Thursday February 18 2021
Too easy to blame Bentancur or the referee

Juventus stutter in Portugal, symptomatic of a poor period, and Rocco Fasano argues it’s too simple to only blame Rodrigo Bentancur or the referee.

On the heels of a match in which nothing went right, Juventus collect a 2-1 loss and are sent home packing in an irritating (is there another way to characterise it?) display at the O Dragão Stadium in Porto. 

Bentancur's unfortunate miscalculation sixty-three seconds after kick off opened the dances to what may be a key passage of Juve's 2020-21 Champions League. That notwithstanding, it's too easy to blame Bentancur.

This match is the offspring of a performance that evidenced a particular period of this 2020-21 Juventus: lacking in will, confidence, determination, character, ideas, and identity.

Sure, bad luck had its place: lack of form of key players like Morata, Cristiano Ronaldo, Giorgio Chiellini, Arthur and Weston McKennie; the aforementioned unfortunate touch by Bentancur, Paulo Dybala being a non-entity the entire season, and a clear penalty denied at the death.

This does not excuse, however, Juventus' poor period. Truth be told, the signs were there all along.

The defeats against Napoli, Inter, and Fiorentina among other performances show that the only constant in this Juventus is inconsistency. 

Experiments are for scientists

Pirlo was hurled - yes, he's partly to blame because he accepted the challenge - into the position of coaching a group of tired, ageing superstars (chiefly senators like Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci) mixed with green, raw talent (like McKennie and Dejan Kulusevski) in a year with no preseason.

Il Maestro was therefore forced to perform his experiments "live". These featured wild additions from the U23 - chief among them Gianluca Frabotta - but produced lost points like the draws in Crotone and Benevento. The fruits - save the clumsy exploit against Genoa that  catapulted Juve into the Coppa Italia quarter final thanks performances by members of the U23 team - are yet to be seen. 

Inability to breakdown defences

Harmonious game play is hardly traceable. Pirlo has struggled to put his imprint on this Juventus. If he doesn't hurry, this team may sooner impose its imprint on him, and Maurizio Sarri knows something about that. 

Like his predecessor, Pirlo is having a hard time breaking down stubborn defences - the match against Porto was no exception. Speed of play, and the ability to control game tempo - i.e., slow down and speed up game play, something il Maestro earned his nickname for - is lacking. The result is fruitless droning, mechanical, ball possession. 

Yes, the actors aren't the right ones: Bentancur and Adrien Rabiot aren't Xavi and Andres Iniesta. But dynamism isn't only innate. It's an attitude.

Is it surprising that success has been witnessed this season when Juventus has espoused a tactic of containment and counter-attack against attacking sides?

Asynchronous defensive phase 

Couple a stagnant offensive phase to an asynchronous defensive phase, and the disaster is complete. So much for Pirlo's talk of "reagression" - namely aggressively attacking the opponent to regain ball possession - in his coaching thesis, this characteristic has been mistranslated into this team. As a result the team looks arranged on the field in a disorderly fashion, and seldom defends as a solid unit. 

Game plans gone awry, lapses in concentration leading to costly mistakes all come to match preparation. One is left with the distinct impression that there have been a few matches where the technical staff has let this aspect fall by the wayside.

The saving grace: How do you say "remuntada" in Portuguese?

The saving grace for Il Maestro is that Juventus brings home a result from which the bianconeri have the ability to come back from in the return match in Turin, which would save Juventus from a debacle in Mr. Pirlo's first season.

With a Coppa Italia final to play, a compromised position in Serie A, yet another elimination in the last 16 stage at the hands of an underdog (as per the betting houses) like Porto would be too much.


Have your say...
Give Signor Pirlo a chance. How much pressure for a first time coach??? And at Juventus. Change takes time. I would be happy to qualify for champions league next year. Our defence need rejuvenated, midfield need sparkle. Cash in Ronaldo give dybala a chance and some of the youngsters. Keep Pirlo he is very very intelligent, just give him a whole season with no interruptions (COVID)
on the 20th February, 2021 at 4:02pm
Anytime that decides to play keep away in their own box deserves to lose
on the 20th February, 2021 at 12:48am

Youre right, 25 years is 2,5 decades.

Its so long ago, can you guess the Juveplayer who played in that final in 1996, 26 years old at the time?

Antonio Conte.
on the 19th February, 2021 at 11:02pm
there is onother reason that juve needs according to the clups herritage at least 6 of the line up should be italian other wise no emmotion and no eurobian glory remember juve s first eufa cup 1977 all players we italian
on the 19th February, 2021 at 8:49pm
@JUVE PAYED 40 MILLION FOR BERNARDESCHI: not Winning CL for 25 years and not winning anything for a decade is a huge difference ! It's not like I can remember the last time Juve finished deal last in the CL group....i bet interisti can because it's fresh in their minds ! Don't get mad at me if Conte averages 1.54 points per game in CL .... does a top coach average 1.54 points per game in CL ? you tell me....
on the 19th February, 2021 at 5:23pm
Here is my thesis for Pirlo-

Slow pace, predictable passing and suicidal passes out from the back = a recipe for disaster.....
on the 19th February, 2021 at 2:02pm
@Pinturicchio, how did you come to the conclusion that I'm a Juve troll, when I've supported them for 30 years,? read my posts again.
on the 19th February, 2021 at 1:12pm
I think that Pirlo deserves huge blame. Any fan can forgive a team being tactically out thought, but to be out ran by this bang average Porto team is disgraceful, especially considering largely the same group did the same thing last year vs bang average Lyons. These players may not fit perfectly into what Pirlo is trying to do, but their lack of effort is a disgrace to the shirt. The mentality of this group is embarrassing. They need a rocket up their a$^e before the second leg
on the 19th February, 2021 at 10:45am
Juve were atrocious. It was the worst performance of the season and a total travesty that they saved it for the most important game. Everyone from the President down to the players are to blame. Paratici should be sacked along with potentially Nedved. The failure to bring a midfielder who can dictate play for almost 5 years now (since Pirlo played) weighs heavily. But as bad as our midfield is, I have to ask, how hard is it to put in 100% for a knockout tie? There was zero intensity.
on the 19th February, 2021 at 10:42am
@ Pinturicchio

Grow up, clown
on the 19th February, 2021 at 10:27am
Paratici offered Pirlo Chiesa or Aouar in Summer, and Pirlo chose Chiesa, so the fact that our midfield lacks something ain't just Paratici's fault. 3/3
on the 19th February, 2021 at 8:24am
Marotta also spent 40 mil on Bernardeschi for God knows which reason and signed Llorente for free as our next centre forward. Rabiot ain't the best midfielder around, but he did have an assist against Porto. Signing him for free wasn't bad. Ramsey was bad piece of business no matter how you look at it, but the last few years, there weren't many quality midfielders around. 2/3
on the 19th February, 2021 at 8:24am
When I see Pirlo's face on the sidelines, he often seems clueless, and the team has a lot more potential than it has been showing this year.

I wouldn't cast all the blame on Paratici. The real problems started when we sold Pogba and bought Higuain and replaced Pogba with Lamina. Marotta was still in control during those days. Paratici bought Ronaldo; De Ligt, Kulusevski, Demiral, and Mckennie. Sure not all his buys are golden, but they never are. 1/3
on the 19th February, 2021 at 8:23am
"Firstly, CR7 first Season they went to the semis"

No no, of course they didnt go to the semis, that was only in your dreams lol. Ajax got knocked out by Tottenham in the semis.

And youre right it can be worse, just look at Juve not winning CL for 25 years.

Juve actually got worse than they were before they signed CR7 lol, and hes the reason you cant upgrade really in midfield because he makes about 2,5 million euro net every month!!!

Barella make 2,5 a year and is a better player.
on the 19th February, 2021 at 5:19am
Juve once had the fantastic 4 in the midfield now we have replaced them with grinders and free pick ups like overrated rabbiots and ramseys never mind bentancur can only tackle and run and has shown over and over he cannot handle the ball
suffice to say the ridiculed Artur has now turned into our best holding midfielder!
We are now paying the price for moving Pogba for Higuain as the midfield does little for our defence and virtually nothing for our forwards hence the struggle to create!
on the 19th February, 2021 at 12:18am
Juve's approach was dismal? But tbf to Pirlo, subs did make an impact. Least Morata was willing to run in behind. Good job they had Chiesa, he looks to be as sharp again now as when he first burst onto scene, only more effective. To say, club has changed direction so often, I don't think they've dropped too far. It's just serie a is more competitive now. But some of their buys appear to be panic-driven. They're so desperate for that CL, not that you could tell by last nights passive showing!
on the 18th February, 2021 at 11:27pm
@Pinturicchio... You should be blind enough to not see a lot of users with "I MISS ..."? If it doesn't ring a bell, ask your beloved club supporter "I MISS MARCO BRANCA AT INTER" why so many Inter fans are here?! For once more (I lost the count how many times I told you) either stop coming to FI or stop complaining about everything, it is as simple as that.
on the 18th February, 2021 at 9:32pm
The fact that this comment section is a playground for cancerous trolls like LucaC, Token Bubbles, and other Inter idiots who live only to spew bile against Juventus, speaks volumes of the pathetic levels this blog has stopped to stay relevant.

Extremely sad, and absolutely pathetic.
on the 18th February, 2021 at 8:45pm
@ JUVE PAYED 40 MILLION FOR BERNARDESCHI - Firstly, CR7 first Season they went to the semis and last year to the round of 16 - some teams go from 3rd place in the CL group stage to dead last in the Group stage the following year so i can assure you it can be worse. Secondly, Ronalso was 33 when he signed. Thirdly, Arthur is exactly what Juve's midfield needs, a holding midfield that rarely loses the ball and has a 95% passing accuracy. Arthur out we lose 2...coincidence ? i think not !
on the 18th February, 2021 at 8:18pm
I think Rocco sums it up well. Basically Juve are in trouble. The midfield continues to look horrible. Bentancur does not show the drive to move the ball forward instead is content mostly to play it safe and backwards, basically picked up where Pjanic left off. Rabiot? Was the guy even playing? Basically a ghost on the field. They showed some promise at the beginning of the season. What/who is coaching the midfield at Juve because it seems that players start well but then become dung.
on the 18th February, 2021 at 7:37pm
Plenty of qualified tacticians on this thread.... far too much time spent playing fantasy football.
on the 18th February, 2021 at 5:56pm
Column is spot on. This team needs a good kick in the a**, including Ronaldo. Porto isn't a push over for anyone but for goodness sake Juve seems to care more about how they look rather then how they play,including Pirlo. Where is the speed, creativity and aggression. Do they look like they are fighting hard to win or just performing. Too much money spent on listless players unwilling to sacrifice for collective success.Nothing is given on the pitch it must be taken.Wake up Pirlo! Motivate!
on the 18th February, 2021 at 5:54pm
I really miss you "I MISS MARCO BRANCA AT INTER"... Please give your insightful comments... No? quick to mock others but disappear when his beloved team loses... total LOSER mentality.
on the 18th February, 2021 at 4:42pm
Rabiot Bentancur and Ramsey out.....bring in de Paul locatelli and if possible Verratti..then play defence light...Chiellini or demiral...Alex Sandro.....midfield de Paul...verrati...locatelli...attack...ronaldo...Dybala...and Chiesa....what a team this would be and with a coach like Pirlo that like to play good football then you will see an unstoppable juve.
on the 18th February, 2021 at 4:31pm
First of all Porto are no pushovers...Porto had 5 clean sheets in a row and one of them was against Man City...Bentancur and Szczesny were owe full last’s so important to start well against a team like Porto giving them the lead from the start that’s what they like defend with 10 players and counter attack’s.

Juve need to get rid of Rabiot he plays one good game in ten...I would also send Ramsey packing out he is on 400k a week that’s 21mil a year this is outrageous.cont
on the 18th February, 2021 at 4:09pm
Juve were shell-shocked by the early goals. That's poor concentration and at this level, conceding a goal after 60 seconds is unacceptable. I rate Bentancur but that was a royal mistake which you cannot afford against a purely counterattacking team. The penalty at the end was obvious to all except the ref. So while Juve were poor, they were good enough for the draw. They have the team to go much further and even limping, they've already won more than inter this season who everyone's raving about
on the 18th February, 2021 at 4:06pm
Thank you for your comments, everyone. Glad to see so much reaction!

Rocco (@CatenaccioNA)
on the 18th February, 2021 at 3:59pm
They need to hope Cuadrado is back from injury before the next match because for me he's more effective for them than Ronaldo. Other than diving which he's an expert of doing it (followed by Chiesa then Ronaldo),he actually provide good crosses that have saved them multiple times this season. If Juve end up in the group of death next year then they'll not even get out of it even though the chances of them being in a hard group is slim. History doesn't lie they struggle against CL weaker sides.
on the 18th February, 2021 at 1:33pm
Aouar and Son would go a long way solving Juventus' problems. Sell Bernadeschi, Rugani, Ramsey and one of Bentancur or Rabiot. McKennie should play in midfield with Bentacur or Rabiot as a reserve.
on the 18th February, 2021 at 1:03pm
In his post match press conf, Pirlo said that after conceding the goal so early, the team lost its confidence. A team that loses its confidence after 60 seconds is not worthy of being in the UCL Mr. Pirlo. Its indefensible to even think this, let alone say it on TV. What does it really say about your team and you as a coach??? Guys, we conceded in the first minute..its all over..lets go home...Is Pirlo brainless??? I hate saying this but this hapless man needs to go!!
on the 18th February, 2021 at 12:34pm

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