Juventus may need to make a decision on Andrea Pirlo

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Let’s be honest, we all saw this coming, right?

Although we may not have assumed that Juventus would suffer such a drop-off under Andrea Pirlo, we can not be too surprised by the state they are now in under a rookie coach with no experience.

Stay calm will surely be the message from Pirlo to his team after Sunday’s 1-0 defeat against Atalanta, but under the cool surface he must start to feel the sharks circling.

That loss leaves Juve, who are in fourth place just three points ahead of Napoli, and I Parthenopei also hold a match in the hands of the current champions. Lazio is four behind, while AS Roma is behind in the European race.

Now, many in Turin would probably have expected a small dip in the team’s performance during another transition year under a new coach, and for once it would have been a bonus rather than a requirement to win a scudetto.

FT | ⏱ | Final whistle in Bergamo. # AtalantaJuve #FinoAllaFine #ForzaJuve pic.twitter.com/x9icCRttAq

– JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) April 18, 2021

But do you miss a top four and spend an entire season outside the Champions League? Gianluigi Buffon did not return for this.

Juve’s squad is not strong or talented enough to challenge for the title this season, and that’s good. Inter are on another planet for their rivals, and those like Milan have made real improvements to last year’s goals.

But this squad is definitely one of the top four in the league, and there can be no excuses for finishing outside the Champions League qualifiers.

It falls directly on Pirlo’s shoulders.

He was in a defiant mood after the defeat against Atalanta and claimed that Juve “played a strong game against a strong team”. At least half of this statement was correct.

“It was a good match against a strong team,” said Pirlo.

“We played the match we needed, then they were lucky with the late goal, but we played with great determination and aggression. It is disappointing, we could have won at least one point.”

The truth is that there is no shame in losing to a side that is as organized and talented as Atalanta, and their model is something that Pirlo will point to in an attempt to save his skin. Gian Piero Gasperini has been given a lot of time to form a team in his image, and they are now without a doubt the most entertaining side in Europe.

Only one winner here | Pier Marco Tacca / Getty Images

But eight draws and five defeats in 31 games, with a group of players including superstars Matthijs de Ligt, Federico Chiesa and Cristiano Ronaldo, is unacceptable. Their performance on Sunday lacked a killer instinct, the last ball was often missing and the courage to really take a risk against La Dea was nowhere to be seen.

Pirlo said that Juve “played the match we needed”, but if that match means that you only collect two shots on goal against a team that can be incredibly leaky in the back – yes, that is not what the supporters expect.

So many of us wanted this to work, and while much of the blame can be placed on the feet of a bloated and unbalanced group, the glittering signs of encouragement have been largely outweighed by the miserable, clueless performances of Sunday.

The clock is ticking | Pier Marco Tacca / Getty Images

Pirlo’s fate now hangs in the balance. If he keeps the players in place and gathers to secure a top-four spot, there is a chance he will get another summer to prove what he can do at the highest level. Miss, and yes, his term of office will surely be limited.

Rome was not built in a day, but Turin lacks patience.

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