Juventus did enough in their Round of 16 Europa League first leg tie against Freiburg, defeating the German club 1-0 on Thursday evening, but questions must be raised about the effectiveness of Dusan Vlahovic in attack.
It was a match in which the Bianconeri dominated and should have won comfortably, but inaccurate shooting was La Vecchia Signora’s greatest issue. However, Vlahovic’s inability to link up effectively with teammates should also present a concern for Juve tactician Massimiliano Allegri.
Filip Kostic supplied the cross for Angel Di Maria to score the only goal of the match in the 53rd minute. The Bianconeri had a brief scare when Lucas Holer thought he had equalised for the Germans, but a VAR review detected a handball from Mattias Ginter so the goal was disallowed.
The Juventus motto may be “conta solo vincere” or “winning is the only thing that counts”, but a more comprehensive scoreline would have made things easier for the second leg and the lack of a prolific scorer should be of concern.
Vlahovic fires blanks again up front
Looking lackadaisical in his approach and lacking in mobility whenever he moved, it was not a memorable performance for Vlahovic against Freiburg. His best chance was from a free-kick in the first half that was saved by Mark Flekken, otherwise the Serbian striker posed little of a threat going forward.
The 23-year-old has scored just three goals in nine competitive matches in 2023 with two of them coming in a 3-0 victory against Salernitana in Serie A. Given his ineffectiveness against the club from the Black Forest, Allegri decided to replace the Serbia international in the 67th minute with Federico Chiesa.
Whether it is a lack of confidence, injury woes, or the inability to fit into Allegri’s system, Vlahovic has struggled to justify Juve’s decision to pay a reported figure of €70 million for his services.
Grifo lacks adequate support against Juventus
Italy international Vincenzo Grifo was the main source of inspiration for Freiburg against Juventus but he had little support around him in Turin.
It was his free-kick from the left flank which eventually lead to Holer putting the ball into the net before the VAR review reversed the decision, and he came close to scoring with a free-kick, but it just flew over the crossbar.
The 29-year-old has four goals in eight appearances for Italy so if his teammates at Freiburg can support him more and he plays an inspirational role in the second leg, Azzurri coach Roberto Mancini will have more reason to choose him.