Why times are about get incredibly hard for Juventus

Massimilliano Allegri is definitely in for a tough season with Juventus
Massimilliano Allegri is definitely in for a tough season with Juventus

Brace yourselves, if you’re a Juventus fan this weekend.

The defeat to Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League might be the start of a downslide. And it couldn’t come at a worse time, with AS Roma visiting the Old Lady this weekend.

The loss at the Vicente Calderon broke Juve’s undefeated record this season, in all competitions. It was also the first goal they’ve conceded in a little over 500 minutes of football played. And it was the first time since 2006 that Juve failed to record a single shot on target in Europe. This weekend, if they approach the match against Roma the same way they did in Madrid, they can kiss the thought of a 100% winning streak in the Serie A this season goodbye too.

You may argue that the loss was against last season’s finalist in the Champions League, a team of a different pedigree in Europe, compared to a domestic opposition like Roma. Or that Rudi Garcia approaches a match differently compared to Diego Simeone. Or that the Roma team this season contrasts to Atleti’s.

But all these pose a different set of problems for Massimiliano Allegri.

Against Atleti, Juve had to endure a tight and fierce game. In Roma, the Old Lady should expect an opponent with more pace. Juventus should be counting their lucky stars that Roma will be missing Daniele De Rossi and Kevin Strootman for the visit to Turin. Instead, they will have to deal with the combo of Radja Nainggolan, Seydou Keita and Miralem Pjanic. That’s not in any way implying they’re easier to break down or dominate. But they have contributed in 4 of the 7 victories overall.

If Stephan Lichtsteiner found it difficult to contain Arda Turan, which resulted in the winning goal for Atleti, he’ll have another thing coming against the Romans. That is, if the Swiss keeps his place in the side at all for the upcoming match. This season Rudi Garcia has rotated between Adam Ljajic, Gervinho and Alessandro Florenzi on the left, spoiled for choice over who works best with the Belgian Nainggolan.

vidalDespite dominating the match against Atleti in passes and possession, Juve could not see past a dogged Atletico side. They tried, and it resulted in 28 fouls committed by the visitors. Atleti’s most accurate passer on the night was Turan. Juve’s were their back 3 of Chiellini, Caceres and Bonucci. Koke had 73 touches of the ball, the highest for Atleti. That pales in comparison to Chiellini’s 108. But it’s a fair reflection of the kind of match it was for both sides. Captain Gianluigi Buffon hit the nail on the head when he said his team needed to be more adventurous. And I wouldn’t necessarily read too much into that as a dig at his manager’s cautious approach to the game.

In the Serie A, both clubs are neck and neck after only 5 matches. The club from the capital is slightly ahead of Juve in terms of successful and accurate passing – by just 2%. The Bianconeri meanwhile leads in shot accuracy by 5%. But Garcia’s men lead in the number of defensive interceptions and blocked shots.

Perhaps that is how things will be decided between these two throughout the season, starting with the duel over the weekend. It’s in the individual that runs riot against his peer or the miscalculated tackle that will gift 3 points to the opponent. It won’t need anything significant to tell them apart because it’s not that Juve have slid a notch or two down this season, it’s because Roma have eventually caught up.

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