What we learned: Juve vs Porto
If you thought the eliminations vs Ajax and Lyon were bad, this one was probably worse, it hurt way more. After completely dominating the second half and most of the game after the resulting red card on Taremi, Juve yet again fall short, against a team that was playing with ten men. Why suffer the resulting extra 30 minutes when we would lose in the most painful of fashions anyways. This is why it is worse than the last two years. The game started and ended in the worst of ways, with two goals let in vs Porto and now the prospect of almost playing for nothing except the Coppa Italia, it seems as though this season is ending for us in early March. When we just don't think Juve can break our hearts again, they yet again find a new way how to. This loss will hurt a lot and for a long time.
Despite the final score in this game, Porto actually had significant chances to put themselves up early on in this game. Yes, a penalty was scored, was it harsh? of course, it was, but this doesn't neglect the fact that Porto didn't back down and hunker down the fort until the red card for the most part. In reality, if Porto scores the penalty and Taremi scores his chance phenomenally blocked by Bonucci this ends up being done and dusted before halftime. The mentality Juve had from the start that Porto would park the bus the entire time meant that Juve became soft and compliant in defense, they allowed Porto a small window of opportunity that they could exploit. Once again simple mistakes led to Juve's demise, Demiral's clumsiness in the box, and even Mckennie reacting to getting mugged to give up a freekick. I have to give credit to Porto for knowing to capitalize on the repeated mistakes, both in the first and second leg.
Its also been hard to absorb this loss because despite the elimination we did actually see a better team at times during this game and several players that also had fantastic performances. In short, Chiesa and Cuadrado were absolutely brilliant at times in this game, they were much of the only reasons why this remained a competitive tie at all. In a game where we all expected the two big men up top to show up, they remained largely invisible( except for two glaring misses by Morata), nevertheless, it allowed for unsung heroes to fill the void. Chiesa had a phenomenal performance making dangerous runs up and down the left flank all night. His first goal was a brilliant strike to the far post after a Bonucci ball into the box that Ronaldo smartly moved away from. In the second goal, Chiesa put away a powerful header after a great cross by Cuadrado. These two players controlled wide play all game and provided danger every time they neared the box. After the start of the second half, the game shifted completely and players like Arthur and Rabiot began to see much more action on the ball, hence why we saw two goals and much more intensity from the team as a whole. This intensity seemed like it faded however as the game progressed and fatigue set in.
When the game shifted to extra time, it seemed like the inevitable would happen, Juve would eventually find another goal. Instead, Porto did its bits and did not allow any serious goal attempt from Juve especially in the first period of extra time. What was the best chance for Juve before the Porto goal was the penalty appeal in the box after Marchesin clipped Ronaldo? This action was a penalty, of course, it should have at least gone to VAR review. However, it is hard and inexcusable for me to come up with appeals like that or the handball in the first half to say we were robbed of anything. That's the frustrating thing, Juve simply did not deserve to go through. Had this been one of the major heavyweights in European football like Bayern, City, PSG, and others, this tie might have not even been one bit competitive. This is turn makes us all wonder about the reality of this club, is our domestic successes our peak as a club, is that all we can aspire to? When Tek couldn't make the save and the wall looked completely broken, it seemed as though it represented our season in many ways. There was the confidence that no bad could come from giving up careless free-kick miles from goal and yet the ball goes under the wall unexpectedly and Tek who had been so reliable for much of this season seems perplexed when a ball is low and is helpless to the ball roll to push it in, which everyone knows he could have done better at. Comically we haven't even mentioned Rabiot's goal which served simply to keep our hopes up, only to come crashing down again at the sound of the final whistle. The worry about time winding down, looming penalty stress, a careless free-kick goal allowed, a Rabiot goal to make you believe, it was all simply too much to take in for us in the stretch of 5-10 minutes.
At the end of last season, we all asked and believed that there would be change at our club given the way Juve was knocked out of the UCL by Lyon. This year sadly it has been substantially worse. The anger and frustration of many in the fanbase are sky-high. In a year where salaries are being cut and trades being made to save capital, it is hard seeing Juve look the same way next season. This loss is frustrating because accomplishment felt so close yet so far. The fact that Juventus is struggling to beat Porto (A team 3rd in Liga Nos) and the fact that we would have been so happy to have done so is truly a humbling experience. Just 4 years ago or so we disappointed after losing 2 UCL finals in 3 years, and deservedly so, they were Champions league finals. Now, we are not even worthy of being in the top 8 of European football. There is a long way forward in rebuilding this club, we all know what the major problems are and they have been repeated multiple times by the fanbase. One can only hope that this experience serves as a true changing of the guard, we have to look at every facet of the club, not just players or management. We have to move forward not backward.