The 2015/16 campaign has been a difficult one for Juventus, the reigning Serie A champions clearly struggling to string positive results together and suffering from some seriously bad luck.
It is easy to look at the summer transfer campaign as the singular reason for their woes, but Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Carlos Tevez must be forgotten, and other factors besides their departures must be addressed.
Foremost among them is the stuttering attack. Juventus have netted just 16 league goals so far this term, with six of those coming in games against Empoli and Bologna, who sit in 13th and 16th place respectively. Alvaro Morata and Mario Mandzukic have been particularly poor, and the pressing need for coach Massimiliano Allegri to find a solution was discussed in this previous post.
That must include leading scorer Paulo Dybala, who came off the bench against Empoli to net his sixth goal in all competitions, and the striker talked up the potential of his side shortly after that encounter.
“I am just happy when I get to give my contribution and I remain concentrated always,” the 21-year-old said in an interview with Sky Italia (h/t Football Italia). “We believe we’re the strongest side in Serie A and we want to prove it.”
Sadly, their defensive record proves that is not the case, with Massimo Maccarone’s goal the 11th conceded by the Bianconeri in just 12 games. As the tweet below shows, Juve have also made a habit of allowing opponents to score from their first shot, which they must improve on if they are to climb the table:
The fact Gigi Buffon has kept just six clean sheets in 16 appearances is also difficult to comprehend, particularly as the back line has played well, only to be undone by a string of individual errors.
Andrea Barzagli lost his man to allow Frosinone to score at Juventus Stadium, Giorgio Chiellini gifted Gladbach their chance in Germany and a rare Leonardo Bonucci mistake led to Empoli’s surprise opener at the Stadio Carlo Castellani.
Furthermore, Allegri has bemoaned the number of infringements they are making, with statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com showing only three teams have committed more than Juve’s 16.5 per game.
“You win and lose games on details. We lost because of a free kick and that’s because we gave away a free kick in a position we shouldn’t have done,” Allegri told reporters after the loss to Sassuolo earlier this month, per Football Italia.
“It’s a recurring issue, as we conceded against Frosinone at the 92nd minute on a corner, here to a free kick, at Roma to a free kick,” the coach continued. That is most certainly an area they must improve, but one that should be helped by a number of players in front of the back line returning to action.
The midfield has looked much more solid since Sami Khedira and Claudio Marchisio have been selected alongside Paul Pogba, but that trio need to find some chemistry and attacking edge in order to balance the side.
Indeed, as Patrice Evra noted this past weekend, the squad must ignore the standings and focus on delivering their very best every time they step on the field. “Let’s not look at the table, the important thing is to work hard for each other and do the jersey justice,” he said per the club’s official website. “If we continue to do that then we’ll soon start to see the real Juve.”
They need to do so quickly, or they risk losing touch with the leaders and having no hope of ever catching up.