The Day After Breakdown: The Derby
Torino, January 18th, 2021 – As last night’s loss can be attributed to a number of factors, it seems as though the feeling of most fans can be summed up with just one word – unimpressed. Given that Juventus have been the champions of Italy for now nine consecutive years, this lackluster performance was somewhat unexpected, and of course, not up to the club’s standard.
Each Inter Milan player saw the game through with clear intent, with everyone on the pitch working for one another – whereas in contrast, those in the black and white stripes had a performance equal to that of a mid-table team. I must tip my hat to Antonio Conte, who *finally* appears to be getting the most out of his men. Although stubborn with his tactics, wherever Conte has coached he has the ability to inject intensity, passion, and a winning mentality within his side… and that’s as far as I’ll go when ‘complimenting’ Inter.
On Sunday evening, Juventus clearly lacked the ambition that had been seen during the entirety of the winning cycle during the last decade. Other than the compelling battle between our captain Giorgio Chiellini and the force of nature that is Romelu Lukaku, our defenders at times looked lost and their man-marking ability resembled that of a Sunday league team. Poor.
Many hoped that the Fiorentina match was the wakeup call that the Bianconeri needed, although it seems as though the Old Lady was once again caught napping. All players seemed to lack the desire to get their team forward and create – I can’t even recall a single chance that fell to Juventus during the match that had me on the edge of my seat. Yes, the loss can be blamed on a combination of missing ‘grinta’ and poor player performances, yet the Derby also highlighted Mister Pirlo’s inexperience. Pirlo’s naivety was seen through fielding both Frabotta and Ramsey to defend the left side of the pitch, in where Inter’s pacey winger, Achraf Hakimi, took full advantage. While Frabotta has proved reliable for a select few league games, the absence of Alex Sandro was surely missed, as he provides a great deal of balance on his respective side.
The midfield is a problem of its own. The duo of Rabiot and Bentancur were just not giving enough in order take control of the middle of the pitch, where they were both clearly dominated by a young Nicolò Barella. Nonetheless, I don’t understand the flack that Bentancur gets. Of course, he (among others) did not perform to his full capability, however he has been one of our more consistent midfielders – I find that he just doesn’t have the right players around him to compliment what he has to offer. Though recent reports have stated that Juventus sporting director, Fabio Paratici has stated that he is happy with the current squad and that they are competitive enough, I truly hope he can find a way to bring in a much-needed imposing midfielder. I believe that a midfielder who resembles the likes of Nicolò Rovella, or Manuel Locatelli (though Sassuolo have said he won’t be leaving this January), could be exactly what this Juventus side needs – a midfielder with ideas. I find it quite ironic that the Andrea Pirlo, does not have a natural ‘regista’ on his team – not to mention, with the resources that Juventus have.
All this being said, never (ever!) count Juventus out of a title race. This club has proven time and time again that they are a force to reckon with. In my eyes, this match against Inter was a great test in order to gauge what changes that are needed to see the season through, and in addition, to (finally) give our heads a shake. The defending Italian champions must come out firing against Napoli on Wednesday in the Supercoppa Italiana final, in hopes of securing a piece of hardware, and to set the pace for the remainder of the season – no margin for error. Fino alla fine!