The radios of Turin spread the joke of the Torino fans, this Thursday on the gray and rainy morning of Piedmont. Juventus, they said, was no longer The old woman. After being eliminated for the third consecutive year in the round of 16 of the Champions League, her nickname was Octavia.
The festival of the 40,000 Juventus fans who made a pilgrimage to the stadium to witness the rebirth of their team was closed dry. Transformed from the 80th minute into the small party that stirred up the dozens of Villarreal fans gathered in the fenced corner. Led by Danjuma, the players left the locker room in flip flops, crossed the field and went to dance in front of the choir that greeted them singing in the stands. The 0-3 (4-1 on aggregate in the tie) deserved no less.
Andrea Agnelli, the president of Juventus, trident of the secessionist project of the Super League together with Florentino Pérez and Joan Laporta, watched the scene with a tense gesture from the box. He smoked and, perhaps, thought that the Champions League is too cruel to the rich and too generous to the hard-working like Villarreal, who would never have had a place in the Super League, at least in its original version, which is the only one known. . The 100 million euros in transfers invested this winter, mainly in Vlahovic, had not served to overcome the club from a town in Castellón with as many inhabitants as fans fit in the Juventus Stadium.
At the foot of the field, the Juventus players paraded like television penitents on television. “The coach told us to move the ball to create spaces but they were well organized and closed and didn’t let us”, said Cuadrado, in perfect Italian. “So we were only able to hang centers.”
The coach that Cuadrado was referring to was Massimiliano Allegri, the man on whose head the elimination weighed, Juve’s third coach in three seasons after Sarri and Pirlo, a sign of the incoherent turns that the institution takes in search of defining itself footballingly.
Arrigo Sacchi, dean of Italian coaches who are committed to innovation in stagnant football, pointed out that the elimination is the consequence of a retrograde project that has nothing to do with what launched Italy towards the conquest of the last European Championship. “To go far in Europe you need more,” said Sacchi in La Gazzetta dello Sport. “Much more than what Juventus and Villarreal proposed. It was a very tactical game, with little emotion, little rhythm and little pressure. The two thought mainly of not conceding goals. Soccer is not this. I am convinced that a step backwards has been taken. If there is no innovation, courage and knowledge, you cannot think of playing well. And in this game I saw no innovation, no courage, no knowledge. Juve seemed to leave the path of italianism. But when you behave in one way for 30 days, on the 31st you will do the same as the other 30.
For weeks, the Juventus captains propagated the idea that if Chelsea had won the last Champions League practicing something comparable to cattentionthat meant that this tournament was open to second-tier teams. “The Champions League is not always won by the best”, said Chiellini hopefully, as if this would open a door to mediocrity.
The result was a deadlocked tie between two teams that chose to avoid aggression and let time pass. Juventus finished off 14 times for the Spanish team eight. But as almost always happens in these cases, the chances of the game determined the winner when Rugani miscalculated and took a penalty on Coquelin. Two secondary actors were decisive. “We had some luck,” admitted Emery, the winner of a tactical game that placed Villarreal in the third quarter of the Champions League in its history and plunged Juventus into the abyss of a crisis that does not stop.
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