As the Bianconeri try to fight volatility, another wasted opportunity to close the gap up top went begging as Brescia proved again, much like they did against Inter, that they do not deserve their current league standing. On Wednesday night, their first-half performance restricted Juventus to defending whilst they carved out one beautiful opportunity after another – only lacking that clinical finish. They gained this great privilege by overcoming Juve’s midfield, void of quality on the night except the great Claudio Marchisio. Alberto Aquilani was not able to contribute in the ways we have grown accustomed to and completely vanished in the second-half whilst Momo Sissoko was often caught out of position leaving the defence without the necessary cover. As for Marco Motta, it was a night to forget. Yet despite Juventus covering more space and retaining more possession, Brescia dribbled better, were more accurate with their long passes and achieved another crucial point.
Juventus have struggled with consistency post Calciopoli and this year they have suffered the most when it comes to winning back-to-back league fixtures. Judging by their performance against Milan, we can only construe that this has nothing to do with the quality of the players but rather a question of mental attitude. Against the Rossoneri, the Old Lady needed to regain her pride to prove that she is still a big player in the league and had every player fighting for the ball or cheering on from the sidelines. They achieved that important win that will be remembered for the whole season, but their performance against Brescia made it seem that the team is only interested in the battles and indifferent to fighting a war. Each match is worth three points and perhaps it would have been better to lose the battle in order to have lessened the war injuries and conserve their energy for the multitude of fixtures that have come their way since.
Is it fair to call them inconsistent when this is perhaps the most competitive season ever in Serie A in recent years, and they have been suffering from an increasing number of injuries? On the one hand, yes, you can blame them as the team deployed against Brescia were more experienced and better than their counterparts. The Bianconeri should understand that playing for such Juve means taking part in a heavy schedule in which each match warrants a win. Juventus do not only look for talent, they look for mental strength and an innate ability to engage in war all year round – not only big fixtures warrant total concentration.
Consistency has been Juve’s problem in recent times but it is especially bad at present. Whilst they come with guns blazing against the big sides, the points wasted against the smaller sides restricts their potential. At present, the Bianconeri have only managed to win two consecutive domestic fixtures and currently lie in fifth place with 19 points. This time last year, the team had accrued 24 points while the year before they achieved 21. Effectively this is a poor start to the campaign and if they maintain this average of points per match then they will finish with 65 points. Based on last season, that is not enough to achieve a place in the top four, as Sampdoria edged Palermo last season by gaining 67 points.
So what is it about this shiny new Juventus that makes them unreliable in maintaining steadiness? Well for one, everything about this club is new and as such teething problems have to be expected when you have asked a new set of players to gel with each other at lightning speed. Secondly, due to heavy schedules, the absence of cup tied players for certain games and recent injuries, the starting XI have not had the opportunity to develop at a reasonable pace as the team is constantly changing. That is perhaps why José Mourinho refuses to partake in squad rotation at Real Madrid – he wants his starting XI to understand everything about one another at the risk of exhaustion. Thirdly, the average age of the squad is considered young for Serie A and it takes mental maturity to stay consistent throughout an entire season. That means closing down a game quickly without leaving your fate in the hands of defenders.
On the other hand, as mentioned in the last Club Focus, this team has already achieved more than what many expected of them at the start of the season. Just as they started to find their rhythm, they lost the players that could make the difference in different areas of the pitch. Sometimes, you need a little piece of magic to win games, and you need the individual champions to make the difference – individuals that Juventus cannot boast this very instant. Although one could argue that the Del Neri has begun to find consistency as Juve lost two of their first four games, yet are undefeated in their last seven. So are they simply unlucky or is it a question of mental weakness?