BLOG ITALIA
Wednesday January 20 2021
Are Juventus' title hopes over?

There is a long way to go in Serie A and no one will be ready to write Juve off just yet, but Elio Salerno believes the Inter defeat certainly feels more like a case of nine and out for the Bianconeri.

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.

Have your say...
I warn you fanboy.
on the 26th January, 2021 at 3:31pm
@Gman, I think Arthur will get better when played as Mezz'ala. He has the superb quality to hold up the ball and a great ability to link up with the forwards. IMO, He doesn't suit the DM role. Actually, Arthur has great potential to become a classic playmaker only if he can improve his vision and killer passing.
on the 26th January, 2021 at 10:38am
Bentancur and Arthur are too slow with the ball both in terms of vision and playing the ball forward with 1 touch passes to speed the game up. They want to hold on to the ball and play it safe. Bentancur I don't blame as much because his strength is a defensive mid and Juve should not try to change him into a playmaker. Even Ronaldo is at fault for this, choosing individualism over finding the right player at the right time.
on the 25th January, 2021 at 8:34pm
@inter - you are right, Milan will be just out of the top 4 come end of season I think. Done well to get to this point on top but clearly 4-5 stronger squads in Italy ahead of them.
on the 24th January, 2021 at 11:53am
Chiellini and Bonucci are getting too old. Demiral and De Ligt should be starters.
Pirlo pass up the opportunity to play with two wingers deploying Ramsey or McKennie on the flank where Kulesevski should be playing.
Rabiot and Bentancur are not creative and should never play in the same line up.
Arthur plays sideways and lacks that killer pass.
Why not play
4,,3,1,2
Cuadradro, De Ligt, Demiral, Sandro
Kuleseski, McKennie, Chiesa
Dybala or Ramsey
Ronaldo and Morata or Dybala
on the 23rd January, 2021 at 11:58am
@michael - long way to go this season, will be like 5-6 points between top to 5th at the midway point if Milan lose to Atalanta. Do Milan have a better team than Atalanta, Napoli, roma or lazio? If they want top 4 then the atalanta game is must win! A win will go a long way to securing top 4. There are a lot of good teams around the mark. No guarantees for inter or juve either. It’s exciting this year.
on the 23rd January, 2021 at 1:43am
Milan have done incredibly well with the players they have had out. However important to note, those coming in and who have played well, have probably performed at a level equal if not above that of Milan’s missing players. While on paper they may be ranked first choice, none of these starters would be automatic inclusions in any top teams. Just my thoughts, i think other than 1-2 players (who haven’t even been out), most of the others would he bench options anywhere else.
on the 22nd January, 2021 at 10:59pm
It is always hard to count out the Juventini, when they have so many players with the skills to succeed. However that feeling of invincability no longer surrounds this group.
Why? Because other then Ronaldo and an aging Chiellini they the lack the belief in team success. When a team is a collection of pieces paid for like mercenaries it is difficult to develope a team chemistry as players vie for notoriety.Pirlo's task, as was Conte's and Pioli is giving yourself up forthe team and it takes time
on the 22nd January, 2021 at 10:30pm
@Kledi - I watched the game against Napoli and tbh I did not see any improvements from the game played against Inter. They were still very slow, lacked creativity (badly) in MF, and their finishing was abysmal. I cant say Pirlo has done better than Sarri. Sarri had to change his style to suit the players. Wrt Milan and Barca, Milan put out a depleted side. A full strength Milan would have taken all 3 points. They did play well against Barca. That, they did do!!
on the 21st January, 2021 at 6:29pm
I think Pirlo is doing a good job if anyone has actually seen juve play for the past few years the style of play has changed a lot and for the good....I see somethings that this juve team never use to do specially keeping possession the rest will come,you people forget what he did to Barcelona and Milan...he lost one game with inter and he is useless according to some people...yes he drew a few games against so called smaller teams but that was at the beginning of the season.
on the 21st January, 2021 at 3:20pm
Not sure if Pirlo was coerced into taking this job. He could have said no. Xavi turned down Barca, as he wanted to get more coaching experience before taking on a colossal task. I like Pirlo. But, I think he has been a little naïve in his decision. I can't see Juve crawling up the table the way they did in the 2nd year under Allegri - when they won 19 games out of 21. Milan and Inter seem up for it. I think Juve might be staring down the barrel of Europa League next year!
on the 21st January, 2021 at 3:14pm
@Inter Calm down fella, Milan lower than 4th? Inter could well win, I do think they're the strongest, but thinking Milan will fall out of 4th is serious wishful thinking. If Milan have been lucky so far, just imagine how they'll be once they get their full starting 11 back, which they haven't had in months.
on the 21st January, 2021 at 3:06pm
I think it's to late for Pirlo and we should get Pochettino or another top coach. Pirlo needs time and he could get it with the U-23 team he was signed for.
on the 21st January, 2021 at 2:33pm
We need to get midfielders.
locatelli and auoar!! Period!!
Betancur and berna played a gr8 game yesterday but need consistency to stay in this squad. Ramsey very inconsistent and making alot of money.
Then there is the issue of getting the ball to the strikers.
Finally bonucci hitting some long balls over the top to ronaldo which he should be doing from long time.
on the 21st January, 2021 at 12:23pm
Inters to lose now. They have a strong squad that will get weekly rests once mid week Europe games start again. Sensi will hopefully find his way back onto the pitch just in time for euros. Milan have done well but luck will run out. Suspect this weekend against Atalanta will be the beginning. Against a poor juve they still lost. Tbh top 4 is very much up for grabs, I think at the end of the season itl be inter, juve, Napoli and Atalanta. Roma and Milan won’t be far behind.
on the 21st January, 2021 at 11:58am
In addition to the above article, I think it should also be noted that due to the condensed fixture schedule necessary because of the global pandemic, Pirlo has to play a must win game every 3 days.
Juve have a very good squad but that can also be a problem in itself, as top players demand playing time. Pirlo has to manage this through extensive player rotation. Many of the players are young and inexperienced and inevitably mistakes will happen. Rule Juve out of the race at your peril
on the 21st January, 2021 at 9:21am
let not forget pirlo didnt have a pre-season.s really and truely he didnt get a chance a coach gets to go through different formations and who is his best lineup. i still think juve has the better players. i think pirlo just needs to get a simple formation and put his best players in it. i think he would have learnt who his best midfielders are. these are mckennie, arthur, bentancur. the others such as ramsey, rabiot. get some key players back like cuadrado, sandro, deligt would makea difference
on the 20th January, 2021 at 10:48pm
Think we looked solid today against Napoli. Looked like we played a 4-4-2, and i liked it. Solid defence, and ok going forward. This against one of the best attacking teams in Italy. If we can keep this up we can get back into the scudetto race, and show all of Italy who is boss.
on the 20th January, 2021 at 10:23pm
maybe pirlo isn't good but the squad of juve is good enough to retain the tittle. even so they are 10 points behind milan with half the season left to play i wouldn't discount juve literally until it is mathematically impossible for them to win the tittle.

besides juve are in transition it is going to get to take time to rejuvenate this side with fresh blood and for pirlo to start learning all the tricks of management it could be the case of 1 tittle lost for another 5 tittles to be won.
on the 20th January, 2021 at 7:26pm
Mez,you hit the nail on the head. Pirlo belongs in the technical area. He is not a coach. Everyone talks about his “football brain”. You need more than that to be a good coach. Everyone loves him, but he can’t coach Juve. The other problem is the midfield. Second rate at best. Rabiot, Ramsey, Berna, Bentancur have no business being in a Juventus shirt. Title hopes are over. Champ League hopes are minimal. Even Coppa Italia seems like a far reach. Sadly
on the 20th January, 2021 at 5:56pm
I dont think it is over yet. If Juve win the game in hand its a 7 point lead with just over half the season remaining.

Juventus have played both Milan sides away from home and its been clear from the 3 that Covid has taken out more Juve players than either Milan club has dealt with. With equal numbers missing from each team id be relatively confident Juve could make up the gap.
on the 20th January, 2021 at 4:29pm
@ Chris, Given the way Milan have reinforced so far in Jan and the way their ambition in the europa league tends to diminish around mid Feb, I think it would be quite unfair to dismiss their title ambitions.

Even with Injuries the past month or two they have navigated each round knowing how to get a result. They could be forgiven for their one blip since March with the limited squad at their disposal against Juve.

Just my 10 cents.
on the 20th January, 2021 at 4:26pm
@ Chris, Given the way Milan have reinforced so far in Jan and the way their ambition in the europa league tends to diminish around mid Feb, I think it would be quite unfair to dismiss their title ambitions.

Even with Injuries the past month or two they have navigated each round knowing how to get a result. They could be forgiven for their one blip since March with the limited squad at their disposal against Juve.

Just my 10 cents.
on the 20th January, 2021 at 4:25pm
I think we all know the answer to this one - and its a big fat YES, their title hopes are over. Sadly, Pirlo has neither the charisma, nor the experience, nor the savviness to inspire a come back. When I hear him talk, he does not strike me as someone who can fire his team up. Personally, I think he will make a much better technical director working in the office than a coach.
on the 20th January, 2021 at 1:51pm
Unparalleled squad depth will make Juve there or thereabouts at the end of the season, not because they deserve it but because they've invested so much money in their squad. When the fixtures become more congested I still think it will be between Inter due to no Europe, sadly (HA), and Juve because they could field 2 separate starting 11s and both teams be competent. I think if they don't win Serie A or UCL this year this will be the start of a rough transition period for Juventus.
on the 20th January, 2021 at 12:39pm

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