Juventus’ Argentine striker Paulo Dybala vies with Chelsea’s English midfielder Callum Hudson-Odoi during the Uefa Champions League Group H football match at Stamford Bridge in London, November 23, 2021. — AFP pic
ROME, Nov 24 — Juventus have come in for fierce criticism after being outclassed in a 4-0 defeat by Chelsea yesterday, their heaviest loss in 17 years and worst in the Champions League.
The Italians surrendered top spot in Group H with a whimper in London, as the Premier League side made short work of their beleaguered opponents.
The result made unwanted history for the Turin club, surpassing 4-1 defeats by Bayern Munich in the 2009-10 group stage and Real Madrid in the 2016-17 final to become their heaviest defeat in Europe’s elite club competition.
It was the Old Lady’s biggest loss in all competitions since a 4-0 Serie A defeat by AS Roma in Feb. 2004.
The headline of Turin-based newspaper Tuttosport read “Shameless” and called Juventus “unwatchable.”
Gazzetta dello Sport said: “You can lose to Chelsea, but not like this… not being humiliated from the first minute to the last.” La Repubblica called it “an evening of profound regression and humiliation.”
It was not just the newspapers that went in hard, as Juventus greats also chimed in. All-time top-scorer Alessandro Del Piero said: “Little can be salvaged from a night like this.”
Former midfielder Alessio Tacchinardi added: “This team takes two steps forward and then 10 backwards.”
Former Bianconeri coach Fabio Capello said it was “a real lesson in football” and suggested the result was indicative of Italian teams’ struggles in Europe, with no Serie A side having won the Champions League since Inter Milan in 2009-10.
“Maybe we need to learn from the German coaches to play a more aggressive game. If we do not change our ways, it’ll be difficult to reach certain levels,” he added.
Sign of the times
Juventus are Italy’s most successful club, with 36 league titles, but their Stamford Bridge collapse underlined the club’s regression in recent years.
Maurizio Sarri led Juve to Serie A glory in 2019-20 but was sacked after a Champions League last-16 exit to Olympique Lyonnais.
His successor, the inexperienced Andrea Pirlo, lasted one season after going out to Porto at the same stage in Europe, and squeezing into fourth place on the final day of the league season.
It was hoped that Allegri’s return as coach, two years after he departed with five consecutive league titles to his name, would restore pride, but Juve have started the campaign poorly.
They are eighth in Serie A after 13 rounds, having suffered embarrassing defeats to Empoli, Hellas Verona and Sassuolo.
Their European form was their saving grace before yesterday, as they had already qualified for the last 16 before their trip to London with a perfect four wins from four.
But few will expect this version of Juventus to get anywhere close to replicating Allegri’s feat of leading the Turin club to two Champions League finals, in 2014-15 and 2016-17.
“We know what our weaknesses are and we need to work on our limitations because we have some, it’s pointless to hide that. We’ll improve from nights like these,” Allegri said.
Juventus fans will hope he is right, as patience is starting to wear thin. — Reuters