It is far from an understatement to say that this has been an extremely weird season for Juventus, both on the pitch and away from it.
On it, they have carved out a reputation as a seriously boring team to watch and one that should really be avoided by neutrals, but their overall positive results across the campaign cannot be ignored.
Away from it, there was of course the 15-point penalty for capital gains violations which was then suspended, pushing them back up their on-pitch position of third in the Serie A table.
One of their on-field issues has been the sheer amount of either misfiring or absent quality in the squad. Injuries have meant that Federico Chiesa and Paul Pogba have left almost no impact on the season at all, whilst terrible form has meant other potentially key players have become figures of hate for the fanbase. Thankfully for Massimiliano Allegri, two of them got a potentially vital confidence boost on Matchday 33 against Lecce.
Vlahovic breaks his duck
One of the major disappointments for Juventus this season has been the form of Dusan Vlahovic. One of the most sorry sights in football is a quality striker who is utterly devoid of confidence and just cannot do anything right.
The Serbian striker had not found the back of the net from open play for Juventus since February which is alarming for a team’s No.9. Coming into the match against Lecce at the Allianz Stadium, Vlahovic had only scored eight times in Serie A all season, a stark difference to the seven he got in his first 15 Serie A games when he joined the Bianconeri.
Whilst he did not produce a vintage display on Wednesday night, he did score a superb goal from open play which was a reminder of what the 23-year-old has in his locker. He watched a floated cross come into the box in the first half and hit a powerful and precise volley into the bottom corner it restoring Juventus‘ lead to 2-1 after Assan Ceesay had scored a penalty at the other end.
With so few games left, there is no time for Vlahovic to build a serious run of form but that sort of goal has proved to be the launchpad for strikers in the past to have a strong end to the campaign.
A rare contribution from Paredes
Another player that has seriously disappointed Juventus fans this season is Leandro Paredes. The Argentinian midfielder looked like a potentially shrewd bit of business from Juve as they secured him on loan from Paris Saint-Germain with an option to buy, but his lack of impact is a large part of why Fabio Miretti and Nicolo Fagioli have seen so many minutes this season.
Paredes has played 20 times in Serie A for Juve but only 21% of those appearances have been from the start. Each time he has played, there has been very little to suggest that he can be a midfielder at the top level.
Before facing Lecce, he had contributed to one goal all season in all competitions, which was an assist in a Champions League group game defeat to Benfica. Goalscoring and creation aren’t his primary job, but any coach would like to see slightly more from a midfielder.
His overall performance was impressive against Lecce, though, and it was glossed by an excellent free-kick that opened the scoring in the first half when Lecce looked the more likely to score. Much like Vlahovic, there are probably too few games left for Paredes to make a real case for Juventus signing him on a permanent deal, but Allegri will look to harness any confidence he can from the players in his squad during the tough run-in.