Juventus’ dismal start to the season has finally reached the stage where Massimiliano Allegri’s team is formally eliminated from the UEFA Champions League for the 2022–23 season. Even if they win their last home game against Paris Saint-Germain, the Bianconeri will only qualify for the Europa League as the third-place team after losing 4-3 to Benfica on the road.
Allegri’s team had a dismal European tour, winning just once, at home against Maccabi Haifa, while losing four times overall. The fans, who are currently speculating about the manager’s future, won’t soon forget this defeat. Although the club has traditionally defended its manager, following such a dismal start to the season in both domestic and European competition, we can’t completely rule out any possibilities in the coming weeks. In the Serie A standings, Juventus is ninth, ten points down of first-place Napoli.
What will Allegri do next?
The club has publicly reconfirmed the coach’s status following the loss to Benfica. Nothing is anticipated to change prior to his tenure as president, which will last at least until the World Cup break in 2022. The club will meet with the current manager during the break to discuss the first few weeks of the 2022–23 season and make a final choice.
Andrea Agnelli, the club’s owner, has never fired the manager in the midst of the season, and he plans to continue with that approach now that he has a long-term contract with Allegri that runs until the summer of 2025.
What, however, went wrong? The following three main elements:
1. Allegri’s modifications
Allegri undoubtedly bears some of the blame for the season’s opening-weeks debacle. There were high expectations for this year following the signing of players like Paul Pogba, Gleison Bremer, Angel Di Maria, and Arek Milik by the club, who had a rather underwhelming first season following his comeback in the summer of 2021. However, it is now fairly obvious that Allegri was unable to unite his team while he waited for several of his players to recover from their individual injuries. It is also regrettable that the team’s play is not getting any better, and Allegri is undoubtedly to blame for this. The Bianconeri tried to alter the tactical setup, switching recently from the 4-3-3 to the 4-4-2 and then to the 3-5-2, but results remained elusive. Even if the most of the adjustments were caused by some notable injuries, it’s fair to conclude that Allegri should have tried to stick to one system instead of making so many.
2. Some injured key players
Speaking of injuries, certain important players were essentially sidelined for the majority of the games. starting with Pogba and Federico Chiesa, who are still healing and are not yet available. It’s likely that we won’t see either player until after the 2022 World Cup because they haven’t yet made their season debuts. Other important players, such as newly acquired Bremer, who missed the away game against Benfica, or Di Maria, who previously sustained two muscular ailments in the first three months, had problems that kept them out of many games in addition to these two.
It’s fair to say that Juventus has been unfortunate with the players who have been injured thus far, but it can’t and shouldn’t be the only reason for all of their problems up to this point.
3. The defense mechanism
The defensive system’s underperformance is the most concerning element. While newcomer Bremer and young prospect Federico Gatti, who played his debut Champions League match in Lisbon against Benfica, are still adjusting, experienced players like Leonardo Bonucci and Danilo are underperforming. Alex Sandro, who has been a big problem on the sides for a while, is now becoming one. Juan Cuadrado’s right side performances are not as strong as they once were.
The team made an effort to update the roster, but they also sold Matthjis de Ligt to Bayern Munich in the summer and replaced him with former Torino captain Bremer, who needs time to develop into the player he once was. Although working under pressure is not the best way to advance and address all of Juventus’ current issues, Allegri has little choice if he wants to keep his job.