Whether Or Not Max Allegri Can Take Juventus To Champions League Glory

You’re in high school again, and your friend Eric tells you he’s not obsessed with this girl Nicole. Eric says he’s concentrated on things like homework, inane resume-builders like the math club, and, of course, soccer (Eric is the first-choice left back for the school’s mediocre team). 

But let him repeat himself: He is definitely not obsessed with Nicole. Definitely. She’s tough to get, he says, and a ton of other dudes are going after her. Sure, it’d be nice to go out with Nicole — he never said it wouldn’t be. It’d be great. But he’s not obsessed. Definitely not obsessed. 

You believe him at first, given the relative soundness of his reasoning vis-a-vis the competition surrounding Nicole, but when Eric starts texting you about his non-obsession with Nicole, when he starts really broadcasting his non-obsession, and then when he goes on a tirade about his non-obsession, you start to wonder whether he’s telling the truth.

Eric, of course, is Max Allegri, the Juventus boss who is definitely not — let him assure you — obsessed with the Champions League. 

Fury & refrains

After last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Inter Milan in the Derby d’Italia, Allegri exploded on live television: 

It was a magical moment in a league of magical moments, and it opened up Allegri’s normally calm demeanor in a way that only occasionally happens. Every once and a while the manager will rip his jacket off on the sideline or something like that, but this tantrum with pundit (and, let it be said, former Inter player) Lele Adani really wrenched something open deep within Allegri. 

Here is a translation of some of Allegri’s outburst, and here is one of the more salient points: “In Italy, everyone has become a theorist of football and that is a real problem, like you reading your books. Now you shut up and I’ll talk, you don’t know anything about football. ... You just sit there behind the desk, you read your books, but you don’t know anything about the practicality of the sport. I’ve won six Scudetti.”

The eternal Juventus debate: a dominant run of Scudetti with no Champions League glory to show for it.

I could create a liturgical calendar around the various times when Allegri will say, to some effect, that he and Juventus are not obsessed with the Champions League. The first echoes of this somber declaration sound at the end of each August, around when the draws are announced. Allegri will tell the media that Juventus certainly will put lots of effort into the Champions League, but that “it’s no guarantee” and “there are many other good teams trying to win the Champions League,” etc., etc. 

When Juventus inevitably drop ridiculous points during the group phase, he’ll reiterate those points. 

The oil really hits the pan when Juventus dig themselves a seemingly insurmountable hole either in the round of 16 or the quarterfinals (see: Atletico Madrid 2019, Tottenham 2018), or when Allegri is hedging before a big game — perhaps in an attempt to relieve some pressure off his squad. 

Here, for example, was Allegri this past November before a Series A matchup with Cagliari days before the game against Manchester United: “We are working to achieve the goal that in recent years we have not managed to achieve, the Champions League, but it is not an obsession. I am lucky to train Juventus, it is one of the most important companies in Europe, a formation that can aspire to win it. This year the No. 1 candidate is Barcelona.” 

(Turns out he wasn’t wrong about Barcelona!)

Who is Max Allegri?

As Allegri himself pointed out, he’s won six Scudetti. That’s a lot. In fact, it’s one away from tying Giovanni Trappatoni for the most of any manager. Five of Allegri’s league titles have come with Juventus, one with Milan. He’s won four Coppa Italia trophies with the Old Lady as well. In the Champions League, he’s come oh-so-close, losing the 2015 final to Barcelona and the 2017 final to Real Madrid. 

Now, though, he’s staring at back-to-back quarterfinal exits, this year with the help of Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s dealing with a Juventus fanbase that is more and more dissatisfied with just winning league titles (or doubles), and — perhaps more than anything — in a world of changing football styles and methods, he’s dealing with a host of naysayers who claim his approach just won’t work, or else is just plain boring, or both. 

Allegri is known for his pragmatic approach to the game. It’s not pretty — not Pep, not Klopp, not Sarri. For those of us who have labored through every Juventus game for the past several years during Allegri's reign, each new 90-minute struggle is nothing new. In fact I’m shocked when, over and over, some inevitably British announcer on an American broadcast makes a point midway through a Juventus game about “Juventus not looking like Juventus” because of lack of possession or fluidity. 

That, in fact, has been Juventus for a few years running. But the Bianconeri just keep on winning regardless. 

Allegri is a mostly calm personality, or maybe “calm” isn’t the right word — “tame but taut” might be more appropriate. In press conferences he’ll speak openly and matter-of-factly, and then he’ll blow up like last weekend. In games he’ll fold his arms over his chest and survey even-handedly, and then he’ll strip off his Juventus-emblazoned sport coat and scream so loud the broadcast microphones pick it up. 

He’s both straightforward and enigmatic, and in fact that’s quite apropos for his results: six Scudetti, four Coppa Italias, two Champions League runners-up. It’s clear as crystal; it’s objective what he’s done. 

But the question remains: If Champions League is the goal for Juventus, is Allegri the right man to take them there? 

The dumbest answer possible

I have no idea whether Allegri is the right manager to take Juventus forward. You have no idea, either. This week we saw Jurgen Klopp, one of the most highly regarded managers in Europe, make some head-scratching decisions that partially led to Liverpool’s 3-0 letdown. Pep Guardiola has an unlimited bank account and absolutely stacked roster with Manchester City and exited the Champions League against a Spurs side without Harry Kane for half the battle and generally decimated by injuries. 

There is essentially and absolutely no way of knowing who the right man is for the job at the right time with the right management and the right confluence of circumstance, personnel, and — ever-present in the sport — luck. 

I go back and forth on whether or not I think Juventus should move on from Max. He’s undoubtedly been successful, even without the Champions League crown. He owns Serie A and there’s not really an end in sight at this point domestically. Yet his style and approach beg serious questions, and for most people besides the manager himself the Ajax game in Turin exposed that truth.

Sometimes you need to take a step sideways to actually move forward. When Juventus hired Allegri in the first place, fans weren’t completely thrilled with the move; Antonio Conte had guided them out of the depths, and Allegri at the time wasn’t anywhere near where a Pep, Klopp, or even a Mauricio Pochettino would be now.

At the moment, Allegri is returning to Juventus for the final year of his contract. There are rumors and speculation, but this is finally true for Juventus: They know exactly what they have in Allegri, and a move for another manager would be a high-risk gambit.

First Half Own Goal Gives D.C. United Huge Victory Over Portland Timbers

In 90 minutes of rain, D.C. United emerged victorious in the Pacific Northwest, benefitting from an own goal in a 1-0 win against the Portland Timbers. Bill Tuiloma knocked in Ulises Segura's cross in the 25th minute, giving United their second consecutive win, both of which came away from the friendly confines at Audi Field. The win elevated the Black-and-Red to fourth place in the Eastern Conference, a position that could change depending on other results on Sunday.

D.C. United In Position To Solidify Playoff Position With PDX Trip

After two weeks off for the international break, D.C. United are back in action on Sunday afternoon as they travel cross-country to take on the Portland Timbers. A win could see the Black-and-Red vault back into fourth place in the Eastern Conference after they were surpassed midweek by Toronto FC, who moved into fourth on the goal differential tiebreaker. Both teams currently occupy a playoff spot at the moment but need a win to cement their standing.

4 Notes From The Opening Rounds Of The Concacaf Nations League

The opening two rounds of the Concacaf Nations League are in the books, and we now have a clearer picture of which nations might punch their tickets to bigger and better things or tumble down into a lower league. 

Final 4 Weeks Of MLS Season Should Provide Plenty Of Drama

With the new schedule this year, Major League Soccer has a couple more sprints before the finish of the 2019 season. With the new playoff schedule, the second season is much shorter this year, after having to deal with the November international window smack dab in the middle of the playoffs. This year the playoffs are sandwiched between the October and November FIFA windows, which will help produce an MLS Cup winner in a whirlwind of a playoff schedule.

The Gap Between US & Mexico Is Widening On The International Stage

Rewind the tape to last September, when the USA and Mexico faced off in a friendly in Nashville. Tyler Adams helped the USMNT grab a 1-0 victory under the guidance of interim manager Dave Sarachan. What might be most memorable from that game, though, was the towering center back Matt Miazga reminding Mexican youngster Diego Lainez just how much shorter the then 18-year-old was than Miazga.

Trinidad & Tobago Struggle In Opening Rounds Of Concacaf Nations League

Though it may have been just a consolation prize considering their last-place finish in the Hex, Trinidad & Tobago’s shocking win over the United States at the tail end of 2017 was ample reason for the small nation to celebrate. 

4 Games Left To Decide D.C. United's MLS Playoff Standing

The last time D.C. United took the field in a competitive MLS game, they did their playoff chances a world of good. In a crucial showdown against the Montreal Impact on August 31, the Black-and-Red repeatedly punched their opponents in the mouth over the first 45 minutes of the game, picking up a 3-0 win that massively helped ease the pressure on a playoff race that was rapidly tightening up.

Concaclusions, Ep. 1: Nations League Matchday 1 & Mexico Dominate USA


From clutch finishes to a surprise resignation, the last week of Concacaf action featured just about everything imaginable as the inaugural Nations League is now underway. Away from the opening round of the tournament, Mexico were busy flexing their muscles in front of a rain-soaked crowd at MetLife Stadium. 

The Favorites Roll, Curaçao Narrowly Beats Haiti & More From Days 2 & 3


The past two days of the Concacaf Nations League has provided plenty of drama, decisive results, and world-class goals for everyone to enjoy. With games across all three leagues in the competition, some storylines are already beginning to play out throughout the competition, as we move on to the second match day, beginning on Monday.

Unexpected Concacaf Twist: Gustavo Matosas Stepping Down Because Of Boredom

The Concacaf Nations League began play this week and is sure to provide plenty of drama on the field over the next couple of months. Countries are vying to move to the semifinal round, or avoid relegation, or even jump up a league through promotion. There's always some element of unpredictability in these games, leading to shock results and standout performances from unheralded players.