Juventus were back. Consecutive victories against Bologna and Maccabi Haifa in Serie A and the Champions League respectively, told Juventini as much. Yet those were teams struggling in transition after a change of coach and, well, a side assembled for a fraction of the fee the Old Lady paid Fiorentina for Dusan Vlahovic.
At the Stadio San Siro on Saturday night in Serie A, the Bianconeri faced a wounded AC Milan. The Rossoneri were still somewhat depleted through defensive absentees, although rampaging full-back Theo Hernandez had returned for the hosts, and they had suffered a disappointing 3-0 loss to Chelsea in the Champions League midweek.
A poor Juventus showing against AC Milan
Goals from Fikayo Tomori and Brahim Diaz either side of the half-time break, though, allowed the Rossoneri to join Serie A leaders Napoli and Atalanta on 20 points, albeit having now played one game more than their rivals, while Juventus now languish in eighth place, which would not even warrant European qualification.
Having won nine consecutive Scudetti between 2012 and 2020, Juventus are a shadow of previous years, despite returning to the tutelage of coach Massimiliano Allegri in an attempt to dominate domestic football once more.
There are signs, though, that the 55-year-old’s peak years are behind him. Ahead of their encounter at San Siro, Milan coach Stefano Pioli had never defeated his countryman in 17 league attempts. It is also the second time in the last 40 years that the Bianconeri have won none of their opening four away fixtures. Maybe Juventus supporters can cling to the fact that they at least finished second (to Milan) when that last happened in 1993/94.
Time may soon be up for Allegri
The former Rossoneri coach has always been something of a pragmatist and rarely unleashed his sides from their defensive responsibilities, but without the generational talents of goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and centre-back Giorgio Chiellini, and a top-quality supporting cast. A solidity first approach will not be enough this season to squeeze them into the Champions League qualification places.
Against Milan, Juventus conceded 21 shots on goal. The most so far this season. In a way, that might be accepted if the Bianconeri had similarly peppered the hosts’ goal, but they had less than half that amount, despite having €75 million striker Vlahovic and Arkadiusz Milik leading the line.
Juventus will brush aside their Israeli opponents in Europe on Tuesday night and take local bragging rights against a struggling Torino next weekend, but could well be out of Europe and the Serie A title race before the break for the 2022 World Cup, if Allegri doesn’t change his uninspiring and docile approach.