Juventus should — should — claim their ninth successive Serie A title when they face Sampdoria in Turin on Sunday.
But the Old Lady — as the club is known — has lost the spring in her step that saw her dominate Italian football for the past decade.
Juventus head coach Maurizio Sarri believes his team are “physically and mentally tired” after falling to a surprise loss to Udinese, a result that denied them claiming the title on Thursday night.
With a six-point lead before the Udinese upset, Juventus needed just one win to clinch the title with three rounds remaining.
Cristiano Ronaldo and co looked to have secured the Scudetto when Matthijs de Ligt gave his side the lead, but Ilija Nestorovski and Seko Fofana ruined Juventus’s party as Udinese won the match 2-1.
“We lost order, even after the draw, because we wanted to win at all costs. In this way we took the game to a dangerous level, and after the 90th minute, we lost it,” Sarri said. “In this period we are physically and mentally tired, and it is a problem common to all. For this reason, being aggressive is something more tiring and, therefore, now what matters most is order, because the inertia of a game changes very easily. It is difficult to keep it throughout the match and sometimes, like today, we lose it.”
Juventus are still in contention in the Champions League, and they play their second leg fixture against Lyon on August 7. They trail the French side 1-0 after the opening tie.
“At the moment I am not thinking about the Champions League, in my mind there is only Sampdoria and Sunday’s match: we have to be on the ball, and then we’ll think about the cup,” said Sarri.
As the Old Lady looks tired, maybe the time has come to let their ‘old man’ depart. Ronaldo has struggled for form recently and rumours are rife that he is looking for a return to England and the Premier League — possibly with Chelsea.
The old traits and strops are back for the Portuguese star, stomping around like a spoilt child when things are not going his way. We saw it at Manchester United and Real Madrid shorly before his departures from England and Spain. It seems another move is on the cards, and that may be beneficial to Juve, as he doesn't come cheap.