Tuttosport boldly wrote on its front page: “Has anyone seen Juve?” La Gazzetta dello Sport and Corriere dello Sport also toed the same line, both captioning their banner headlines: “Juve caught offside.”
The newspaper headlines may sound harsh, but the fact is that Juventus were totally appalling against Barcelona during Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League game.
For a side that has invested so much in recent years with the aim of conquering Europe, their performance was nothing to write home about. Barcelona had them figured out from the beginning, and didn’t feel threatened even once throughout the match.
The Catalan giants completely dominated the game, with Ousmane Dembele and Lionel Messi scoring to seal a very comfortable win.
Juventus haven’t been themselves since the beginning of the season and their woes have been compounded by the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, who is currently ruled out after testing positive for COVID-19.
The Portuguese is undoubtedly the talismanic figure in Andrea Pirlo’s team and his absence has been greatly felt. The Italian giants have won just one of the four games that he has missed so far.
Against Barcelona, the Bianconeri lacked attacking potency and just couldn’t find a way past the Blaugrana's shaky defence. With Ronaldo in the side, one of those crosses from Juan Cuadrado and Paulo Dybala would definitely have ended up in the back of the net.
Rather, the Old Lady had to rely on the inconsistent Alvaro Morata, whose biggest highlight of the game was scoring three goals that were all rightly chalked off for offside.
Morata is a decent footballer, but has never been the kind of player who can power a team when facing an elite European side like Barcelona.
After scoring three goals in just two Serie A games, Ronaldo would definitely be itching to recover quickly and return to the pitch to help his teammates.
But as it stands, Juventus have no ready-made replacement for the Portuguese and are badly struggling without him.