Juventus face defender crisis ahead of Champions League d-day

03 February at 19:15
When Papu Gomez forced Juventus ‘keeper Wojciech Szczesny to tip his long-ranged shot around the post in the mid-week Copa Italia Quarter final, Juve captain Giorgio Chiellini immediately turned to face the bench and signalled for a substitution. Few would have imagined just how badly Juventus would miss him.

Chiellini picked up a calf strain that would see him on the treatment table with both other members of the once infamous BBC. Leonardo Bonucci, ankle injury, is already expected to miss his sides critical Quarter Final clash with Atletico Madrid, while Andrea Barzagli, who has understandably seen his playing time limited at 37, has been out since December.

If that wasn’t reason alone to worry Juventus fans, since Chiellini’s early removal from Wednesdays tie, Juventus have shipped 6 goals. 3 goals in Bergamo which saw them knocked out the cup, and 3 at home to newly promoted Parma.

Juventus’ new-found leaky defence has come at the worst possible time with a trip to the Wanda Metropolitano in a fortnights time, as they search for that illusive Champions League trophy. In both games coach Massimiliano Allgeri will be furious with the manner in which his side conceded soft goals, something so uncharacteristic of this team.

Joao Cancelo, Chiellini’s replacement in Bergamo, was caught trying to dribble this way out of trouble and Castagne happily took full advantage. Duvan Zapata’s second, and Atalanta’s 3rd, of the night again came from a defensive mistake. Make-shift centre back Mattia De Sciglio gifted the Columbian with a short back pass and Zapata did not need a second invitation to finish.

The one real victim of Juventus’ BBC success has arguably been Daniele Rugani, who had been widely tipped for greatness. The Italian has turned down opportunities for regular minutes elsewhere as he believed it would be better for his development to stay in Turin, however, his lack of consistent game time was evident with his display against Parma on Saturday. Granted, the 25-year-old lined up in an unfamiliar back line with Spinazzola, new signing Martin Caceres, who re-signed from Lazio on loan, and Cancelo. However, the centre back looked all at sea when dealing with the Parma attack.

Cancelo has a tendency to forget that he is a defender from time to time and that happened again this weekend. It was his failure to track back that meant that Barilla had a free header to make it 2 - 1. Rugani then gave Gervinho a yard too much space and allowed this weak flick to softly go through him and into the net.

Parma then took advantage of a strange decision by Mandzukic to chip all the into this own box, instead of conceding a throw, as Inglese easily pushed past Rugani to set up Gervinho for his second and to ensure Parma shared the points. Juventus fans will be hoping that Chiellini is back in time for their sides trip to Spain. With Bonucci already seemingly out and their sides visible struggles without him, his injury could have just come at one of the worst possible times.

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