They say that with every new day there’s fresh hope. Yet, Juventus fans will certainly require more time to digest the horror show witnessed last night at the Maradona Stadium. Sadly, the 1-5 defeat at the hands of our southern rivals will burn for a long long while.
After eight straight wins in a row, Bianconeri fans were hoping for win over Serie A leaders Napoli which would confirm our status as serious Scudetto contenders. However, the abysmal performance displayed on Friday suggested that our recent positive run might have been a mere false dawn.
But in order to “achieve” such historically humiliating defeat, one factor surely isn’t enough. No, you’d need a cocktail of poisonous ingredients blending together to creat such calamitous outcome. So let’s inspire from the spectacular number of goals conceded last night and settle for five factors.
In some of our recent displays, Max Allegri prevailed in the tactical battle while deploying his favorite maneuver: leaving the initiative to his opponents while harrying them on the counter attacks. For instance it worked to perfection against Inter and Lazio.
But this time around, this approach has spectacularly backfired, since Napoli enjoy nothing more than maintaining possession and asserting their authority all over the pitch while slowly picking their foes apart with Stanislav Lobotka anchoring the play.
We said it time and time again, Federico Chiesa as a wingback is a major waste of talent. But on a more dangerous note, the Italian can be a liability at the back, as proven by the first two goals conceded where he failed to properly support Danilo in his agonizing battle against Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.
The 25-year-old has only recently returned from injury and this happened to be his first start in over a year. So by the time Allegri decided to thrust him in his natural advanced position, the damage had already been done, while his energy level had significantly dropped.
So Chiesa didn’t prove be a major help at the back, but what about our original defenders?
Forget about the last eight clean sheets, our backline was exposed for what it really is: a department in-need of comprehensive bolstering.
In his defense, Gleison Bremer didn’t receive proper support in his duel against Victor Osimhen, but even though, the Brazilian looked completely out of sort and was always second to the ball. It was surely his worst display since making the crosstown transfer last summer.
For his part, Alex Sandro had an incredibly poor display as well – which isn’t exactly a shocking outcome for a declining fullback who’s trying to act as a centre-back.
Now certainly our injury status has improved compared to the first part of the season, but Juventus still missed key players like Dusan Vlahovic and Paul Pogba. Yesterday, the gulf in midfield quality between the two clubs was evident to see, so surely the Frenchman would have closed the gap.
Moreover, the absence of Juan Cuadrado and Mattia De Sciglio was also significant, since it prompted Allegri’s decision to field Chiesa as a wingback.
In the end, we must give a tip of the hat for our opponents who are quite deservedly on their right path towards their first Scudetto triumph since Diego Maradona’s golden era.
Luciano Spalletti’s strategy is working to perfection, while Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia were simply extraordinary on Friday, making the most of their chances – which proved the be the decisive difference between this encounter and our clash against Inter (with Lautaro Martinez and company wasting several opportunities).
So while the crushing defeat remains humiliating, depressing and unjustifiable, our solitary solace is that it came at the hands of one of the most in-form clubs in Europe.