Well, it’s hard not to enjoy watching Juventus shovel this particular cold, sludgy humble pie down their oesophagus, isn’t it?
Andrea Agnelli is tied with Florentino Perez as the most hated man in football right now, and his public views on how the sport should be run were so despicable that they forced Manchester United supporters to storm their own stadium in rage.
The Bianconeri owner believes that the top teams in Europe should be shielded from failure, and should never fear the consequences of a poor season. He wanted – and wants – to create a closed competition, invite only to the clubs ready to bring the big bucks.
Fortunately, the rest of football agreed that this idea was f***ing terrible, and forced this little man to back down. Now, he’s facing the twistiest of twists of fate, as he stares into the eyes of the monster he truly fears: The Europa League.
Agnelli has taken Juve from Champions League finalists to the brink of Europe’s secondary club competition, and that’s with a squad that contains €31m-a-year Cristiano Ronaldo. His corner-cutting antics have finally caught up with this team, who now sit a point outside of the top four with three games remaining.
Who would have thought that trying to sign loads of free transfers on massive wages like Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot was actually a bad idea? Oh yeah, most of us. The great, karmic moment arrived on Sunday night however, when Juve hosted Milan in a fight to the death – AKA, a fight to avoid Europa League football.
Andrea Pirlo’s side conjured nothing over the 90 minutes, and were outfought, outplayed, out-thought and by the end of the night, out of the top four. The warning signs have been there all season, but they were as clear as day on Sunday evening.
This Juve side is not good enough, and if they don’t finish the season in the top four, then they certainly don’t deserve to compete in the Champions League – no matter how much money they throw at the situation.
Milan showed incredible team spirit to destroy the former champions, picking them off with blistering pace out wide in Theo Hernandez, and the trickery of Brahim Diaz and Hakan Calhanoglu through the middle. It was as efficient a performance as you could imagine, and that even included Franck Kessie missing a penalty at 1-0.
Despite that lifeline, Juventus continued to play like a team that hadn’t heard the news that the Super League had been binned, and were content to coast through the 90 minutes, free of consequences or repercussions.
Well, the reality is far worse for Agnelli and his stars. They thought they’d be entering the 2021/22 season as Italian champions, with the luxury of this brand new competition awaiting them, where their owner would sit top of the tree.
An elite club for the elite clubs.
Instead, they face the financially crushing prospect of entering next season having lost their crown, and as well as having no Super League, they may not even have the Champions League to fall back on – a competition they were so quick to abandon only weeks ago.
You’re allowed to feel a shred of sympathy for the supporters, of course. They didn’t ask for this. But the thought of Ronaldo playing out the final year of his contract in the Europa League, having been signed for €100m to win the top prize in European football?
Well, that’s just *chef’s kiss*.