Even before Juventus traveled to Lisbon, the writing was clearly on the wall after only collecting three points from the first four matchdays.
However, Benfica ended the Old Lady’s slight chance of making it to the Champions League knockout rounds by defeating the Italian powerhouses twice to secure their qualification, along with PSG.
The 18-year-old defender Antonio Silva’s header, gave the Eagles, unquestionably the superior team from the start, an early equalizer.
Nevertheless, after a VAR review, Juventus rallied by grabbing an immediate equalizer. For it, Dusan Vlahovic received credit.
Juan Cuadrado handled the ball inside the box, awarding Benfica a penalty kick, allowing them to regain the lead quickly.
Before halftime, Rafa Silva’s spectacular finish made it 3-1 after Joao Mario’s successful penalty kick conversion.
After the break, Rafa capitalized on yet another terrible mistake by the defense to chip the ball over Wojciech Szczesny and inflict more suffering on Max Allegri’s team.
The Bianconeri made a late comeback by scoring twice, thanks to Arek Milik and Weston McKennie. Still, the Portuguese had a few more opportunities to make the outcome even more embarrassing.
However, the resurgence proved to be too little too late, as Benfica held on to win 4-3, sending Juventus packing in the process.
7-goal thriller sees Benfica through and eliminates Juventus in Lisbon ? pic.twitter.com/UzPzWwADNx
— 433 (@433) October 25, 2022
Juventus: Not so Elite
The debate about whether Allegri’s return, who won five straight league championships from 2015 to 2020, was a good choice has felt like it has been ongoing for at least a few months, and this will only get more heated in light of their early elimination.
As we all know, they are currently front and center in an existential battle for control of European club football. A large part of their argument rests on their belief that they are part of an “elite.”
This is the first time they have failed to advance to the knockout stage of the Champions League since 2014.
Although they were at least their first straight league victories of the season, their league standing remained the same from a mediocre 8th in Serie A.
Now, all they have to look forward to is a spot in the Europa League, and even that is still being determined. They are still in the running to qualify for the Champions League the following season.
If they scrape third place, it may only be on goal difference from Maccabi Haifa, and complete elimination remains possible.
Based on this performance – indeed, most of their performances in all competitions this season – Juventus is nowhere near the elite of European football.
Time will tell whether Allegri is still in place for the next part of that particular adventure.
Juventus knocked out of the Champions League in 5 successive seasons by Ajax, Lyon, Porto, Villarreal & Benfica. Five clubs not deemed "glamorous" enough for the European Super League by one of its key cheerleaders – Juve chairman Andrea Agnelli. Sometimes football can be funny.
— Colin Millar (@Millar_Colin) October 25, 2022
Allegri: We must move on from this
In a post-match interview, Allegri said. “After we tied the score at 1, the game’s outcome may have been different, but we subsequently gave up a penalty that we shouldn’t have.”
“To finish as efficiently as possible before the break, we must replenish our physical and, more importantly, mental energies. To channel our anger into constructive energy, we must consider what occurred.”
“Even if we ought to have been more engaged in the game at this point, the elimination didn’t occur tonight. However, after the second setback, everything got more challenging.”
“Benfica started out playing rapid football, but by the time the second half rolled around, we had already fallen behind in the game.”
“We must first move past the painful elimination, worry about the title, and then, on Wednesday, make sure we qualify for the Europa League.”