Juventus’ stunning extra-time Champions League defeat to Porto leaves them searching for answers both on and off the field.
When the Old Lady signed Cristiano Ronaldo back in the summer of 2018, it was done with one goal in mind – to win the Champions League.
It was a move to help the club reach the top of the mountain.
After all, Ronaldo had just won four Champions League titles in five years with Real Madrid and Juventus had lost their previous two final appearances in 2015 and 2017.
But now, three years after signing Ronaldo, the Old Lady has been dumped out of Europe again by what is an weaker team on paper. In 2019, they succumbed to Ajax. In 2020, they fell to Lyon.
And last night, they were dumped out of the Champions League by Porto, who played the majority of the second half and all of extra time with 10 men.
So where has it all gone wrong for the Bianconeri, and how have they found themselves on the end of another poor European campaign.
Recent years in Turin have been somewhat tumultuous when it comes to the managers dugout.
During the ‘Ronaldo era’, Juventus has had three managers in as many years; Massimiliano Allegri, Maurizio Sarri and Andrea Pirlo.
Before Ronaldo’s arrival, they had just two managers over the course of eight years– Allegri and Antonio Conte, whose Inter Milan currently sit top of Serie A.
When Pirlo was appointed Juventus manager after a brief stint with the U23s in the summer of 2020, eyebrows were raised.
Despite his legendary playing career, there was no evidence that he would be able to guide Juventus to the promised land given his lack of managerial experience.
Out of Europe and 10-points behind leaders Inter – a competition they are expected to win – it would be fair to say that Pirlo’s first foray into senior management has been underwhelming at best.
While they have reached the final of the Coppa Italia, it is clear thar Pirlo is still learning his trade.
With almost no managerial experience at the highest level, it is obvious that he requires time to be able to grow into that role.
The issue however, is that this is Juventus – a club that does not have the luxury of time on their side given Ronaldo’s age.
By the time his deal ends next summer, Ronaldo will be 37 and there are no guarantees that he will remain in peak physical condition.
Juventus were supposed to be in win now mode when they signed him in 2018.
But ultimately, it seems as though Ronaldo’s arrival at the club has coincided with a weakening of the overall squad.
While Juventus still possessed star power under both Conte and Allegri, they were ultimately a better overall team.
When Allegri took over from Conte in 2014, he managed to guide Juventus to the Champions League final in 2015 and 2017 where they unfortunately ran into two Spanish buzzsaws in Barcelona and Real Madrid.
These teams did not revolve solely around a single individual. They were a cohesive team and neither Conte or Allegri had an individual in their side as dominant as Ronaldo.
That is not to suggest that Ronaldo has not performed individually for Juventus. During his time in Turin, he has scored a whopping 92 goals in 120 games for the Old Lady.
However, there has been something lost in the process of facilitating Ronaldo – in essence, the club has almost lost its identity to the detriment of the team.
When Juventus bought Ronaldo, they did so to win the Champions League. Since his arrival, they have not managed to get past the quarter-final stage.
Ultimately, Juventus’ latest Champions League defeat leaves them searching for answers to a test that Ronaldo has been so far unable to help them solve.