Following a disheartening defeat at San Siro on Sunday evening against bitter rivals Inter, Juve’s hopes of clinching a 10th consecutive Scudetto were left in ruin.
Sitting ten points off top spot – albeit with a game in hand – means Andrea Pirlo has a mountain to climb if he wishes to replicate the coaches that have gone before him.
Although it has been a rare occurrence over the last decade, defeat in Milan against an impressive Nerazzurri can happen.
However, delve a little deeper and on this occasion, it feels like slightly more than a hard to take loss against Inter. Yes, the level of performance was abysmal and of course the Antonio Conte factor adds extra damage.
However, it is the circumstances that this particular reverse arrives in that is the main issue with regards to their title challenge.
Draws against Crotone, Benevento, Hellas Verona and the disastrous 3-0 against Fiorentina only serve to aggravate the weekends 2-0 score line.
Disappointing results and dropped points aside, it is the inconsistent performances and Pirlo’s inexperience on the job that makes it hard to envision Juventus staging a turn-around a la 2015-2016, where they had the same points return (33) after 17 match days.
Back then the state of affairs was very different. Juventus were sitting 4th, only three points off the top and went on to win a staggering 19 out of the final 21 rounds, in their current form it is hard to see the Bianconeri replicating anything like that again.
There are more variables in play this time around to. A bigger gap to bridge, stronger rivals, a chaotic fixture schedule and a squad that is transitioning away from familiarity.
The comparison between the situations is perhaps best summarised by the difference in tacticians but also in the make-up of the playing staff.
Then the astute Max Allegri was in charge, whose sole task and focus was on winning games. Put in basic terms, Max had experience and knew how to get the job done.
Now the trainee Andrea Pirlo has control, whose remit appears to be significantly different to the one that was assigned to Allegri. Mister Pirlo’s immaturity is reflected in some of his players who are either new to Juventus or new to the responsibility that is being giving to them.
The club’s hierarchy would have surely known the potential consequences hiring Pirlo would have, and if for some reason they weren’t aware of them at the time of appointment, they certainly will be now.
Surely Andrea Agnelli and co could not have been naïve enough to believe it would be much different? When you commit to making such severe change in a short space of time, it rarely – if ever – runs smoothly from the outset.
The question that remains is, can Juventus stage a historic fight back? If it was any other club in the Italian top flight the instant answer would be no, but the expectation with Juve is difference such is the standard they have set in the league. Even with that in mind, given the growth that is required by their coach, players and level of performance it makes it highly unlikely.
Juventus winning Serie A has become somewhat of an inevitability. In previous years’ calcio fans had blindly bet against La Vecchia Signora, more in hope than expectation.
However, in this instance it feels different. Juve’s invincibility in the Italian top flight is diminishing.
The opportunity to win 10 in a row will never come round again and the Turin giants will ensure they chase this historic landmark until the end.
However, IF this does turn out to be the end of their dominance perhaps it will provide Juventini with a brief moment of reflection.
Their trophy haul over the last decade and the manner in how it was executed will remain unreplaceable in Italy and that deserves contemplation before they commence a new winning chapter.