WHAT WE LEARNED: JUVENTUS 0-1 BENEVENTO
It has to bring a worry to everyone’s mind that Juve has now dropped points in two games against the recently risen Benevento. A team is so unknown by many that its most famous element is its coach Pippo Inzaghi. In a scene all too repeated this season, Juve failed once again to do the clean-up duties against the easier teams in the table. A game that was void of any ideas, constant back passes and crosses back and forth that often looked liked volleyball between wingbacks, it is safe to say Juve deserved its fate today. While we were happy to see some faces back in the roster today, we also saw some faces that we’d prefer were not out there today. In the end, a catastrophic error by Arthur led to the good capitalization by Gaich on Benevento. In due fashion the ensuing minutes only added to the agony in the feeling that this is slowly slipping away.
Cohesion in a team is one of its most important aspects, we often see the same old stars step up on this team time and time again. However, they won’t always be there to save us, today other players such as Morata, Kulu and Danilo had the chances to put this game away and they sadly failed to do that. Isolation rather than cohesion is the best way to find a bad run of form. It was an overall frustrating game to watch, not only failing to entertain but just increasingly repetitive as time went on. The disorganization was perhaps the biggest letdown though because it allowed for the team to take on a shape that did not adapt well to what the game required from it. We saw this clearly on the goal, Arthur does a crazy pass into a wide-open box with no one there to answer for it but Gaich. From the start, there were warning signs on what was to come as far as the defense is concerned. De ligt and Bonucci were clearly not on the same page today, we saw inaccurate passes between them, tense backward passes that led to a scary De Ligt slip in a dangerous area, and the lack of maintaining an organized defensive line. When one of them pushed up the other would stay back, they were rarely in unison. The same could be said for the fullbacks, while Berna was clearly not his normal position today, it was not for him to wander the pitch coast to coast leaving the back exposed or forcing Chiesa(one of your best players) to track back when he is clearly not as effective as Chiesa up the pitch. Danilo also put himself in bizarre portions as well, he also unsurprisingly missed two sitters today. I can appreciate his hunger and determination for wanting to get up and make a difference, but we all know he wasn’t going to score those.
This game consisted in rotation and seeing players come and go because of injury and/or suspension, while this provided a formula for disorganization, it should be said Juve were playing Benevento. No disrespect to Benevento, who put in a heck of a defensive masterpiece today, but Juve regardless of who is out there should be winning this game easily. So despite this, let's review the ins and outs per se. Arthur once against featured in almost a full match and safe to say there were high exceptions for him coming in. However, as it is increasingly occurrent with our midfielders(not just him), there was a constant desire to pass the ball backwards, it happened all game time and time again, even when we were down in the score. Arthur had an ok first half where he showcased a few instances of his close touch dribbling, but again these were just flashes. What he was brought here to do was not visible today, he once again joined in on the back and sideways passing action. This mentality not only didn’t allow him to have a good game, but it also meant that he felt totally comfortable in launching a sideways pass across the face of the goal rather than booting it down the field. He knew of his mistake immediately and at least he acknowledged it. Our midfielders need to be that link to those up top, but at least Arthur got a mention, Rabiot on the other hand was completely irrelevant on the pitch, he made no impact what so ever. Once again to reiterate, this lack of forward passing and creativity means that often Chiesa has to track back more, Ronaldo has to track back as well and Berna and Danilo going means that they end up putting themselves in positions that they are often not very good at with Danilo shooting from 6 yards out or Berna skying crosses over Ronaldo’s head.
Despite the lack of shape or organization in the team today, there were chances were there to be made. Everyone just seemed to miss when it came time to finish. We can count multiple instances in this game where Ronaldo missed, Morata missed twice and Danilo of course, for this was simply a bad game for Morata for example. However, with players like Kulsevski, this game shows an increasingly worrisome run of form. I’m going to say something perhaps touchy or controversial, but I think it is time for Kulusevski to be put on the bench for at least a few games. It has been 4-5 games now where he has been starting with nothing to show for it. I know that due to the limitations of the squad that has been difficult to do with injuries and suspensions, but once Cuadrado is back and if he is placed in that overlapping role alongside Danilo, I see little input that Kulusevski can add other than coming from the bench. Yes, I understand he is young and full of potential, I am not knocking that and hope that he becomes a star for us. In the meantime, he needs to make sure his minutes are not taken for granted. He has become a shadow of his earlier form from earlier this season.
I think a lot of his issues will improve with time. Two things that I am worried about in his play are 1.) His overreliance on his left foot. This leaves him looking like a slower, bulkier version of Arjen Robben. 2.) He lacks vision and composure, at times when he is in open space he often forgets to take a look up the field towards his teammates, he seems to be focused on running the ball in himself rather than looking for the better option. Again, I wish him nothing but the best and I have a lot of hope for him, hopefully, he can value his high-priced minutes at the biggest club in Italy more.
There are few positives to take from this game at all. The team missed, it messed up, and didn’t find a way to make up the difference. I’d say losing to Benevento at home without being able to score at all against one of the worst teams in Serie A is probably bottom, but yet you never know with this team. For now, the concentration remains in trying to be a disruptive force in this campaign, despite what we might not want to hear, this is now a season with little room for error on the downward trend. As we look to the standings we are now joined by Napoli and Atalanta, it would flatter them to see themselves as the teams that ensured Juve wouldn’t even make the Champions League next season. We never expected to be in this position, yet here we are. If not playing in the prestige of Europe next season doesn’t serve as motivation I don’t know what else will.