Juventus had one of the worst evenings in recent years on Tuesday. Not only did they lose 3-0 at the Allianz Stadium for the first time in their history, but a few hours earlier, Napoli won their appeal to replay the match against the Old Lady in Turin.
The game was supposed to be played on October 4, but Napoli didn't show up because Piotr Zielinski and Eljif Elmas had tested positive for COVID.
The Azzurri were initially given a 3-0 defeat by default and docked a point, but on Tuesday they won the third appeal to CONI, who ruled the game be replayed, probably next January.
One would thought a group of players with such a winning mentality like those of Juventus would go onto the pitch and prove to be the best, even if against a different opponent than Napoli. One would think they wanted to prove the entire league that they were still the team to beat.
Juventus sources said the verdict of the appeal left them ‘indifferent.’ What was seen on the pitch said that wasn’t quite true. Their desire to win, their desire to be the best side, all the time, in every game, has been widely seen as one of the secrets to successes in the last decade.
Juventus have won nine Serie A titles in a row, not only because they've had better players, but also because of their attitude. Nothing has ever let them down. During Antonio Conte, Max Allegri and Maurizio Sarri's spells, each defeat was followed by a vehement performance in the match after.
This time, they didn't lose on the pitch, but they did lose three points before the game. They showed no positive reaction on the pitch. When they did have one, it was wrong.
Juve showed little personality as Fiorentina took an early lead through a Dusan Vlahovic goal. The Bianconeri's reaction was not organised and far too nervous. A reckless tackle from Juan Cuadrado on Gaetano Castrovilli after 18 minutes cost the Colombian winger a straight red card after a VAR review.
It was the fifth red card shown to a Juventus player this season. No other club has more in Europe so far. And that says a lot.
The referee's decision to send off Cuadrado was fair, even if Federico La Penna did not have one of his best nights. The Old Lady at least thought so and protested for two possible penalty kicks in the second half, and a second yellow card to be shown to Borja Valero.
The Old Lady's irritable attitude could also be seen in the reactions of Aaron Ramsey and Pavel Nedved. The Welshman kicked a bottle of water after he was subbed off in the first half following Cuadrado's red.
The club's vice-president left the standings in protest after that La Penna did not give Juventus a penalty kick for a contact between Bartłomiej Drągowski and Federico Bernardeschi. Minutes earlier, Alex Sandro had accidentally put the ball past Wojciech Szczęsny to double Fiorentina’s lead.
When the ex-Bianconeri defender Martin Caceres netted La Viola's third Juventus had already left the pitch, at least on a mental level. That’s not the reaction you would expect from the master of the last Serie A decade.
On Tuesday morning, Juventus were only four points behind Serie A table leaders Milan. Tonight they could be 10 points off the Rossoneri if Stefano Pioli's side beat Lazio at the San Siro on Wednesday evening.
They lost six points playing just one game and Andrea Agnelli's dream to end the perfect decade with a 10th straight Scudetto seems now as far as ever. Juventus need to react, but they need to do it in the old way.