Ronaldo knew Juventus were a mess when he left

Carlo Garganese

Just three games into the new Serie A season and Juventus are already in a full-blown crisis.

Italy’s biggest club have taken just one point from their first three Serie A games and they could find themselves in the relegation zone by the time the matchday is over on Monday evening.

The Bianconeri endured a miserable 2020-21 campaign under novice coach Andrea Pirlo as their quest for 10 Scudetti in a row ended at the hands of Antonio Conte’s Inter.

Juve finished fourth in Serie A and only qualified for the Champions League because Napoli failed to beat Verona at home on the last day.

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It was hoped that the return of coach Max Allegri – who won five Scudetti on the bounce in his first spell – after two years away would resurrect Juventus.

However, Allegri has had a miserable return to life in the Turin hotseat.

Juventus’ summer transfer market was underwhelming. They made an excellent signing in Sassuolo’s Manuel Locatelli but failed to strengthen any other areas of their first team.

And, worst of all, Cristiano Ronaldo demanded to leave the club just four days before the transfer window closed.

This left Allegri and the club in the lurch as they didn’t have time to adequately replace him, despite the return of Moise Kean from Everton.

The results and performances have been disastrous. A 2-2 draw at Udinese was followed by a humiliating 1-0 home defeat to newly-promoted Empoli before the international break. And then on Saturday, Juventus lost 2-1 at Napoli.

Allegri struggling

The Bianconeri have no identity or cohesion and three weeks into the season, Allegri still has no idea what formation or starting line-up to use. He has already used four different systems.

When Allegri joined, there were some questions asked over whether his football was too negative. These concerns have been justified thus far. Against Napoli, Juve had just 31% possession. They boasted only 51% and 52%, respectively, against Udinese and Empoli.

Allegri, although he was missing six first-team players against Napoli, needs to be far more ambitious and aggressive. Defending with a deep line and then counter-attacking generally doesn’t work in 2021, so Allegri may need to reinvent himself a touch.

But it is also true that this is a Juventus team in transition. While the Bianconeri possess some outstanding youngsters such as Federico Chiesa, Matthijs De Ligt and Locatelli, there are also a lot of ageing players and numerous gaps and weak-links in the squad.

The midfield, for the fourth year in a row at least, continues to be a huge problem. With the exception of Locatelli (and perhaps Arthur if he can get himself fit), none of the other midfielders have proven themselves to be at Juventus’ level.

There are compatibility problems with some players seemingly unable to coexist with others; the best example being Paulo Dybala who struggles to play in systems with orthodox wingers. This is a damning indictment on the transfer chiefs and the way they have built – or failed to build – the squad over recent years.

There is a lack of depth. Against Napoli, Juventus were forced to play Mattia De Sciglio and Luca Pellegrini at full-back. The fourth-choice centre-back if Daniele Rugani.

Szczesny a disaster

Wojciech Szczesny, Napoli v Juventus, 2020-21

Wojciech Szczesny, Napoli v Juventus, 2020-21

Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has been catastrophic in 2021 and has already made three errors leading to goals this season for Juve, as well as one for Poland. Juventus haven’t kept a clean sheet for 17 games now.

And then, of course, there is the question over who will score the goals this season with Ronaldo gone.

As it stands, a top four place can’t be taken for granted. Juventus really are that much of a mess and Ronaldo knew it so he demanded to rejoin Man Utd.