Juve, Champions mission: it’s at -6, here’s how to get there

Allegri never so in the slipstream from 22 November. Decisive January with direct clashes, the key? How Dybala and Chiesa return

Luca Bianchin

Juve, after falling to 8 points from fourth place, has now risen to -6. He was not so in contact with the Champions League odds for 5 rounds. Is a mission possible? Let’s try to understand how Allegri can do it.


The Provincial Lady

The provincial Juventus invoked by Allegri before Venice is not the best of the fan’s wishes, but in Bologna it was seen and, in its own way, it worked. Juve reduced his gap from the Champions League in this way, thanks to a favorable calendar but also to a new mentality. Allegri, like it or not, right or wrong, he is convinced that this team does not have the quality to command the games with a light heart, to impose superiority as his old Juve did. Max then chose to work on attitude. Juve defend low but carefully – a goal conceded in the last five – and above all they stopped getting distracted, putting in line the individual mistakes that destroyed Pirlo. That seen in Bologna is a team that remains compact, he inserts Arthur and Rabiot with good results, does not lose his head. Here is the progress of the last month, to be kept in 2022. By the way, 2021 is not over. The older ones more than sometimes get lost in the last game before Christmas, distracted by the holidays like the boys at the back. Square teams, almost never. On Tuesday Juve must give an answer: which group do you belong to?

The limits

Individuals who need to give more

The other side of the coin is all too easy, you know it even without throwing it in the air: a humble and prudent team rarely dominates, they certainly don’t have an offensive game to lean on. The proof: Juve for expected goals (basically, the scoring chances produced, net of the strikers’ aim) are only tenth in the league and in the last month they do just better, sixth. Juve does not have a basic structure – recently a lot of 4-2-3-1, then 4-3-3 of Bologna, but this has never disturbed Allegri’s sleep. Rather, the problem is that offensively he doesn’t have many certainties to lean on, net of Cuadrado, recently of Bernardeschi. Morata? For a while in crisis, however inconstant. Dybala? Less than 950 minutes in A. Some, worse, are downright disappointing. Alex Sandro does not come close to sufficiency. Kulusevski is certainly not Allegri’s favorite. Bentancur is down. Kean still has too many technical limitations. And Rabiot, while not as blotted out as Ramsey, is often just as invisible. Here Juve have a margin: if they do not make progress, it will be impossible to finish fourth. If he succeeds … who knows.

The calendar

After the break, the big

Juventus played better on average against the big players than against the small ones. In fourth place, however, there is little to choose: he has to play in a row against the last 10-12 and not betray in head-to-head clashes. There is a problem: in January, when we start cycling again after the holidays, there will be the Alpine stage. Napoli and Roma in Serie A, then Inter in the Super Cup, all in seven days, from 6 to 12 January. And a little further on, by 13 February, the away matches against Milan and Atalanta. Mountain only. At that point, of course, it will be downhill, but we need to understand in what position Juve will arrive. In contact with the best? Or far away, with the morale on the ground like a flat tire? Those who do not follow Schopenhauer and tend towards optimism, can hope: Juve, starting the year well, could take a look at the Champions League – the first leg with Villarreal will be on 22-2-’22, from 2 fixed in the ticket – and launch for the long sprint in the championship. Between March, April and early May, the calendar is very good, before the double challenge with Lazio (penultimate day) and Fiorentina (last). There is the case they become direct clashes for fourth place.

The extra weapons

Paulo and Faith, it’s up to you

Did you like Juventus in Bologna, with two wings plus Morata? Here, please consider that Paulo Dybala, with that game system, would struggle. Allegri will change because there is a certainty in this story: Juventus, without Dybala and Chiesa in good physical condition throughout the second round, have no great hopes of catching up with Atalanta, Napoli or Milan. The fifth place reached with Dybala at half service, a Chiellini from 10 games and Chiesa out of action since November, gives Max hope: if the team remains healthy on average, an overtaking – only one, from fifth to fourth place – should not be impossible. The point, however, is to understand how the two key players will return, both expected in 2022, some first (Paulo), some later (Federico). Chiesa has so far decided in the Champions League but has tended to be a nomad – winger, second striker, first striker – and has received some criticism of Allegri, who clearly does not consider him his ideal player. Dybala, on the other hand, has always remained at the center of Juve but overall, net of the penalty against Inter, he scored only for teams that live on the last seven floors of the table. It is not enough, even Paulo knows.

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Juve, Champions mission: it’s at -6, here’s how to get there