As if the 1-0 loss in Madrid wasn’t enough for our hearts to take, again we find ourselves on the losing side of another 1-0 away loss, this time to the Greeks of Olympiacos. After a visit to the Mapei Stadium which resulted in a disappointing 1-1 draw after an excellent effort from Simone Zaza to be matched by Paul Pogba later in the match, Allegri and Juventus have been on a bumpy road, along with the Azzurri who struggled in their matches as well. The results are not as concerning as they way Juventus played in Greece. Despite another poor UCL result, something we are sadly getting used to as Juventini and fans of the Serie A, there was certainly a lot to take from this match both positive and negative.
With a long list of injuries, including Andrea Barzagli and Martin Caceres, Juventus were forced to use Ogbonna slightly out of position playing on the right of Leonardo Bonucci. While Ogbonna seems to be gaining confidence more and more in each game, he was giving the ball away and causing the Olympiacos attack to create a number of opportunities. Ogbonna was not the only one giving the ball away in Juve’s own defensive third, but also the most unlikely of candidates, Italian legend, Andrea Pirlo.
Yesterday was living proof that the legend himself, Andrea Pirlo is capable of a bad game. Perhaps a bad game is an understatement, Pirlo played shockingly horrible. As wild as it might be to say, Pirlo was truly a liability on the field before being taken off by fellow countryman, Claudio Marchisio. Pirlo was giving away passes left and right, not picking out the runs by Morata and Tevez and losing possession in dangerous areas. Whether it was the fatigue and pressure from the recall by Antonio Conte to bring Il Maestro back to the Azzurri for international duty, or something else, surely Pirlo was not impressed with his own performance.
Juventus often struggle against an opposing 4-3-3 as the wing-backs have to work extremely hard defensively to contain the wingers and also have to take advantage of the space when on the attack. Lichtsteiner and Asamoah, who are usually brilliant, struggled massively closing down space and putting in good crosses. The two usually show a great deal of grit and fight, but yesterday, especially Lichtsteiner, was incredibly frustrating and fouled far too much. Unable to really pick out Tevez and Morata, the two deemed offensively useless in last night’s match.
Finishing seems to be the common issue these past few match weeks as Tevez and Morata failed to hit the back of the net, forcing some immaculate saves by Olympiacos’ shot-stopper, Roberto. The two were disappointing in this regard, but were certainly unlucky not to have scored in the final ten or so minutes of the match.
Despite a very poor 70 minutes from the Bianconeri, there were still some positives to be taken from last night’s match. Allegri chose Morata over Llorente to start the match, which seemed to nearly pay off as a Morata made many electrifying runs into and around the box, testing Roberto a number of times late in the game and setting up Tevez for a great opportunity that would only hit the hands of Roberto, again.
Morata proved that he is more than capable of being a difference maker in important games and one could argue that he was extremely unlucky not to have put one past Roberto after heading it just over the crossbar, forcing a few great saves, one particularly that hit the bar after a save similar to that of a young-Iker Casillas. Morata showed a great deal of class referring to Roberto as one of the world’s best Goalkeepers and later followed him on twitter later that evening. Every week, Juve’s Spanish forwards show their class and respect, becoming immediate fan favorites.
The defense was actually pretty firm aside from a few heart-attack-inducing mistakes, but overall their performance was pretty solid. Paul Pogba linked the defense to the midfield very well and nearly had a goal himself after a cross took a tremendous curve forcing another great save from Roberto.
Something Must Change:
Another poor performance in the Champions League is certainly worrying Juventini after what seemed would be a very promising campaign after a thrashing against Malmo turned into more unanswered questions and heartbreaks.
It is no denying that the Karaiskakis and the Calderon are very difficult stadiums to visit and go home with three-points, but failing to score in both stadiums is nothing short of inexcusable. Wether it be a change in tactics or a change in mentality, something must be done–and fast–from Mister Max Allegri, because only 10 or 15 minutes of true Juventenita and intensity is inexcusable from a more than experienced and talented side, such as our Bianconeri.
The “little soldiers” of Juventus gained much more spark through the additions of Roberto Pereyra and Giovinco who did a very good job of doing everything they could to try and break a tired Olympiacos defense, but they must be credited with a strong defensive showing and incredible goalkeeping by Roberto. Allegri has a lot to consider, and Juventus’ fate is in their own hands. Results at home against Atletico and Olympiacos are a MUST as is the away visit to Malmo if Juventus want to regain European prestige and pedigree after many years of European irrelevance.