For the first time since 2010-11, the Bianconeri failed to pick up the silverware and the coach’s return prompted more questions than answers
Massimiliano Allegri’s return as coach was aimed at restoring stability to Juventus. In reality, however, this only created further uncertainty.
After Juve’s first trophyless campaign since 2010-11, the question naturally arose: is the club really moving in the right direction under the increasingly cantankerous Tuscan?
It depends a lot on who you ask.
Patrice Evra, for example, argued that Allegri deserved more time, that he ‘works miracles’ given that there is ‘no quality, especially in midfield’.
However, many other pundits, such as Christian Vieri and Daniele Adani, believe the coach failed to make the most of the talent at his disposal.
The bare minimum was of course achieved, with Juve qualifying for the Champions League via a fourth-place finish.
But the Bianconeri were beaten by Inter in the Supercoppa Italiana and Coppa Italia finals.
Worse still, they suffered yet another humiliating elimination in the Champions League Round of 16, this time against Villarreal.
The Juve season is therefore a complex campaign to define but OBJECTIVE breaks it all down below…
Player of the Season:
There is no more damning indictment of Juve’s disappointing campaign than the lack of legitimate contenders for this particular accolade.
Paulo Dybala finished as the club’s top scorer but only managed 10 goals in Serie A and 15 overall.
The mere fact that Juve decided not to renew the Argentine’s contract tells you everything you need to know about his importance for Allegri’s squad.
Giorgio Chiellini is also leaving this summer and, like Dybala, he bid farewell to the club with emotion.
As always, the captain performed admirably when he was selected but missed too many games due to injury.
It was a similar story for Manuel Locatelli, who showed plenty of promising signs but was plagued with fitness issues.
So while Wojciech Szczesny started to get back to his best form, Danilo proved a decent utility man and Juan Cuadrado continued to step up in the big moments, there’s really only one possible winner: Matthijs de Light.
The Dutch international had some questionable moments at the start of the season, but he was by far Juve’s most reliable performer and it’s not at all surprising that he’s been linked with a transfer again.
His defeat would truly be a hammer blow for the Bianconeri at the end of what has been a trying campaign.
Goal of the season:
Paulo Dybala produced characteristic left-footed finishes, while Federico Chiesa scored some superb solo strikes before his season was sorely cut short by injury.
However, Juve’s undoubted goal of the season came from Alvaro Morata, in a 2-2 draw with Lazio on May 16.
It was a move that started deep in Juve territory, with Dybala advancing down the right wing, before rolling the ball back into the path of support Juan Cuadrado.
The Colombian carried the ball forward before finding Morata wide on the left side of the box.
The Spaniard cut inside, stopped, stood on the ball and then rolled it forward, before curling it majestically into the top corner of Lazio’s net.
It was a great goal but also tinged with frustration as it showed what Morata and Juve are capable of when playing with real confidence.
Performances of the season:
Given their domestic struggles in the first half of the season, it remains remarkable to think that Juve topped their group in the Champions League.
A 1-0 win over Chelsea in Turin proved key in that regard, with Allegri’s side producing a performance full of determination and discipline.
However, they didn’t just show impressive resilience in their epic 4-3 win at Roma in January, they also played the last 20 minutes endlessly.
Juve looked dead and buried at 3-1 at the Stadio Olimpico but a few clever substitutions sparked a sensational comeback, with Locatelli and Dejan Kulusevski leveling things with two goals in three minutes.
Mattia De Sciglio then put Juve ahead but the drama was not yet over, with Szczesny saving a Lorenzo Pellegrini penalty after De Ligt picked up a second yellow card.
It was by no means a complete performance, but it played a crucial role in Juve’s season, giving them the belief they needed on a 16-game unbeaten run that eventually saw them rank among the first four with surprising ease.
Disappointment of the season:
Where to start?
Cristiano Ronaldo’s decision to leave just before the transfer window closed has hit the club hard, leaving them with insufficient time to secure anything like a worthy replacement.
Meanwhile, Chiesa’s season-ending injury was a bitter setback, depriving Juve of their most dynamic and efficient striker – even though the winger was, like many of his team-mates, oddly employed by his manager. .
Indeed, it was hard to watch Dusan Vlahovic, a €75m (£63m/$85m) signing in January, grow frustrated on his own, with the Serb’s struggles sparking debate over the approach. Allegri’s pragmatics of the game.
However, the undoubted low point of the season was the 3-0 second leg loss to Villarreal which spelled the end of Juve’s Champions League campaign.
Allegri went on the offensive afterwards, accusing those of trying to portray their exit from the last 16 as a ‘failure’ of ‘intellectual dishonesty’.
In truth, however, it felt like his “footballing legacy” moment from Jose Mourinho at Manchester United, and he was lucky to survive it.
Indeed, if Juve had been in a good enough financial position to part ways with the coach, they would certainly have done so.
Allegri and his apologists can dress him however he wants, but it’s been a hopelessly disappointing comeback so far.
Prior to the start of his second term, there was almost universal agreement that Juve might initially struggle, given their continued midfield problems and the loss of Ronaldo’s goal guarantee.
However, even taking into account the injuries to a few key players, there is simply no excuse for Juve to play such painfully defensive and outdated football.
On many occasions they have taken a small-club approach against provincial opposition, and many of their supporters have ended up either embarrassed by a narrow victory or outraged by another disgraceful loss.
Of course, Allegri will now oversee the long overdue revamp and it looks like some quality reinforcements are on the way.
But that just means massive improvement is needed in 2022-23. A repeat of 2021-22 will not be necessary.
Indeed, the best thing that can be said about last season from Juve’s perspective is that at least it’s finally over, because there were no trophies – just a lot of tears.