Match Review Champions League

Juventus 2-2 Spurs Champions League Report

February 14, 2018 - 10:03 am

I managed a half, perhaps crooked smile when the draw was made for this tie. Not because I thought it was an easy glance in the right direction by Lady Luck, nor out of any particular eagerness to face Pocchetino and his vibrant, entertaining North London outfit. No…my droll reaction was due to the suspicion that a fair few juventini might find themselves badly surprised by the quality and ambitious nature of our would be foes.

My own opinion of the top tier of english football, which I have followed for the best part of three decades, is that the offering of present day is as wildly exciting as it is atrocious defensively. One leads to the other. It is by far the most strongly marketed football product on the planet, but rarely the finest football. Despite the latter judgement, there is a fair amount of world class talent to be found in the PL. Several of them at Spurs…For some time I have ear-marked three of their players who appear to clearly offer superior talent to their counterparts in our own squad – Eriksen, Kane and Dembele. None of whom we could now afford, other than perhaps the Belgian, who also happens to offer everything in one package that we miss in our midfield; poise, muscle, hustle, ability to dictate tempo, great feet, strength, stamina, superb defensive cover. He is a world class holding midfielder, and this position we have failed to strengthen in our squad year upon year upon year.


It is a pivotal role, and one which I assumed Allegri had spotted as a major strength and worked on a strategy to diffuse or disarm. To thwart Spurs you MUST mark Kane tightly, go toe to toe with Dembele and stop Eriksen picking up easy short passes with time on the ball in the middle of the park.

That is the game plan to stop Spurs. The bare minimum. Which we failed to address with our own tactics.

Max chose a two man midfield to combat arguably one of the strongest holding midfielders and highly accomplished ball players in the game. One of the two was Khedira, whose form has been at best sketchy all season, a player with poor stamina, no pace, a tendency to drift out of games so completely that he appears absent from the stadium. The other was a delicate as a butterfly flair merchant who has zero form for flourishing without mobile, protective hustle and muscle nearby. The result of this was that we lost the midfield battle from the start to finish of the game.

Dembele and Eriksen bossed the tie. They were rarely touched, never looked harried and were the best players on the night from either side. This was predictable.

The question is…could this have been avoided?

Before answering, I will add that whilst we played poorly, were tactically mismatched and not one player in black and white appeared near the top of his game, had Higuain taken one of his two simple spurned chances we would have won the game…There is the only silver lining from this abject display. We were so poor but still should have won. It is from this perspective where confidence can grow for the second leg. Yet back to the question posed above…

Dier sits deep for Spurs. Dembele roams more centrally and is happy to connect defence and attack as well as receive the ball in tight positions and fend off opponents with ease. Eriksen then finds positions to receive the ball from Dembele and set the fullbacks off on a scurry or seek out that serpent faced Ali or the HurriKane.

Clearly the central midfield area fight was one we had to win. Allegri decided to avoid this fight altogether, cede that area to the opponents without raising a fist in anger, and focus on the flanks and counter-attacking football. This worked well enough to create the 5 decent chances which came our way and Gonzalo should have won us the game, but in terms of the performance, the tactics were wrong and floundered poorly.

Why wasn’t Marchisio chosen to complete a three man midfield?

Why were Bentancur and Sturaro brought on as subs when neither has any match sharpness?

To put it simply, such is the strength of the Dembele anchored Spurs midfield, it was a huge risk playing with basically no central midfield (which is how the Khedira/Pjanic tandem manifested). This risk did not pay off. And had Spurs won the game we could have no complaints such was their dominance.


I have no idea as to why Marchisio was not starting nor brought on when the game was crying out for some experience and presence in central midfield coloured black and white.

Bentancur is still young. We were too kind to push Sturaro out in January and with Matuidi injured our squad and manager were shown to be a little less elite standard than some assume.

I do believe we could have countered the Spurs dominance in midfield by playing Il Principino, and chucking in Sturaro in place of Khedira. The German has been a passenger in more games than I care to recall, for too long and the sooner he is out the club the quicker we can progress. Or Bentancur could have slotted in at RCM, certainly more mobile and able to defend as well as distribute the ball intelligently. Yet he has barely featured of late…Likely to be loaned in the Summer I assume, and perhaps – as is my hope – we can bring in Mandragora, as he is demonstrating at Crotone everything we need in a DM.


Player Ratings


Made a decent save from a Kane close range header in the first half but certainly at fault for the Eriksen free-kick in the second. We expect better and such misjudgments add weight to the suspicion that time is finally catching up with the living legend.



Huffed, puffed, tackled, fought and won his fair share of free kicks. Kept Kane relatively well shackled other than for the goal, when the big man had committed himself and slipped in the middle of the park before Ali slid the ball through for the Spurs frontman to grab their first.



Still yet to convince he has the technique and concentration to prove a rock in a side aiming for top honours. Though much improved on last season, Mehdi remains prone to poor decision making, as was seen with his needless booking and to some degree with the Kane goal (though De Sciglio was also at fault). Physically more imposing than Rugani but far less useful on the ball, and given the departure of Leo, any calm distribution from the backline should be encouraged and nurtured not demoted.


De Sciglio

Made one sterling tackle in the box to deny a clear goal-scoring chance, other than which offered very little but tidy short passing and adequate covering. He provided zero potency going forward, sat too deep and too often – as with others- cleared the ball straight back to the visitors.



As with his counterpart on the right, the left-back made very little progress forward, was hemmed into his own rear third by marauding Aurier. Dealt well enough with the threats faced on his flank but failed to support the midfield and offence.



This is not a one-off. Big Sami has long been accustomed to showings of this anaemic nature in which we appear to be playing with 10. The German failed miserably to impose any presence in the vital midfield area, was feckless in screening the defence and was not once seen in the final third looking to support Higuain. Can he be blamed when his form suggests this is the norm? Other than against weak opponents, Sami has long looked well past his best. Most worrying and damaging of all is his ever worsening lack of pace. A terrible showing.



Mitigating circumstances aside, poor Miralem faded horridly after such a bright start with the smart free kick for Higuain’s opener. He has never had the physicality to impose himself on a game singlehandedly, relying on others to create the space for him to work in and to do the dirtier work of smashing heels and digging deep to ward off and break down opposing attacks. Not only did he fail to find the space, when he did find the ball he had nobody forward to pass to other than Higuain marked by 3 or 4. Ineffectual.



Nowhere near a LW or LM position for the majority of the game. Perhaps carrying an injury and if so, why the hell was he playing in such an important match? No goal scoring chances other than one tame header, offered solely defensive value when doubling up at LB. I admire his work ethic and his warrior zeal but his untouchable first XI berth is proving detrimental to this side, as is the case with Sami. Industry is of course required, vital even, but so is creativity, flair and pace. None of which Mario has in his boots, all of which are desired, if not essential, qualities for any offensive wide player. We must stop playing a forward in a defensive role.



A couple of comfortably saved efforts on goal aside, young Freddy continues to look like 45m very poorly spent. His game was unfortunately affected by the no-show of Khedira and lack of confidence shown by De Sciglio. In short, anything he attempted going forward had to be done alone. And it showed in his output.



Douglas looks a shadow of the powerful player he once was at Bayern. He has less confidence, less success when he does aim himself forward and hit launch and his demeanour is sullen. Perhaps it is the defensive shape of the side which irks him? Maybe Max has asked him to backtrack when his whole career has been focused on heading in the other direction? Maybe he simply doesn’t fit. What is for sure is that Mr Costa has not even yet approached a level of consistency expected of a certain Juan Cuadrado…and for those who know Juan well, they will understand what I mean by this.



Superb strike for the opener and took the first penalty with focus and power. However, he then missed a gilt edged chance to make it three from open play, and worse still, smashed his second penalty against the bar on the stroke of half time. This is a reminder of why so many do not place Gonzalo at the very top of the game. His reputation of bottling chances in big matches is nourished by such performances…

Granted, he was tasked with leading a lonely line, with our wingers unable to offer any support and the central midfield invisible, but the reason we paid so much for his services was because he was an assurance for goals. Which have come, with decent enough regularity, but not with the consistency one would demand of a truly world class striker.



Chose the wrong tactics, the wrong players, the wrong substitutions. His overly defensive press conference after the game belied any real confidence in the side or perhaps his own ability to get the best from this squad.



I have long suggested that the only positive to take from our haphazard form this season is that we have continued to succeed, stay in the running in all competitions, despite reaching nowhere near top gear. The hope was that Max had some plan underway, and he was conditioning the squad as is his bent, to seek optimum sharpness and momentum from February onwards.

I do not believe this to be the case. There is no set formation in place. No system which brings out the best of our strongest players. There has been no lengthy run of games where we have played well as a team. Many of our victories have come from individual not collective brilliance. We are stronger than most opponents, not playing better football.

 For three of the four major signings to have failed to make any meaningful, ongoing impact, when all four were ear-marked for the first XI is a worrying sign. It can happen. Sometimes players simply do not fit a new club, a new city and culture. We have been very fortunate with most of the signings made during Agnelli’s tenure. Far more success than failure. Yet this may be the season where we have to accept we made some mistakes.


I should mention that last night we were missing Dybala and Cuadrado (as well as Matuidi) and had Barzagli been fit he would have offered more assurance at the back than Benatia. Who for me should be the one to step aside when Caldara comes in next term. Strong against weak teams, less so when facing the established or elite. And I am a greater fan of Rugani, who seems unable to earn the confidence of Il Mister, and I cannot quite understand as to why, especially given his composure on the ball which the other CBs lack. No obvious flurry of errors or awful showings, yet Benatia has the nod. Who is physically more imposing, but to my mind, less useful on the ball. He is a bruiser more than a cultured footballer. Building for the future should begin with Daniele in the first XI.

Yes yes! We could and should have won with Higuain’s chances. And we of course have a decent chance of winning in London, but we must look upon this season with open eyes and calm heads and hearts. It is one of transition.

Losing Bonucci was a massive blow to the side. His ability to play the ball out of defence, at his feet or through his long passing was a steady, vital part of our success. Add in the unfortunate Howedes debacle, injuries to key players and veterans ever more creaking as they reach the swan-song of their glittering careers and the situation becomes easier to understand.

We have no settled first XI. A system which changes too often and has been proven a failure in coaxing from our most expensive signings anywhere near the blistering form shown for their previous clubs.

Had we lost to Spurs, no honest fan could say they were unworthy winners. They bossed the game for the vast majority, made many more attempts going forward, hunted in packs, showed brilliant energy, belief and determination. Every one of their players made his presence felt. I cannot say the same of our flock in black and white. Too many weak showings, too many shrinking violets. No leadership, no menace, no bite.


There is a lot of work to be done if we are to move from a spiral of decline (or at best stagnation) towards progress. This team is not the finished article. Too many parts do not fit together. There needs to be a renovation in the Summer. Beginning with a holding midfielder in the Dembele mould. It is amusing to find Dar black as seemingly the sole company in concert with me over the years as I have ranted of the importance of an anchor man, of a pivot of strength and guile. Amusing because we are both rather long in the fang…They may not be the most exciting players, but they are of incredible importance. A side’s whole offensive and defensive strategy, its very balance, can be built on this one player who anchors the side, screens the defence, assists the attack, holds when required, gives and goes, ventures into dangerous positions. Dembele made 6 dribbles from deep last night…Pjanic and Khedira combined made 1.

Matuidi is not that player. He is not particularly creative, nor able to dictate tempo…A fit Marchisio could do the job, as he has done competently in the past, but we must assume Allegri does not trust him or his body.

It was disheartening to see us pull ten men behind the ball, when 2-0 up, at home in the last 16 of the champions league when playing any side, let alone Spurs. To watch us work hard to win the ball back in our own area then hoof it straight back to the visitors time and time again was indicative of a team lacking confidence and ideas.

Fail to win at Wembley and we can concentrate on the domestic double, though pressure for Max to depart will grow. Some would say rightly so.

I suspect that Costa and Bernardeschi will come good at some stage, hopefully in our colours, but not unless they are unleashed to do what they do best ; ATTACK. And are well supported in their endeavour.

This result and performance is not the end of the world, moreover a glum wake-up call to supporters who seem to believe we have a god given right to reach the champions league final every season. Its the toughest club competition on the planet and to have reached two finals in three years is a remarkable achievement. A period of adjustment was always going to come and now we must face the fact that our quest for silverware might dim a little as the squad moves through a transition which will hopefully lead next season or thereafter, to a settled squad built on the collective, with the potential to win at the highest level.

forza juve

(find me on twitter here)

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  • Avatar
    Dar Black February 14, 2018 at 11:24 am

    Well well… I am away with work this week in Liverpool. I have no satellite tv in my hotel room, and neither does my aging unsmart smartphone want to connect to the hotel wifi. So I waited and waited to see the result last night on the regular tv news. A remarkable performance by Spurs the TV presenter said. My heart sank, before hearing it was a 2-2 draw. But that relief was short lived as I heard more details: “Spurs dominated Juve, Spurs should have one, far more possession, Juve blew their chances, Juve shell shocked” and on it goes. The english press are gushing over Spurs performance, and not holding back on their criticism of Juve and their players performance – putting the boot in to Juve and Italian football. This morning reading the free hotel newspapers compounded the TV coverage with even more damning reviews of our performance.

    I have only seen the goals at the moment, and to be fair to GiGi that wall for Spurs 2nd was pathetic. Erikssen did not thunder the ball in to the net, it looked like it dribbled in along the floor through a hole in the wall big enough to drive a car through.

    Even at 2-1 up we would still have had a match of our lives on at Wembley, as one more goal would see them through. Perhaps it is best that a draw was the final result, as it forces us to (against our usual nature) attack them and score. If we can’t do that, and can’t beat Spurs we would never deserve to win the comptition this year anyway. And I have to say I don’t fancy living with another final defeat, being drubbed in the final to Madrid is bad enough, but to Man City it would hurt A LOT. I am still coming to terms with the hurt of last year, and how many of us want to hear that talk about the most losses in finals etc etc again so soon? No, me neither. We have a massive game in the 2nd leg. If we can’t beat Spurs we would never win it anyway, and it’s better to lose in the 4th round and people will forget it than lose in the final again.

    Beating SPAL, Crotone etc means nothing, and Juve racking up big defensive stats against teams like that fools too many people into thinking we are better than we are. We don’t put teams to the sword often enough, and we need to play to our best against Spurs or we will lose – maybe even badly. I hope the team selection is up to it. No Max, don’t play Sami K. He only turns up against SPAL and Crotone etc. Seeing his name on the starting lineup this morning in the game analysis did make me angry, why not Marchisio Max? For f*cks sake learn your lesson Max.

    The second leg is a match for the best we have, the winners.

    • Avatar
      E.Micallef February 14, 2018 at 11:34 am

      We drew against bayern two years ago and we were dominated on home soil. Tottenham have no defence. Again against Bayern we gutted them for 70 min and only that fu… Evra clearance stood in the way. We will go through. We will.

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet February 14, 2018 at 12:04 pm

      The strange thing for me, mate is that I actually started believing in the words of others…My banging on about how Dembele was going to truly enjoy himself suddenly seemed perhaps a little overzealous, a little too cynical, because of course Max would have seen the basic workings of the Spurs system. Within ten minutes of the game however, I realised that Max had not understood how Spurs play. Dembele and Eriksen bossed the game…truly.

      I would not call the performance by Spurs remarkable. They played against a Juve side with no central midfield. And our wingers doubled up as fullbacks for most the game. The traffic really was one way for at least half the game. Literally giving the ball back to them and waiting to defend again and again. It was horrible to watch. We toughened up a little in the second whilst creating very little.

      I see the potential of all the players at Juve as higher than that of Spurs, but Spurs are a better side. Much more enjoyable to watch, full of belief and drive. With a very likeable manager.

      Enjoy your time in Scouse Town, comrade…

      • Avatar
        Dar Black February 14, 2018 at 1:27 pm

        I like Potto the manager too. Nice guy, and always fun with Argentines calling them Tottingham Hotspurs… Liverpool is bizarre. They think fish is a vegetarian option 😉 Oh, forgot to say I am getting p*ssed off with Fred Berni’s OTT foul antics in penalty box.

        • thegutterpoet
          thegutterpoet February 14, 2018 at 11:10 pm

          He has not yet managed to reach anywhere near his Florence form. I am also not too taken yet with his attitude. As Rav touched upon higher up…the attitude of the side as a whole is not great.

          I read comments of warrior spirit, or a return to fighting for your lives of Roman times and I understand and agree…we lack leaders, we lack players with berserker zeal. It could be the complacency which comes from so much success, though I suspect it is also, perhaps moreso, rooted in the failure of our recruitment policy to identify the right attitude alongside the right talent.

          • Avatar
            Sebastián Quiceno February 14, 2018 at 11:12 pm

            True the whole weight doesn´t fall solely on the coach.

  • Avatar
    E.Micallef February 14, 2018 at 11:25 am

    Jesus christ than if we all played with rating 6 we would have buried Tottenham 7 0. Jesus we are in champions league not in coppa dei fiori. I suspect Tottenham plays attacking football with all the team going forward and now we know and away they play like home.we ll see in the return. We ll have some players back. Wee will see. But we will score at least 2 away if not more at Wembley. We still have 70 per cent of chance to go forward.

  • Avatar
    Jack Handey February 14, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    I still think we have a very good chance of advancing once Matuidi and Dybala return. Tottenham is perhaps 60-40 favorite.

    The minute Khedira leaves this team, we’ll improve dramatically, unless Sturaro is his replacement. Bentancur is a player we should be giving more chances to, but he has hardly gotten any playing time since the first 2 or 3 games. Give the kid a chance. Marchisio would be perfect alongside Pjanic or as his #2.

  • Avatar
    ho Hi February 14, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    How the fuck can u dare to write loan out Benta in summer?!?!
    Are you nuts?

    First things First:
    Khedira fuck off.
    Sandro too.
    Marchisio in. All season long.

    Damn it….

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet February 14, 2018 at 10:44 pm

      I have no desire to insult you, despite your vociferous outburst and to be fair I am more amused than insulted…Bentancur has barely played this season. Approximately 30 minutes of competitive football in 2018. Not much before then in the first half of the season…and whilst he has appeared a good prospect in the very short time afforded on the field, he clearly has not demonstrated to Max (or myself!) that he is ready to provide the kind of performances required at this level.

      For these reasons, it seems logical that we will send him out to gain the experience we are not able to offer him at Juve presently. Still a decent prospect, but has not been given enough chances or has not made the most of the chances offered.

      Without any doubt I would prefer to see Mandragora in the squad. He has proven a mainstay in the Crotone side and is the main reason as to why they have any chance of staying up. He also represents the kind of player we desperately lack – a regista/DM/holding midfielder.

      I have long followed Bentancur, long highlighted him as a future star and remain confident he will progress into someone worthy of a chance at our first team squad. The truth of the matter is that this has not happened this term. Too soon for him, too much disarray with our tactics, too much reliance on others from Max.

      • Avatar
        ho Hi February 15, 2018 at 9:34 am

        Hi tgp,
        maybe I was a bit rough,but maybe Juve should focus on their youngsters,and not loan here and there,you know what I mean.
        I guess many bianconeris care about scudetto 10 times a row,but I would love to see our young lads, in important games,this is how they can learn,develop. And I think Bentacur is on a good way.
        And please Max was wrong with the tactic against Tot. Khedira is shit for months,so is Mandzu.
        I dont know whats wrong there.
        But like the previous years,one perfect cl season,one bad.So this time its a bad one.

        NO,no loans on youngsters who can show that they are capable of juve level,and whats that? To lead serie a with 15 points,get the double again and again. I think thats not excited. Thank God Napoli is great these days,they deserves it!!

        For example,Alex Sandro,I dont know where his head is these months. But its a different Sandro. Yesterday reals Marcelo had a perfect game,I hope that Sandro saw it. And realizes he should be on that level too.

        And Mandragora is capable of Juve? Why cause hes italian? Good at Crotone?
        Benta had a great game against barca. Problem all over Juve is.
        Dont trust the talented young lads,its disgusting.
        A real shame.
        Im a very much Rugani fan,nothing against Mehdi,but why so rare Rugani ? Or I dont get the CM thing,whats wrong there?

        I hope that there will be a loss against Torino on Sunday. Juve should only focus on 7th march.
        FFS the coppa means nothing. Lets give this to Bergamo.
        And lets give for one year the Scudetto to Napoli,is that so bad?
        To be second?

        And maybe CL will be fine with this season. Or we only need a change. Yes that means forever Gigi is done….
        That second goal on tuesday was a laughable one.

        Well we all love Juve,but Juve has to change some things. Otherwise it will be other time. You dont get Porto every year in Cl,righty??

        I hope youre fine,

        • thegutterpoet
          thegutterpoet February 15, 2018 at 11:08 am

          Ah Phil my friend! Worry less…I am well thank you…recovering from a hideous virus collected in my recent visit to the motherland, irritated by the return of neck pain after jumping back on my two wheeled devil steed and missing my pixie queen and her devil progeny, other than which all is well.

          I also like the idea of giving youth a chance, but only when it is viable and required. Bentancur’s positions are closest to a mezzalla…he is in direct competition with Matuidi ( stronger, vastly more experienced) and Khedira (who Max has a fetish for). The reason I suggested Mandragora is not due to his nationality, though its welcome to see italians playing for Juve as we are an italian team and this matters to me. The reason is that he has been exceptional for the Italy U21s for a fair while, and outstanding for Crotone this season. At 20 years of age he is more than holding his own, and whilst its unfair to say Bentancur has been given the same opportunities, it is clear that Rolando has done a lot more to prove he is ready for Serie A.

          We do have a fair few young players…Dybala, Bentancur, Mandragora, Caldara, Rugani and we shall see what happens with Caligara, Clemenza and Kean. There are others coming through, unfortunately though, given the demands at Juve we cannot afford to blood them in during our official campaigns, which is why loans are so important. We need a player ready to step in and perform, not learn on the job. The question which follows is…If we believe a player HAs the talent, only through playing him will he gain sharpness and cohesion and confidence in the squad and show his potential. Its a hard juggling act and presently I am leaning towards Max losing confidence in the squad hence his ultra defensive approach to game management. And continued selection of experience over youthful exuberance.

          • Avatar
            ho Hi February 15, 2018 at 7:52 pm

            Yes back again in the best part of the season,mate.
            I hope youre fine down there in the land of some great films nobody knows.

            Anyway back to Signora.
            Good youre back on track.
            As you know Emre Can will be a Juve player very soon. And yes youre right,does that mean Benta on loan to Atalanta?
            Could be possible?

            Of course its the best thing to have italians in Torino.
            I still love the team of 2003, that was a good mixture.
            Fingers crossed Mandra comes back in summer.
            Cant wait to see Caldara!!
            Whats the Situation with Kastanos,cant remember the full name,but saw some impressive stuff during that City to City Challenge in summer.

            I understand your point.
            Do you think that Beppe/ Fabio try to get MS from Lazio?
            Could he be Nedved2.0?

            Now lets cross the fingers for Napoli.
            I know not good blood between us and them,but its an italian team.

            C U

  • Avatar
    JuveAllDay February 14, 2018 at 6:42 pm

    I completely agree with the idea that our most important need is that of a world class holding midfielder! The frustrating parts of the match for me were the missed chances, and the fact that we couldn’t clear our own end frequently enough. That said, I feel that we had more clear cut chances on goal especially when considering the 2 penalties. Fascinating, although frustrating match. The scoreline could have been drastically different in either direction. Tottenham certainly had most of the possession and outplayed us for the most part, but we could have fairly easily scored 4 goals or so. If we could have come out with even a 1 goal victory, I would feel that Juve would have a 65-35 opportunity to win the 2 legs. For me it’s PL media bias when I have to hear about total annihilation in every article I read following a draw that was more likely to see a Juve victory than one for Tottenham, despite “the run of play.” This is not to say that I don’t think Tottenham played a strong match, especially in our stadium. I don’t see Juve as favorites after yesterday’s match, but I still think the side are perfectly capable of pulling this out with the right mentality in the return. Many valid points in the article and our overall level has not been what most of us would have hoped thus far in the season, but I am still not of as negative of a perspective as I found the analysis. Too harsh on Costa and Benatia in particular. I must admit that I can’t fathom why Khedira is a staple in the first XI. I would prefer Marchisio over and over again. Betancur too if Marchisio is really not physically able. Thank you to the writers on this site, as I love to be able to login and read about Juventus and hear from likeminded fans easily from the States

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet February 15, 2018 at 3:14 am

      Appreciate the comments, mate!

      What explanations can you offer for the massive difference in the Juve Costa to the Munich Costa? Is it that their system was much more offensive? Or simply that they had considerably more talented players?

      I am not keen on Benatia. He is a decent player but we need more in that role, especially in absence of a proper DM/regista. We create barely nothing from the back, the ball is channeled invariably to our flanks or Pjanic, so cut them off and we just keep flinging the ball forward. We are that simple to close down unfortunately. The value of a player like Big Leo was that he could bring the ball out of defence, demand players run to tackle him and he could also pick a pass…benatia has none of that ability and it hurts us.

      • Avatar
        JuveAllDay February 17, 2018 at 12:20 am

        I agree that we need a distributor further back, but I feel that should be able to be more easily achieved by purchasing a proper DM. My personal feeling is that Benatia is capable of playing on a world class team despite not being a perfect player. Side note that is a little off topic, in our set up Leo was at his best and was a strong distributor from the back, but I never understood the view that we was a top 2 centre back in the world. I always felt that he made far too many misjudgments in the defensive phase of the game for praise that lofty. Regarding Costa, I have actually felt that he often looks very dangerous when he has been fit and offered opportunities. I do think that Bayern’s tactics allowed him more freedom moving forward, whereas Juve often seem to leave our attacking players stranded once we obtain a lead.

  • Avatar
    B1anconer0 February 14, 2018 at 8:10 pm

    Juve played really awful, and what I hate most is that they looked so lazy. For the first time I’m starting to question allegri. I mean why would he change formation again + starting khedira every time has got to stop. What i disliked the most is that after the game he was saying that Juve fans can’t expect to have won this game 3-0 and that Psg madrid barca and real are on another level. No they are not ! Juve played 2 finals in 3 years so how the hell can he say that?! Juve are among the best in the world and the last person i want to hear saying otherwise is the coach. And i don’t get him saying that only winning is important and that it doesn’t matter if juve play attracting football or not. Yes it does, Juve have the players to play attracting football while winning.

    I want to see that winning mentality in the return leg and that every player will bleed for this shirt and that the coach starts using a default formation. Otherwise he can go. This, what happened yesterday + playing bad football most games is just too much.

    And another thing, mandzukic on the left in the CL just doesn’t work. I hope to see a 3man mid of matuidi pjanic and marchisio. We need a world class mid in the summer. Khedira and sturaro have to go ..

  • Avatar
    Moderator February 14, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    20 years i’ve been watching this team, and i’ve never felt more disconnected from the Champions League as i have this season. What happened in May has tempered my feelings towards the competition in a big way and it’s now just another trophy we’re working towards, it’s far from the obsession that a lot of other Juventini have made it out to be. If we don’t win it this year, there’ll be the next or the next, or the next.

    As for the game itself, how on earth can you expect to play against a team like Spurs without a midfield? Khedira is a player that works best against Chievo, Sassuolo, SPAL etc – thats his level. If we’re going to mix it up with the likes of Real, Barca, even PSG, how can we expect to compete when our best central midfielder is Miralem Pjanic, who only works at his absolute best with a man to either side of him? Every season, we address a particular area of the pitch and turn a blind eye to the most pressing positions that need addressing – The closest we have been to complete was 2015, and even then we didn;t have a world class left back. Last season and this, we;ve lacked that real quality in the centre.

    We started so well and then for some bizarre reason, we thought we were playing against Crotone and that it was ok to let them have the ball and dictate things. Absolute lunacy. the blame lies with Allegri but also every player out there who failed to capitalise on a huge early advantage.

    Something is wrong in these players heads – it’s a psychological thing – they don’t feel they’re worthy of being in the CL, or they feel inferior…..god knows what it is, but i wish they’d address it – why do we always have to do it the hard way? I don;t hold out much hope of getting anything in London, even with Matuidi and Dybala back in the team. We don;t have the right attitude. Even if we score, we’ll sit back and let them play and hope to nick a goal on the counter.

    Sad thing is, i’m not bothered if we drop out of the CL this season. The league is, and has always been, more of a pull for me. The derbies and the rivalries in serie A are more entertaining.

    Anyway, this is not our year. Call me a cynic, but there have been too many finals, too much talk of the CL being a priority, and not enough to back that up on the pitch. Thankfully, i’m not here for the trophies. Whatever happens, this is my team, good or bad. Roll on the Derby della Mole.

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      Sebastián Quiceno February 14, 2018 at 11:07 pm

      Rav. Boss I have an idea.

      Would you be willing to conduct a survey about which coach people back both for Juve and for Italy for next campaign]?

      Maybe conduct it by the end of the campaign out of respect for Max who ultimately is a human being and has provided 3 scudettos so far. That we can have an idea how much backing he has after 4 years?

      Perhaps both you and TGP based on your vast knowledge and experience on Italy and Juve could suggest your own view on the most realistic and fitting leads

      • thegutterpoet
        thegutterpoet February 14, 2018 at 11:18 pm

        I suspect that Max has more pressing matters, Seb than to peruse juvefc or any other fansite…and we can discuss the matter now. It certainly interests me. As I was pondering last night when writing the report…Which other manager would I be happy with?

        At first I thought Ancelotti. Though he may be heading back to London.
        Then Laurent Blanc and Deschamps came to mind. yet have they really proven anything significant as managers?
        No chance we could get Simeone and I wouldn’t want him anyway, as I can never forgive him for getting Beckham sent off in such an undignified manner many moons ago.
        I wouldnt want Conte back. He has not grown at all as a manager in England, same moaning, same one trick pony routine, same disrespect for the club.
        A few years back I would have said Jose but he has by now gone way too far down the road of ignominy. And also, his standing in the game with players has lessened.

        Who else is out there?

        Simone Inzaghi is doing a fine job in Rome…
        Giampaolo also blossoming in Genoa.

        Zidane? Great first season but then what? With probably the strongest squad on earth…

        I cannot see anyone particularly impressive in England. And do not follow with any real zeal the German, Spanish or French leagues.

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          Sebastián Quiceno February 14, 2018 at 11:22 pm

          Yes I agree there are not that many options.

          What is your opinion of Zidane? it seems they want to kick him out of Madrid to prove a point Florentino is the Messiah of football management.

          I wish Lippi would undergo some gene therapy to rejuvenate him to his 40s and add 50 years to his life or something.

          • thegutterpoet
            thegutterpoet February 14, 2018 at 11:31 pm

            Loved him as a player, Seb, regardless of when he left us. Found his headbutt superb and a fitting end to a man who played by his rules, who blazed his own trail. And as for his managerial credentials…I am aware he cut his teeth as manager of the RM B team after working under Ancelotti with the seniors. It takes more than simply picking the team to be a success and his first season or so at RM was staggering in silverware won. Since then however, there appears to have been a drop. Is this down to a natural transition of the squad, a dip before new signing bed in and prosper? Or due to the fact that it was a core of super talented players at the very top of their game in earlier seasons who have now grown a little older or lost their drive?

            I do not watch enough La Liga football to have anything but a questioning stance. Do you or any others follow Real?

            The most talented coach in Italy is Sarri. Yet he will never coach Juve. He doesnt have the character, the self respect or the humility. It wouldnt surprise me to see him never leave Italy. Not sure how his behaviour would suit bugger clubs who focus as much on behaviour off the field as on it. Yet then again look at United…I would never have thought they would employ someone like Jose during the Ferguson era. But now, with the US owners, all the money involved, their historical values have given way to financial acumen. Still, I know a fair few United supporters who despise him, and have lost love for the club precisely because of his employment at the club.

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            Sebastián Quiceno February 14, 2018 at 11:37 pm

            I don´t know pal it seems only time will tell. The easiest thing would be if Max were more open minded and willing to learn from his mistakes. The thing is all coaches are hard as a diamond in a bad way. Old foxes who never learn.

          • thegutterpoet
            thegutterpoet February 14, 2018 at 11:45 pm

            We are playing far too defensively, even when we start with two very offensive wide players and an out and out centre forward, we still ask them to come back to defend. This invites the opponents onto us. Happens too often to be called an anomaly. It must be by design.

            Mandzukic isn’t appearing at LB for the fun of it nor out of instinct. Costa and Bernardeschi were not sitting so terribly deep out of fear. These were instructions, whatever Max said after the game…I have seen these players perform brilliantly as very offensive wide men. They do not suddenly become meek and mild and hiding away at the back. This is by direction. That direction comes from Max. Nowhere else.

            I do feel that he is reaching the end of his tenure at the club. He has been exceptional and will go down as a superb manager of the club, but for us to progress, which is all any fan ever wishes, we may well need to find a manager with a little more bravery and drive.

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            Sebastián Quiceno February 14, 2018 at 11:49 pm

            Analyzing just that which you are saying can take a long time with vodka in hand but Ill try and be brief.

            Our passiveness stems from the fact our players are too old to either press high, or press in hoardes.

            Also our phalanx approach of all for one one for all is mistaken by the players as, oh well if I don´t get there in time for doing the press someone else will

            Also they think, oh well since we NEVER press high there´s usually never space at the back for opposition to profit so we are cool at the back. Thing is in this decade all teams have learned to siege to attack a parked bus

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        Moderator February 15, 2018 at 8:29 am

        Would gladly add that Seb, in due course. It would interesting to gauge the feeling of Juventini as well as and see how they view the season.

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        Moderator February 15, 2018 at 11:52 am

        Seb – You’re probably smart enough to stay away from Twitter…..but i asked people to see how they felt about Max and his immediate future – This is how it looks at present:

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet February 15, 2018 at 3:09 am

      Well put, comrade…And I agree with the point about responsibility lying with Allegri. These players go into their shell either due to his direction and ‘match management’ or due to lack of confidence instilled by the management and coaches.

      My words of last night may seem a little negative, but it is a reflection of the absence of joy gleaned from watching us this season. I honestly cannot remember 2-3 games on the trot where we played good football. The victories have felt generally mechanical, with little passion other than relief on occasion! Relief as the strongest emotion of a Juve side is not normal, it smacks of fear.

      Where does this fear originate?

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        Moderator February 15, 2018 at 8:29 am

        perhaps we’ve had it drilled into us that the league is the most important thing? some of the things that are said publicly are downright bizarre – Marotta constantly saying players can leave when they like – surely that can’t be a good thing for the players or the squad as a whole? I’m at a loss to explain our European performances at times. We lack the consistency needed.

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          Jack Handey February 16, 2018 at 4:02 am

          I’m starting to resent the famous Bonaperti line “Winning at Juventus is not important, it is the only thing that counts”. I think part of the problem with Juve is that the team is built to win and not worry about performance or aesthetics. Too often, we have played ugly and won. The post-match narratives usually focus on the fact that we won, not on our poor performance or that we perhaps didn’t deserve to win. If we had won today’s game despite being thoroughly dominated by Spurs, everyone would be singing Juve’s praises for their winning attitude and culture. Instead the game ended in an unflattering tie and all of the teams deficiencies are being the subject of focus.

          There are many teams out there where performance and aesthetics matter as much as winning. Barca are an obvious example. We are more like Atletico. Our goal is to be defensively solid and win. I would have been fine with that when the quality of our offensive players was poor, but we have a lot of world-class players right now and we should be playing enjoyable+winning football. Max has to find a way to do that.

          I’ve always been a supporter of Max and he has really done well with this team in Champions League both in terms of performance and results the last three years. I like his calm temperament and professionalism, which are a welcome change from the melodramatic Conte era. I trust he’ll recognize the discontent in the fanbase and find a way to put a winning and enjoyable display on the pitch.

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            Jack Handey February 16, 2018 at 4:08 am

            I for one don’t care much about the league. Let Napoli win and celebrate an extraordinary feat which has become quite ordinary for us. Napoli fans would be 1000x happier with a win than us entitled Juve fans would be. Let them enjoy a once-in-a-generation moment.

            We really need to make our mark in Champions League and Juve have to always aim to compete with the best. We should make reaching the last 8 a minimum requirement each year.

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            Moderator February 16, 2018 at 9:34 am

            I understand that to an extent, but when i hear the entire league up in arms about some 50/50 decision that went Juve’s way while they ignore every other side that has benefited from poor refereeing, my first feeling is ‘i hope we win the league for another 10 years to come’ – The rivalry in Serie A is still just as fierce, and while the CL is what this squad was built for, the league can never be replaced for me, in terms of a priority.

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            Jack Handey February 17, 2018 at 11:42 pm

            I hear you, Mod. I think part of the difference of what you and I prioritize may be geography. If you are in Italy or have lived in Italy long enough to value the Serie A rivalries greatly, the league takes on a larger importance than it would for those of us looking from afar (the US in my case). I’ve followed Juve faithfully for 12 years when everyone else around here either doesn’t care about soccer, and if they do they only care about EPL. So, Juve making noise in the Champions League takes on greater importance for people like me.

          • thegutterpoet
            thegutterpoet February 16, 2018 at 10:31 am

            Well put, Jack…I do believe that Max sees the league as our staple diet. Last 16 of the CL is the minimum aim for Europe and he has exceeded this twice already whilst maintaining domestic dominance in both league and the coppa.

            As Rav sometimes mentions and usually I find it hard to agree – the club policy of openly stating that any player who wishes to leave can leave may well be hurting us more than I allow myself to see clearly. The turnover is not huge, but it is there and it has caused some form of bother every Summer for many years now. Which hasn’t mattered when we are storming to huge leads in Serie A and carving a path to CL finals, but this year perhaps this policy is starting to catch up with us.

            I am unsure as the reason for Sandro’s staggering change in form but suspect it has something to do with matters off the field, either personal or involving another club. I don’t trust Beppe 100%!

            The manner in which Big Leo left cast a bad shadow over the club as did some of the nonsense spoken by that wretched Alves goblin. I believe that some of this has lingered not just without but within the squad. They feel somehow soiled.

            Whilst on the topic of Bonucci…the lack of appreciation of his value to the side, as a piece of capital, demonstrated by no obvious attempt to remedy the huge deficit in distribution from the back created by his departure, is the first episode of Allegri which I could not agree with, reason out as for the best of the team or accept without major questions appearing in my mind. If he had to go, okay, he was to be sold. Yet to fail to address the result on our style, on our ability to connect defence and attack, was tantamount to incompetence. Or hubris.

            It is one of the two.

            The line of thinking cannot have been ‘who cares if we lose the ability to bring the ball out from deep or launch quality long balls from the same area for we have new wide men and they will take up the slack’ because those two expensive wide men have been so sparingly used this season one would think they were made of eggshells…

            I remain an ardent fan of Allegri. Though do believe some major mistakes have been made this last 12 months…It is how he responds that will cement his legacy at the club.

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            Jack Handey February 18, 2018 at 12:01 am

            I agree with you on most points, gutter. I honestly think we have gotten over Bonucci with Benatia’s resurgence after a rough start. We still miss his range of passing, but we seem more robust defensively with Benatia. It is the midfield (Khedira in particular) that has been handicapping us much as it in the CL final last year. Pjanic is also much less effective when we are pinned back.

            Juve’s “open-door” policy has perhaps helped with recruiting free agents, but we do indeed need to take a harder stand on indispensable players like Dybala.

            I too trust Allegri to lead us forward. From the Juventus Netflix documentary, I was surprised to learn he is already the 3rd winningest coach in Juventus history in just over three years. He could really be a Juve legend if he hangs around long enough.

            Name Nat. P W D L GF GA %W
            Giovanni Trapattoni 596 319 181 96 969 478 53.52
            Marcello Lippi 405 227 104 74 712 383 56.05
            Massimiliano Allegri 197 139 32 26 377 136 70.56
            Carlo Parola 202 117 38 47 400 219 57.92
            Carlo Carcano Italy 161 111 27 23 387 165 68.94
            Antonio Conte Italy 151 102 34 15 280 101 67.55

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    Sebastián Quiceno February 14, 2018 at 10:13 pm

    Quite good analysis from TGP. I agree 100% the obvious choice was to start marchisio, and if he didn´t start then introduce him at some point between min 10 and 95.

    Also I think Max didn´t attend the J Academy lesson about the phrase: “Vincere non è importante, ma è l’unica cosa che conta” It seems somewhere lost in translation he learned “Vincere 1-0 non è importante, ma è l’unica cosa che conta”. In his eyes either we win 1-0 or we just can´t win, even if already at a score advantage he will find a way to shoot himself on the foot.

    Remember the Bayern game when the tie was ours and he subbed Morata to bring in Sturaro? that says it all for me. Even if we manage to reach the UCL final again, if we don´t win it Max has to go.

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    Jura Perković February 15, 2018 at 12:39 am

    First of all, I enjoyed reading a discussion this fruitful, and Thegutterpoet thanks for writing such an in dept, well written article.
    From what I have watched this season, and red on juvefc, I concluded that it isn’t a particular positions, it isn’t particular players fault, nor is there such a tactical failure being present.
    I think that the main problem is Fear.
    It seems that the team and the manager are very pressured by “we have to win everything” slogan. It is ok to lose. You grow as a team when you lose. And when Juventus loses, fans start to attack, media starts to attack.. everything is black, nothing is white.
    A team that thinks they must win everything all the time won’t be able to accept their mistakes. They won’t be able to lose and not feel like it’s the end of the fucking world (sorry for using ****, some emotions came up).
    The pressure of not making a mistake is to high.
    If Allegri and co. don’t figure out that soon, we will crash as we did in the finals of the CL (that we reeeeally thought was ours????).

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    BartWos February 15, 2018 at 2:32 am

    And what’s funny
    many of my Juve friends-fans still consider Max as the best coach (in the sense that there is no one to change him), and the quality of the team is enough to fight in the Champions League… Yes, we definitely need more free bites like Can or who is there now for free or in in low installments.
    The fall after the second defeat of the Champions League final continues.

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    Moderator February 15, 2018 at 8:39 am

    Perhaps i’m in the minority, but i don’t think the blame lies totally at Allegri’s feet. Take the Spurs game as an example – What more could he have done from the start with the exception of starting Marchisio over Costa and playing 4-3-3? I’m not entirely sure that Principino is 100%, as we saw in the trip to Florence. Sturaro starting would have been a disaster, and Benatancur is simply not up to the grade yet. Once the players are out there on the pitch, it’s up to them to read the game and exploit the weaknesses in their opposition – Spurs were there for the taking, you could see they struggled to cope with Costa’s pace and Higuain’s movement – Why on earth did they suddenly elect to give Spurs so much possession? Was that at Max’s instruction? I can;t see that being the case. They took the approach that at 2-0 the game was secure because they underestimated the opposition.

    I’m loathe to make the comparison, but look at Liverpool last night – They tore Porto to shreds by applying constant pressure throughout – they weren’t focused on holding on to a 2-0 lead, they wanted to win the tie there and then. And they have. Of course, it’s like comparing apples and oranges, but at the heart of it is the teams inability to go in for the kill. They had Costa, Bernardeschi, Mandzukic and Higuain on the pitch at the same time, and two of those players were more occupied with defending. Absolutely absurd – Perhaps with that element of the game, the blame lies with Max, but he isn;t the one on the pitch. Those players are at fault for 70% of what transpired on Tuesday, and it’s those players that will have to try and make amends in very difficult circumstances in a few weeks time.

    For what it’s worth, i am firmly behind Allegri. I still think he is the right man for us. There are very few better out there, it’s a shame many fans are preoccupied with the current flavour of the month, be it inzaghi or other, and see these inexperienced coaches as the remedy for our European woes.

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet February 15, 2018 at 11:00 am

      I remain in full support of Max, mate, but I do believe that the demand to track back and to sit back when we have a lead to conserve energy comes from his direction. The more he worries of losing a lead the more he seems to tend the side towards clamming up after a goal or two and defending deep. I have seen quotes of Max referring to game management. It is not something I often see other managers of top teams broach…If players were deciding to stay in the own half without his direction they would not be regularly chosen to play. I can not see any other explanation. Especially when it comes to players whose careers up until Juve have been built on very offensive roles…

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      Dar Black February 17, 2018 at 3:43 pm

      I still support Allegri, but I am coming to this conclusion: there are three types of manager styles, one who is too cautious and never wins anything, one who is too cavalier and never wins much (Klopp), and one who is a balance of both and wins the most (Mourinho). Max is trying to be like this third option, but tends to fall too often to being too cautious. I hope he can steer himself away from that.

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        Ali Al-Mawla February 18, 2018 at 9:53 am

        Probably the best description of Max and manager categories ive seen in a while, great comment mate.

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    Mixalis Neskis February 15, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    Great article TGP. I agree with you ratings but find the evaluation of the general performance of the new signings a bit too harsh. What would you expect from a professional who is not allowed to work and when given the chance he is told to do something against his nature? To bring things into perspective: What would happen to your abillity to write, if someone where to tell you, “well TGP for the next 6 months the only thing you are allowed to write, is your name” and then one day they come to you and say, well now we need you, please write something about “name the Star you do not give a damn about” new haircut. How good an article would that be?
    Is the same thing with Berna. You cannot have a Trequartista play 45 minutes in 6 months , then decide he should start every game but he should track back and defend avery single ball. It will not work. The same way you cannot have Ruganni sitting on the bence for 4 months and then expect him to connect well with the rest of the defence and command the line.
    Bottom line, Allegri should decide upon what he wants to play and utilize all the players he have, to get the most out of every match! No energy and match management. You do not get points for the energy levels .

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet February 15, 2018 at 9:17 pm

      My always welcome contributor Mr Mixailis!….Indeed I completely agree, and perhaps I should have made myself more clear, in that the responsibility for the new signings not blossoming is directly tied to the slothful progress of their integration into the first XI. This responsibility falls with Max. Spending 90m on two players should have seen them both bedded into the first XI early doors…that was the bedding in time, teething trouble period, not around CL Last 16 time.

      This is another criticism of Max, though my suggestion of signing players of the wrong mentality who might not fit what we need also remains up for discussion. More on this this evening…I have just returned to work after four weeks away and I remain haggard from a hideous viral infection but must focus on corporate affairs! Thank you for the words.