The goals conceded in bursts by both are a sign of a malaise that goes beyond physical condition. Here’s what’s happening to the two big names
Twenty-five goals in eight games: if teams fighting for salvation get them, it’s almost impossible they’ll be able to avoid Serie B. What if Milan and Juventus collect them? It is almost unbelievable: come on, how is this possible? Instead, it is. The Rossoneri won the Scudetto above all for their defensive strength: they conceded 31 goals in 38 days, nobody did better; in the construction phase, on the contrary, three teams were more effective. Yet now, back there, Pioli’s team has melted away. So much so that in the last four official matches she has fallen fourteen times, with a disturbing escalation: two with Lecce, three with Inter in the Super Cup, four with Lazio, five with Sassuolo (a historic blow). Until next time there’s another derby… Then there’s Juve, who between 2022 and 2023 won eight games without conceding a goal: almost a record, certainly a feat. Then she went to Naples, was overwhelmed by five goals and never recovered: she took one from Monza in the Italian Cup, three from Atalanta, two more yesterday from Monza itself.
The problem for Milan and Juve isn’t just the defense and it’s not just the defenders, of course: the faults are (also) with the team. But the mistakes of individuals are amazing. Pioli has unrecognizable players everywhere, but especially in that department: Kalulu and Tomori (absent yesterday), Theo and Calabria look like different – very different – twins than they were last season. The feeling is that the collapse is not only tactical and technical, but also physical: the Frenchman came back destroyed by the World Cup, which sucked all his energy; the captain lost his speed and this was evident against Sassuolo. As for Allegri, one had the feeling that his Juve were performing a small, great miracle: constantly changing men in the three in defense, deploying anyone based on injuries and fatigue, resisting in any case without conceding a goal. From Danilo to Bremer, from Alex Sandro to Rugani, from the run-down Bonucci to Gatti, from Szczesny to Perin, everyone took turns in the rearguard, and for eight matches with surprising effectiveness. However, the magic is over: patatrac.
But Milan and Juve have not only lost their defence, but also their heads, or at least their serenity. They convey an idea of insecurity, of precariousness, of fear. As if those seemingly insurmountable armies – the Rossoneri of last season and the Bianconeri of eight consecutive victories – had suddenly realized that they had gone beyond their limits, to the point of playing with the fear of those who have been unmasked. Kings are naked. Now that everyone has realized who we are, how do we hide our limits? Certainly the market didn’t help Pioli, on the contrary: the summer had to bring reinforcements, instead Milan turned out to be worse than last season having lost Kessie and hired a series of players who have not given anything so far: De Ketelaere, Thiaw, Dest, Vranckx, Adli, Origi (we will remember him for the wonderful goal against Sassuolo, on 5-1…). Juve’s speech is different, on a mental level we mean. Di Maria said after the defeat against Monza: “It’s not easy to play with the burden of minus 15”. Even someone like him, navigated by a thousand battles, is lost in front of the penalty. Yes, because it is normal, human we would say, for a Juventus player to take the field today wondering: what am I playing for? For the Champions League, for the Europa League or for salvation? Won’t everything I conquered in the championship already finished be overturned? And, above all, will I decide my fate or will it be the judges and UEFA? The unprepared player gives himself the answer: no, it won’t be me. And so it is inevitable that he is disbanded, uncertain, hesitant. It is sacrosanct that sports justice take his course, God forbid. But it is right to allow Allegri’s players the extenuating circumstances of uncertainty.
January 30, 2023 (change January 30, 2023 | 00:13)
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