament than PSG, a side that scraped past Atalanta in stoppages for their first semi-final in decades? Or Manchester City, with Guardiola unable to get them into the final four throughout his extremely expensive tenure? How many more times are Guardiola’s fans going to excuse him with talk of bad luck when the quarter-finals are always his downfall?

The arrogance of the media in Italy and England when drawing Lyon came back to bite them. This side finished seventh in Ligue 1, but only after changing their coach midway through and being without Memphis Depay for most of the season. It would be like comparing the Milan that ended the campaign with the one we saw lose 5-0 to Atalanta in December.

How do you think Kylian Mbappé knows what ‘Farmers’ League’ even means? It’s because he saw it so much on social media from arrogant twerps who wanted to make themselves look good to their mates. So when he tweeted that out after Lyon eliminated Manchester City 3-1, it was the perfect response to months of childish insults based on nothing.

The top four teams in the Champions League are from France and Germany, the divisions most often referred to as ‘Farmers’ Leagues’ by people who also confidently claim Aston Villa could beat Bayern Munich and genuinely believe it. People who say Kalidou Koulibaly is over-rated, but also that Virgil van Dijk is better than Paolo Maldini ever was. You know the type.

The Champions League has always been a bit of a lottery, by no means always rewarding the best team throughout the competition, but rather those that finish the season with the most gas in the tank. That has never been more evident than after a pandemic that saw French and German teams get significantly more rest compared to the Spanish, English and especially Italians in the weeks before the European fixtures resumed. Without home and away legs, it takes on the added frisson of a World Cup tournament, where one bad day can destroy everything and there’s no making up for it. Get your tactics or starting XI wrong, and you’ve wasted at least half the tie. How many times would Bayern Munich have to play Barcelona again to get another 8-2 result?

Nuance has been almost entirely eradicated in the age of social media, so it’s no surprise to see it have the same effect on football. Allegri was not a failure for reaching the Final twice, yet he is far more harshly judged than Guardiola, largely by Juventus fans who so badly wanted Pep to replace him last summer. Imagine the Bianconeri keeping Guardiola during his recent Champions League track record, having spent a fraction of what he did at Manchester City. It just wouldn’t happen.

Italian football fans of other clubs constantly bring up the lack of European success at Juventus as if it were some sort of ‘proof’ that they only succeed in Serie A because of help from referees. That is nonsense. In that case, how do you explain Manchester City and PSG struggling to progress past the quarter-finals every single year? Some clubs are simply better suited to the long drag of a league format, rather than the more focused knockout round approach. That doesn’t negate everything they’ve done in other tournaments, nor make their entire season a failure.

I even read some claim it’s irrelevant how well Atalanta played, all people will remember is that they lost. In that case, why bother watching football at all? Just check the results, make your judgment, and move on. That feels like what some people are already doing, anyway, and it’s not what sport is about.

Have your say...
"How many times would Bayern Munich have to play Barcelona again to get another 8-2 result?"
Second tie will finish 10:1 for FC Bayern I believe.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 9:24am
These are good days of me being FC Bayern fan ;-)
The question is why Napoli didn't take their chance?
on the 16th August, 2020 at 9:11am
Spot on Susy.

Also Juve actually won their match against Lyon, Man City didn't, and all this 'you lost to 7th in the Ligue 1' talk is pathetic, Lyon deserved respect before their matches and credit afterwards, as do Juve and Man City for the way their played and almost getting the result they needed.

I was surprised by how tough and motivated Lyon were, Rudi has improved a lot Ince Roma and transmitted strength from the touchline.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 8:25am
What's more concerning regarding Juventus is that they're being linked with the same stodgy names under Pirlo as they were before. Have they not learnt anything? How would Benzema (32), Dzeko (33), Zapata (29), Jiminez (29) reduce the average age of the squad. Unless you can pick them up for really cheaply any of these players will need to be replaced in 2-3 seasons and most likely be on big wages with no resale value. I.e exactly the same as most of the current squad
on the 16th August, 2020 at 8:15am
This is exactly the mentality that needs to be avoided at all costs, praying that Lyon won just to make Juve look less bad "Oh look Man City lost to them too so we're alright now, it's not just us". No, both Juve and City should be beating a side like Lyon of course upsets can happen, it's part of football but trying to justify your loss by pointing at other teams who also were upset is a defeatist mentality and will get you nowhere.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 8:10am
to the point that I even thought Pochettino, with his Italian roots and his ideas, may bring in some new perspective. Sadly, he's not one of the best options around.

The Sarri appointment was a surprise, but firing him prematurely shows the way Agnelli is horribly setting up Pirlo for failure, I highly doubt we Juventini will see any changes in Europe next year too.

Hopefully football will balance out now with more passion than money attracting fans, but it remains to be seen.

Forza Juve.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 7:58am
Excellent analysis, Susy.

Your previous 2 articles were good also, so I'm glad you and Giancarlo are still penning articles faithfully.

A few points to add, from my PoV:
1) Allegri wasn't fired because of his lack of European silverware, but that the club wasn't moving forward anymore. Every season we knew we'd start with a handicap in Europe, irrespective of his record in Serie A and/or Coppa Italia.

I've never liked Guardiola, so I can't say I wanted him. I preferred others

(Part 1/2)
on the 16th August, 2020 at 7:52am
I rarely do comment. But this is an excellent article and I completely agree. Fans these day care more about bantering with other club's fan and wants to win just to make other fans inferior. They hardly want to understand the details and Truth. The truth is far complex and not plain one liner like fire this, buy XXX. There is so much immaturity in the air these days.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 7:34am
Suzy, great article. It's always been a ridiculous argument about Juventus' 'failure' in Europe. Even though Juve have won two UCL trophies and been in a total of 9 finals, poor judges of football maintain they are a failure. On points earned per win/draw, Juve is the 5th ranked team in the last 30 years. That does not sound like failure. Spending gazillions like PSG and Man City and still never getting to a final, is a failure.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 6:35am
Great article Susy. All valid points. Juve were a header away from meeting City and who knows in hindsight it could have been Sarri’s Juve in the Semis instead of Lyon.
Fine margins.. I was truly gutted for Atalanta. A team that always attacks sadly started thinking about defending. A braver approach perhaps in the second half would have killed them off? Watching BT pains me. Every game they have to bring up tenuous links to the Prem every 5 minutes. It’s miopic and xenophobic. Forza Farmers!
on the 16th August, 2020 at 5:38am
"The Champions League has always been a bit of a lottery"

Haha, of course. Juve just got the wrong number every year for 25 years, while all the others numbers got picked.

If you wanna try to camouflage how sad you are about Juve failing again, you need to do a better job.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 4:39am
I understand why Football Italia is hiring lol.

Embarrasing journalistic level.
The hole blog is filled with frustration, broken ego and emotion about Juve lost, and the pathetic"Hey but what about Man City?

"Some clubs are simply better suited to the long drag of a league format, rather than the more focused knockout round approach."

Sure lol, its just destiny then I guess. No one to blame for 25 years of european fiasco then.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 4:33am
Thanks FIGC for cramming a bunch of useless games together. Of course they can't even get clubs to fix their pitches or have the refereeing match the rest of Europe. Serie A teams are hamstrung in Europe and the results are always lower than they should be.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 4:16am
Their Beloved Guardiola hasn't reached a Champions league final for 9 years! If Bayern win this season they'd have won the competition either side of his tenure with different managers. They say they want an attractive passing style of football - when tiki-taka has been superseded with high pressing, high energy football closer to what Allegri was capable of. Juve have regressed from top down - apart from Ronaldo the entire club lacks leaders.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 4:10am
Sarri was never the right hire, and he's not the only one to blame - the tools who hired him (Paratootsie and The Blonde Bozo) should also shoulder some of the responsibility. Have you watched Juve play this season? Lack of ideas, slow and sluggish, extremely vulnerable at the back. If anything, the cancerous clown Sorri made us worse, further exacerbating our flaws and failing to capitalize on our strengths. Losing to Lyon in the RO16 of the CL constitutes failure, and that's the bottom line.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 4:00am
A mistake to get rid of Allegri - in this season's Champions league he'd have been in his element. Mindset is key, they say it's not a dream but an objective and yet they contradict themselves with negativity and pessimism - i.e. Nedved, Paratici, Sarri - pre-empting the worst prior to playing Lyon in Turin, one game doesn't define us bla bla. They show to much respect to big clubs, when over two seasons, Lyon, Leipzig, Ajax, Atalanta have all proven that respect doesn't yield the best approach.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 3:56am
I thought this was going to make excuses for Sarri's failure but spot on this. Juve fans' take on Allegri has some truth and Guardiola fantasy is probably misplaced, however, the real issue is the number of years that we have gone without CL and being sick of 'nearly there' with neither results nor an established positive identity on the pitch. Sometimes you just have to do simple things well with a team ethic that allows for champions to express themselves, like Bayern.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 2:56am
Finally, a thorough analysis of the true meaning of success and failure in European soccer, which is a complex equation where several factors must be taken into account. Instead, too many analyst / commentator wannabes see it as a simplistic, binary formula: “loss = failure; win = success.” Boneheaded “experts” like Alexi Salas should learn from Ms. Campanale.
on the 16th August, 2020 at 12:09am

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