A new chapter in Juventus’ series of Champions League failures
For the third time in a row, Juventus crashed out of the Champions League after the first round of the playoffs, losing a duel in which they were considered absolute favorites. Apparently, it is time to deny Juve the flashy labels, since year after year the Old Lady is upset by teams from the “second tier”. Once is a fluke, twice a coincidence, three and four times a confirmed pattern. For all its rich history and yesterday’s hegemony in Serie A here and now, Juventus are not a top club by European standards.
The Turin renaissance at the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century led to numerous titles in Italy and gave rise to dreams of European domination, which in an instant became so close – just a hand out. Antonio Conte had no success in the Champions League, but his successor Massimiliano Allegri went on to storm the coveted pinnacle: Juventus reached the Champions League finals twice, where they lost to the Italian giants, and in the earlier stages they fell to Bayern and Real Madrid, losing by one goal or extra time.
2018/19. Sensational Ajax forced Juve and Ronaldo to capitulate
Before the 2018/19 season, Juventus’ league-championship ambitions only intensified as the Italian giant signed Cristiano Ronaldo, the main Champions League darling of current players, who has lifted the lugo five times and confidently led the tournament’s all-time scoring list. The Portuguese really reminded himself in the 1/8 final when Juve made an inspiring comeback against Atletico Madrid, winning 3-0 after a 0-2 defeat in Madrid. Cristiano scored a hat trick.
However, Juventus were already in the quarter-finals in a sullen disappointment. Ronaldo opened the scoring in both games against Ajax, but the nimble Amsterdam side had a decent response each time: the first leg ended 1-1, and in Turin the home side lost 1-2. “Ajax were second to last in that draw, with Real Madrid and Juventus both on the road, and only seconds away from reaching the final, so Juve lost the biggest sensation of the draw. Who doesn’t? However, the following seasons showed that it was no fluke.
2019/20. “Lyon” started Juventus’ series of exits after the 1/8 finals
In the last five Champions League draws, Juventus have won only two playoff encounters – against Tottenham (2017/18) and Atletico (2018/19). For three seasons now, they have not been able to get past the 1/8 finals stage, with Juve winning the group and getting a passable opponent in the first round of the playoffs in each of the three cases.
“Lyon” did not accept the role of the victim and began the duel with a 1-0 home victory. The return match was not played until six months later due to a covid lockdown, but even there things did not go according to plan: Memphis Depay opened the scoring with a penalty kick as early as the 12th minute. Cristiano Ronaldo converted a double, but it was not enough: the away goal rule was still in force and Lyon went on.
2020/21. “Porto survived in extra time at Juventus Stadio
A seemingly “edible” opponent again and again a defeat in the first match, with Juventus losing 0-2 at the Dragaou until the 82nd minute when Federico Chiesa scored that all-important goal. In Turin, Chiesa scored a double in response to Sergio Oliveira’s goal and the showdown crawled into overtime, where the same Oliveira finished off the favorite with a controlling shot. “Juventus even managed to reply with a goal of their own, but it was not enough as the away goal rule again worked in favor of the opponent.
2021/22. “Villarreal survived to defeat Juventus.
By the way, we warned that Juventus are not that big a favorite in the duel with Villarreal, because Emery has an organized and controlled team with fresh winning experience in European Cups, albeit one floor lower: “Submariners” won the Europa League last season. “Villarreal did not let them down, the Spaniards played in the expected manner, while Juventus were quite immature.
The team of the returning coach after two years of absence of Allegri scored their only goal against Villarreal in the 32nd second of the first match. Yes, Juve had the home advantage, but their lack of goals and three conceded goals left the Old Lady dejected.
“Villarreal played with a clear awareness of strengths and weaknesses, their own and their opponent’s, resulting in a textbook victory for the underdog, kicking supposed class with their order. Allegri’s words about the opponent “choosing to fight back” sound pathetic when the scoreboard is 0-3. “Juventus should start with a sober assessment and an awareness of their real strength.