Although Juventus were without several first-team regulars at the Allianz Stadium on Saturday night, they still brushed aside relegation-threatened Hellas Verona 1-0 on Matchday 28 of the 2022/23 Serie A campaign and reentered the race for Champions League qualification.
Having reached the Europa League quarter-finals, where they face Sporting Clube de Portugal, that looked like the Bianconeri’s best chance of returning to Europe’s top table, but the under-strength lineup moved them within four points of AC Milan in fourth position with a sprint to the finish now expected.
Title challenging form underpinning Champions League chase
After Monza left the Juventus Stadium with a surprise three points at the end of January, The Old Lady have lost just once in Serie A and propelled themselves up the standings towards the Champions League qualification places, in the wake of their 15-point deduction for capital gains fraud.
Had it not been for that punishment, it would be the Bianconeri who would be closest to champions-elect Napoli this term and have secured eight more points than their fellow Scudetto challengers over the last 20 matchdays. While it is still hard to match the phenomenal form of the Partenopei, Juventini must be considering how differently the season could have ended.
After Inter had been defeated by Fiorentina earlier in the day, a 17th clean sheet of the season is another reminder of how difficult to beat coach Massimiliano Allegri has made them, considering they have struggled for goals and creativity at times. However, other than Napoli, no side has a better goal difference.
Wasted opportunity for Vlahovic
Just over a year ago, on February 6 2022, Dusan Vlahovic’s Juventus career got off to the perfect start with a debut goal against the Gialloblu in Turin and he looked like the player that would fire the Bianconeri back to the top of the Serie A standings. However, the Serbian international has struggled this term, and had scored just three league goals in his last 11 appearances.
The ex-Fiorentina player was left on the Bianconeri bench though and, even allowing for Allegri suggesting that they would focus on progressing in the Coppa Italia and Europa League, it could have been the chance for the striker to gain some much-needed confidence. When he did arrive from the bench, he looked lost, chasing aimless balls into the channels and complaining to teammates for the quality of service he was receiving.
Second string shortcomings
Despite wrestling three points from a determined Verona side, the disjointed start by this collection of Juventus fringe players highlighted that coach Allegri cannot do without so many regulars during the coming weeks, as they lacked some cohesion on the attack.
Although they had most possession during the opening 45 minutes, goal-scoring chances were limited. They were restricted to a pair of free kicks from almost identical positions on the edge of the Gialloblu box. However, Juan Cuadrado shot high over the crossbar on 24 minutes and Danilo went marginally closer 10 minutes later when a deflected effort struck the outside of the post.
At the break, Fabio Miretti replaced fellow youngster Enzo Barrenechea, but even though Moise Kean ended a wonderful passing move by blasting the ball into the net on 54 minutes, Allegri was quick to bring on Angel di Maria, Dusan Vlahovic and Filip Kostic to avoid any unwanted mistakes.