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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.

@CatenaccioNA

Have your say...
fabio paratici is the best rubentus director. he choose pirlo and sack sarri only one season. remember sarri compromised his tactical lots, the player not fit to his sarriball and still win league. what amusing their sold pjanic for arthur when they know they want to sack sarri. pjanic simply much better suited to pirlo, and arthur to sarri. paratici the best director to destroy rubentus period.
on the 18th February, 2021 at 12:14pm
Juve need a target man, Haaland would be ideal.

Midfielders to move the ball around quickly with quality and can press the opposition; likes of Locatelli, De Paul and Aouar a must.

Need a full back(s) with speed and ability to drive and can cross. A cheap and attainable target for me could be Emerson from Chelsea, can play both LB and RB and provide competition for Sandro and Cuadrado.

Bring Romero back from Atalanta to phase out injury prone Chiellini & Bonucci could be an option at DCM
on the 18th February, 2021 at 11:40am
D downheal for juventus started whit apointment of Fabio Paratichi its as simple as that.He sold cancelo he sold pjanic he sold Spinazzola,and he bring in d likes of rabiot and ramsey firs laking class to be at juve and d secont unjured all d time.Paratichi spen 200 mil euros for bench players.Juve budget for next few seasons is spend that why he had to make a 2 year loan to bring in chiesa.He buy expensive flops and sels cheap,if he manage to sell at all,usualy d club lets them go for free
on the 18th February, 2021 at 11:10am
@TokenBubble @JohnSmith

Glad it's not just me who thinks like this. Completely agree
on the 18th February, 2021 at 11:00am
@ RobbyBaggio2021

Spot on, it's the transfer policy that has hurt the club the most IMO. They either need or are soon going to need a new LB,RB, 2x Cms, a new LW and to work out what to do with Dybala. Where is the money going to come from for this when hardly any of the squad have any resale value and are on astronomical wages.
on the 18th February, 2021 at 10:57am
Pirlo can only work with what he's got. When will Paratici & co realise that yes injecting more creative players in the team is important, but what we seriously lack is players with speed who can press. It's not just creative play that unlocks defences, especially in CL! I always expected this season to be a transitional one with the hope that the club will buy big in the summer. Maybe they will? but I bet with the clowns in charge it will be wasteful buys and will not solve our aged problem!
on the 18th February, 2021 at 10:43am
Two grave mistakes.
1 You cannot play 442 with two central defenders who are similar and cannot take on an opponent. Bentancur and Rabiot both lack the killer pass and are slow on the first one-two meters.
2 Playing McKennie as a winger, when he's a central midfielder makes zero sense. Only Chiesa is a threat going forward. Especially with a disappointing Sandro and defensive Danielo.
on the 18th February, 2021 at 10:16am
Why not simplify it rather than trying this asymmetrical hybrid formation. 4,3,3: Scez, Cuadrado, De Ligt, Chiellini, Sandro/Danilo (Need a new dynamic LB next season): Arthur, Rabiot/Bentancur, Mckennie (Replace Rabiot/Bentancur with someone like Locatelli/Aouar): Ronaldo, Dybala, Chiesa. Dybala playing false 9 with Ronaldo cutting in from the left is about the best they can do with the squad they have. Eventually Ronaldo needs to leave and a direct, pacey winger brought in to replace him.
on the 18th February, 2021 at 10:15am
There is no clear direction when they buy a player. It's a scatter gun approach picking up whoever is available whether they're needed or not. The wages Juve pay are astronomical which makes moving players on extremely difficult so they end up stuck with depreciating assets that they eventually have to pay to leave. Pirlo is proving to be exactly what he is which is a novice coach. His formation doesn't make sense for the players they have in the squad and his style of play is slow and painful
on the 18th February, 2021 at 10:12am
The penalty was not a "Clear penalty" as stated in the article, it COULD have been a pen, but equally Ronaldo was already on the way down before the contact was made so it would have been soft and certainly Juve did not deserve a point from that game, they were appalling. The recruitment since the likes of Pogba, Vidal and Tevez left has been woeful. A few signings obviously have done well but the majority have been expensive and mediocre at best.
on the 18th February, 2021 at 10:07am
Just wanted to give a quick reminder that CR7 makes more on wages than Lautaro, Lukaku, Hakimi and Barella combined.

Imagine what a team you can buy for that money, but Agnelli wanted to be Hollywood.
on the 18th February, 2021 at 9:51am
There are so sooo many problems it’s hard to know where to begin. Pirlo? The football is terrible and tactically he looks to be out of ideas. The Players? Lots of average, disinterested players who give up when the going gets tough. The Board? Awful transfer policy of buying on the cheap and offering ageing players long contracts and big salaries. This is a failure of leadership, maybe it’s time Agnelli stepped aside since all of this is happening under his watch. Bad decision after bad decision
on the 18th February, 2021 at 9:51am
Just wanted to stop by and congratulate Juve on another defeat to a european giant.

1-2 vs Ajax-knocked out
0-1 vs Lyon knocked out
1-2 vs Porto-?

When CR7 signed in 2018, for 100 million euros at 34, making around 30 million euros net a season, having won 4 straight CL, should someone tell him and italian media these clubs will beat Juve in the first knockout round for 3 years straight, everyone would call it what it is.

A giant failure both in terms of sport and business.
on the 18th February, 2021 at 9:48am
"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" i think this is too much said..everyone makes mistakes, even football players..
on the 18th February, 2021 at 9:42am

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