It's the coach's fault, it's the player's fault, it's management's fault.....the blame game doesn't matter right now and can be dealt with later. What does matter right now? Only one thing and that's winning. Juve suffered an embarrassing defeat to Benevento and had to follow it up with a meeting with inner-city rivals Torino. To say Pirlo's job is in jeopardy would be a massive understatement. Rumors of a possible return of Allegri or simply having Pirlo's assistant Tudor acting as interim continue to swirl in the buildup to this match. Fans and pundits alike start to now wonder if the top 4 is even achievable if Juve doesn't right the ship. If that wasn't enough to have to worry about, three Juventus players got themselves in trouble at an apparent party which was reported to the authorities. The players involved were McKennie, Arthur, and Dybala. They were fined by the club and Pirlo suspended them for the Torino match and in my opinion rightfully so. Whether we are afraid to sacrifice the points or not the players made a mistake and must be held accountable regardless of the standings as there must be a standard they're held to. With all this going on how would the players on the pitch respond? After all this is a Torino side who is battling to stay alive and trying to avoid regulation, regardless of who is out for Juventus they should be more than capable of getting the job done. Unfortunately in another frustrating performance, where our starting goalkeeper Szczesny allows two goals that he needs to be better on and one of those being spearheaded by an awful Kulusevski error almost identical to the one he made against Lazio, Juve was only able to come away with a draw. Let the blame game continue...
With a meeting against Napoli only 4 days away and the realization that if we don't get things going in the right direction and quickly, the top 4 could even slip away, the rumors of a possible change at the coaching position intensified. The upcoming match against Napoli being labeled Pirlo's last if Juve does not get the result. News also hits that Agnelli and Allegri had watched the derby together, later to be reported that this was false but the two did share a meal together. Pirlo stated in the build-up to the match that Agnelli had mentioned to him about the dinner and to expect this news to be reported but do we believe they haven't talked about what's going on at the club in general? I won't for a second. The club and its board continue to say Pirlo is backed and that results won't change the plans they had involving the project...but it's hard to believe they would not act should top 4 in the table not be achieved and at that moment the Napoli match was big one in terms of maintaining that position. The speculation of what could happen otherwise was all over the place and that's putting it lightly...Tudor to finish up as coach ( how is that any better?) Allegri brought in to secure the top 4 ( he was already moved out for a reason and would want a multi-year commitment, is that what we want to do?) Spalletti even a name floating around ( is it that bad?). While Pirlo has made his mistakes and he has admitted them, I can't help but feel our players are just as much to blame. We have three players with great offensive statistics in Ronaldo, Morata, and Chiesa and we have the best defense in terms of goals allowed in the league yet we find ourselves battling for a Champions League place and out of the race for the scudetto, as I find it hard to believe a Conte led squad won't secure 7 points out of the final 9 matches to lock it up. The one constant amongst all of this is for me is the many times we have seen the club come out flat and not play with the intensity required or the focus and while some of this is on the coach, the players also need to hold themselves accountable. We have a 23-year-old who has shown the proper approach, attitude, and mentality, that should be demanded at Juventus and used to be the standard, in Chiesa and to be honest much of our core hasn't been able to match it. This will always be an issue when it occurs in squads. Our captain Chiellini has repeatedly said after matches that this team continues to fail in the moments that matter most and that they need to understand these moments much better and identify them properly in-game. The fact these players have suffered through an incredible amount of injuries as well and then you have three key players getting themselves suspended before a derby. This is a recipe for a struggle in a much-strengthened league to years past. So, while all these speculations about the future in terms of transfers and managers are taking place the only thought on my mind was in terms of this Napoli match and that was we must win or no planning will matter as many of those decisions will be out of our hands in terms of players who would come and players we would be able to retain and managers who would be up for dealing with a tougher rebuild without the resources of Champions League money. The positive going into this match was Arthur, McKennie and Dybala were going to be available. The lineup hits and again 4-4-2 but a bit of a shift solidifying the right side with Danilo and Cuadrado was shown with the latter being moved forward and our legend Gigi Buffon named as goalkeeper over Tek who struggled in the Derby. The midfield pivots remained as Bentancur and Rabiot which was a bit worrying but again these intense rivalry matches can fade from tactics and end up being battles in which heart, strength, and determination end up taking over. Luckily for us, the team came out and played with the proper intenisty and focus from the hop and even Ronaldo worked defensively. Every player sacrificed for the cause, this has only been the case may be a handful of times so far this season and if that's the case where we find ourselves in the table is fair regardless of statistics. The squad pulled out a 2-1 victory through goals by Ronaldo after incredible work by Chiesa and then a great feed right at the spot in the area that CR was able to pounce on and the second which was the winner scored by our Joya in his much-awaited return, Paulo Dybala with a trademark left-footed curler far post ended p being the winner and what it meant was evident with the players on the bench and all the players on the pitch pouncing on the argentine to celebrate. Paulo wasted no time after scoring to make sure he patted on the crest as well and with his future uncertain maybe a sign of intentions on his part? I can't help but wonder, for a player who has turned into a problem for most Juventini, if we would be in this position in the table if Dybala had been available for most of this season. Also, while some praised Pirlo for finally putting players in proper positions in this setup against Napoli, I again had to bring up the fact he hasn't really been able to do that as there have been far too many injuries and there would always be some players shifted around, that and he had to rely on a young Kulusevski more that club and player I'm sure were expecting to this season. Again regardless of all these questions and thoughts only one thing matters and that's to finish strong and secure top 4.
The questions arising later in the week were the futures of some of the old guard. Buffon and Chiellini in particular. Chiellini seems more destined to retire, I can't help but feel awful if this gladiator would call it a career without getting the proper send-off in a packed Allianz Stadium but his reliability is a major question mark. Dragusin the young Romanian defender was locked up into a contract a week's end and maybe that's a sign of the decision Chiellini will make, of course, it could just be Juventus securing an asset as well as there was plenty of interest in Dragusin. In terms of Buffon it was reported late in the week he would like more playing time and may move away from Juventus again. He is definitely still capable but in terms of Juventus at some point, you do need to get ready to pass the torch and Szczesny has had some uncharacteristic struggles lately and for me, there are some questions there. I basically feel he isn't a real big issue that must be dealt with but if there were an opportunity to lock up a young talent like saying Donnarumma you would have to consider it if you were Juventus. Back to Buffon, regardless if he does leave Juve again I believe he must retire with us and ultimately have some role at the club as he is a prime ambassador for the club and respected throughout the world of football. In respect to Dybala the question now is, with it appearing he has one foot out the door, could a strong finish flip the script and make him part of plans again? Pirlo, would a top 4 finish and a win in the Coppa Italia final against Atalanta on May 19th be enough to keep him around? The truth is the team can say what they want and the reporters and journalists can say what they want as well but there's really only a few that know what is going to happen and my eyes as I've stated several times as of late is on one man throughout all this and that's Agnelli. It is time for him to properly show what the plan is and to not only show us the vision but begin to execute it. However, you as well as I know we won't see this until the dust settles at the end of the season so for now the blame game doesn't matter, the potential transfers...don't matter, the potential coaching changes...don't matter, the future of certain stars....don't matter, right now the only thing that matters is winning and securing that top 4 finish. From what we've seen this season I would advise everyone to buckle up.
Next up Genoa on Sunday, Apr 11th, enjoy the match and upcoming week Juventini.
Forza Juve Fino Alla Fine