Overall team grade: C (barely acceptable but with some contributing factors)
The team’s performance level dipped significantly in the most recent match against Fiorentina. This makes it hard to rate individual players as they all depend on each other to perform. The team gets a lower grade than the players as the whole was less than sum of its parts.
Fan pulse: While there are several mitigating factors that can help explain the insipid performance, a check on the fan pulse (on our chat groups and social media) suggests that post-match emotions ranged from anger to digust to hopelessless to indifference and calmness to name a few. In particular, many fans seem concerned about the upcoming match against Atlético Madrid. Without putting too much emphasis on one match (and also keeping in mind that teams can and do raise their game for big matches), some fans’ reaction may seem somewhat exaggerated and maybe even bordering on hysterical, it is still an interesting exercise to examine what did not work out optimally. Doing so in a disciplined manner enables and furthers discourse, while visceral reactions – not to negate the importance of emotions – may cause us to get carried away.
- The state of the pitch: This did not seem to bother Fiorentina as much as us.
- The weather: Not really an excuse in my book as professional athletes are expected to be able to perform across a reasonable range of weather conditions.
- The injuries: One of the two biggest factors affecting the team’s play against Fiorentina. This forced Sarri’s hand early, tied up him hands tactically, and ate up substitutions. Perhaps the biggest concern over the coming weeks would be Douglas Costa missing a few important matches.
- Champions League: The other big factor impacting Juve’s performance is that the team is in preparation, mentally and physically, for the Atlético match already. With one eye on the upcoming fixture and the team’s fitness levels, it makes sense that Juve’s ability and desire to press Fiorentina declined substantially over the course of the match.
Szczęsny (B): Did what he needed to do and was generally solid, with the exception of a couple of early nervous moments
Alex Sandro (B+): One of Juve’s better performers, even though a little subpar compared to his recent performances
De Ligt (B): An improved performance after a nervy start following a difficult match against Napoli
Bonucci (B+): Good day’s work at the office for Bonucci, who seems to be making a real effort to be the backbone of the defense in Chiellini’s absence
Danilo (B): A reasonable performance with some areas for improvement
Cuadrado (B): Nothing really stood out, good or bad
Matuidi (B-): Some poor touches, but work rate was there as expected
Pjanic (B): A regular Pjanic performance with the occasional error
Bentancur (B-): Not bad for first match of the season, but was a little undisciplined in his tackling
Khedira (B): Yet another one of the many average performers
Douglas Costa (NR)
Bernadeschi (B-): A little disappointing – as were most of the players; however, this was his chance to make a claim for a place in the side
Ronaldo (B): A pretty uneventful outing for him with minimal service
Higuain (B): Same as Ronaldo