A 3-0 defeat at the hands of fellow Champions League hopefuls A.C. Milan has left Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus sweating over their European prospects for next season.
Having already seen the Serie A title leave Turin for the first time since the 2010-11 season, Andrea Pirlo’s side latest defeat has seen them drop to fifth place, with only the top four sides qualifying for the UEFA Champions League.
A point out of contention with three games left to play, Juventus travel to in-form Sassuolo, before hosting newly-crowned champions Inter Milan and ending their season away to Bologna.
Problems continue for Juventus
The defeat to AC Milan was Juventus’ sixth of the season, one fewer than their title-winning campaign of 2019-20. What has hurt them most, however, is the nine draws that the club has recorded, which is the most since the 2014-15 season (in which they also drew nine games). The results have left the traditional Italian superpower well behind Inter Milan, and just behind AC Milan, Atalanta and Napoli.
Whilst Juventus face an uphill struggle to qualify for Champions League football, they will take solace from the fact that 2nd placed Atalanta face 3rd placed AC Milan on the final day of the season, and will hope that they will be able to take advantage of the outcome of that result.
By their lofty standards, Juventus have endured a poor season, with the Coppa Italia the only trophy left for Cristiano Ronaldo and co. to compete for. They will contest the final against Atalanta before the final game of the season, but it will not offer them an alternative route into the Champions League.
A last chance of silverware will do little to save the blushes of The Old Lady, who last missed out on Champions League football in the 2011-12 season. Failure to make UEFA’s premier and most lucrative competition would be a huge blow to a side that have already posted financial losses of €113.7 million for the 2020-21 campaign, and would surely see the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala and Mathias De Ligt raising question marks over their futures in Turin.
Here’s the updated League Table! 📊
— Lega Serie A (@SerieA_EN) May 9, 2021
Pirlo vows to carry on:
Despite their poor campaign, Andrea Pirlo has resolved to fight on for the foreseeable future. Speaking to Sky Sports after the heavy defeat, the ex-Juventus and AC Milan midfielder said:
“Resign? No, I won’t step aside. I took this role with a great deal of enthusiasm amid certain difficulties. I am at the disposal of the club, there are still three games to go, so I will continue doing my work as long as I am allowed to.
“I had a different project in my mind and thought I would have a different group at my disposal. I had been working on some concepts, but then I had to make changes in order to suit their characteristics and had to adapt.
“It’s not that this team is resistant to change, but if you have some things in your mind and they become more difficult with certain players. If I cannot get the best out of these players, that is my fault and I certainly need to do better.
“If something didn’t go right, I take responsibility. This squad is made up of great players, clearly something did not work.”
Where next for Juve?
It is not unfair to suggest that the future of Juventus hinges on the future of talisman Cristiano Ronaldo.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all-time, the Portuguese forward has continued to provide a strong return, leading the Serie A goalscoring charts with 27 so far this season. At 36 years old, however, how long he can maintain his fantastic goalscoring record remains to be seen, and his departure would leave a huge void for Juventus to fill.
At the back too, there are problems: Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny has been error-prone this campaign, whilst three of the back-four that started the defeat to AC Milan were over 30 years old.
This summer has the potential to be hugely important for the future of the Italian club, with the side being linked to the likes of Eduardo Camavinga and Erling Haaland. What they can achieve in the transfer market, however, will hinge on whether they can find a way to make it back into the Champions League next season.
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