Stoppage-time free-kick sees Juventus past Cremonese, but criticism of Allegri as valid as ever

Juventus left Cremona with all three points on Wednesday night, but their performance against Cremonese again left more questions than answers.

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Federico Chiesa’s return to the pitch was the undisputed highlight of Juventus’ trip to take on Cremonese as Serie A returned from a near-two-month break on Wednesday with Massimiliano Allegri’s side scraping a 1-0 stoppage-time win in Cremona. 

Arkadiusz Milik dispatched a late free-kick that just about squirmed past goalkeeper Marco Carnesecchi, allowing the Bianconeri to leave with three points that few of even their own fans would argue they were deserving of.

Dentist, doctor… Juventus

But beyond the result, it was hard to sit through Juventus’ performance and the game as a whole and make sense of what the Serie A table had been showing for close to two months – that being that Juventus had been occupying third place behind only runaway leaders Napoli and reigning champions AC Milan. Allegri’s side haven’t exactly been known for edge-of-the-seat stuff since his return, but in Serie A’s absence you could have been forgiven for forgetting just what watching Juventus meant. 

When Pep Guardiola described facing Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta as being an experience similar to the suffering endured on a trip to Juventus, it was an undeniable compliment for a side that had been overachieving to ever reach the Champions League. Watching Juventus, though, has become a similarly insufferable experience but for very different reasons. 

Against a side in the bottom three and without a win from 15 previous games, Allegri’s Juventus again played with the handbrake on. It was Cremonese who even had the best chances – they were unlucky not to lead in the first half when an offside flag saved Wojciech Szczesny’s blushes, and Cyriel Dessers went within inches of a second-half opener when he rattled the post after firing past the Polish goalkeeper. 

As good as Cremonese goalkeeper Carnesecchi is, Juventus went most of the 90 minutes without forcing him to be at his best aside from Moise Kean forcing a superb reactionary save from the 22-year-old from point-blank range. 

Even with Juventus’ finest bit of attacking work – Adrien Rabiot slipping a ball through to Flip Kostic whose squared ball towards Milik was intercepted – Carnesecchi wasn’t needed to keep them out.

Juventus don’t know how to attack

Juventus’ wins over Inter and Lazio stand out when you look through their 2022/23 results, and their failure to score against Sampdoria, and Monza seem far more aligned with their performances this term. They scored once against Lecce and once against Hellas Verona as well.

Until Milik curled his low effort past Carnesecchi in stoppage time, it really didn’t look as though they were going to find a way to leave Cremona with all three points. 

Trust is a hard thing to quantify in football, but Juventus fans could be forgiven if they were to admit to giving up hope as they watched things unfold at the Stadio Giovanni Zini. And despite their position in the Serie A table, it’s hard to trust Allegri’s side to push on and mount a real title challenge.

That, though, would likely come as music to the ears of Allegri, his staff and his Juventus squad.

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