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Juventus continue disappointing form with narrow PSG defeat

Juventus succumbed to a narrow 2-1 loss against Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, continuing their underwhelming start to the season.
Image Credits: Yoan Valat / EPA-EFE

Juventus succumbed to a narrow 2-1 loss against Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, continuing their underwhelming start to the season.

PSG's first-half dominance was enough, as Kylian Mbappe bagged a sublime brace as the Bianconeri struggled to get into the game in the opening 45 minutes. Weston McKennie halved the deficit in the second-half, and Juve were much more solid overall, even posing some danger to Christophe Galtier's side, which is seen as one of the favourites to win the competition this season.

While this is only Juve's first defeat of the season, it has been coming for a while, as they have so far failed to impress.

Juventus are one of four sides yet to lose in Serie A this season, and while they have conceded just two league goals, they have also only scored on seven occasions. This might not seem too bad, but their performances as a whole have been fragmented and extremely inconsistent.

The 1-1 draws against AS Roma and Fiorentina in particular were disappointing. Fiorentina dominated Juve and were desperately unlucky not to get the win, as Mattia Perin put on some heroics to get the point for the Bianconeri. While Juventus were the better team against Roma, the performance as a whole wasn't convincing, with them having to rely on a piece of brilliance from Dusan Vlahovic for the draw.

The PSG game highlighted the absolute gulf in class between the two sides, especially in midfield, where Juve were lacklustre, sluggish and sloppy in and out of possession.

This was also coupled with some truly strange decisions from Massimiliano Allegri, particularly that of taking off Arkadiusz Milik for Manuel Locatelli. The Polish striker was proving to be a valuable outlet for Juve, particularly through his aerial threat, combining well with Vlahovic on a number of occasions.

Locatelli is a decent player, but when he was introduced, Juve already had the likes of McKennie, Leandro Paredes, and Adrien Rabiot on the pitch, so taking off a striker for another central midfielder seemed like an odd decision to say the least. To make things worse, it isn't like the Bianconeri's midfield options are anywhere close to the famous Andrea Pirlo, Paul Pogba (before his failed move away), Claudio Marchisio, and Arturo Vidal. Most of their midfielders today are box-to-box players that have either been underwhelming, or have failed to get going so far this season.

This makes Denis Zakaria's move to Chelsea even stranger, as his presence could have allowed Paredes to push forward and show his playmaking qualities rather than having to do most of the defending against a fluid midfield of Marco Verratti and Vitinha. The fact that Zakaria was first to leave the club ahead of Rabiot for example, is shambolic to say the least, especially when it is clear that they needed a different sort of midfielder than the Frenchman.

Most of their attacks ended up coming from the wings, and while Filip Kostic and Juan Cuadrado were dangerous on certain occasions, they eventually became too predictable, with the opposing wing-backs containing them relatively well over the course of the whole game.

What seemed to be the most disheartening to Juve fans was the lack of desire and urgency to get a point from the game in the final few minutes. PSG let Juventus have the ball in the dying embers of the game, and instead of pushing forward and showing some determination to get the ball in the box, something that troubled PSG's defence throughout the whole game, Juve's midfield just passed it around the back and eventually lost it, allowing PSG to get forward and control possession and kill the game off.

While Juve weren't that great defensively, they were up against arguably the best front three in European football, so it was to be expected that Mbappe would outpace Leandro Bonucci and Neymar and Lionel Messi would run riot against Danilo and Gleison Bremer.

Allegri needs to find a solution soon, with Juve fans growing restless of the disappointing performances, as the Bianconeri have failed to kick on since his return to the side in 2021. Getting Vlahovic more into games is definitely a must, especially with the quality that Kostic and Cuadrado can provide on the wings, as well as Paredes from midfield.


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