Advancing to the Champions League’s knockout stages with two games to spare is always something to celebrate, however, as Alvaro Morata’s injury-time header crept past the Ferencvaros goalkeeper on Wednesday night, a fair few sighs of relief will have been exhaled around the Allianz Stadium.
Despite being fourth seeds in Group G and losing 4-1 during the reverse fixture in Budapest three weeks ago, the Hungarian side clearly viewed the Bianconeri as vulnerable under pressure and were rewarded with the opener through Myrto Uzuni on 19 minutes.
Although unbeaten in Serie A this season, Juventus have seemingly lost that air of invincibility that has surrounded them in recent years, as they undergo arguably their biggest transitional period since Massimilano Allegri replaced Antonio Conte.
While it will no doubt take time for new coach Andrea Pirlo to fully instill his playing philosophy onto his players, for nearly an hour of the game, like much of the season so far, the Old Lady appears somewhat passive in possession and devoid of invention.
The European minnows coming to Turin should have been the ideal fixture for Juve’s captain on the night, Paulo Dybala, to display his undoubted talents and for Cristiano Ronaldo to rack up even more Champions League goals, yet both looked visibly frustrated with a lack of service and support.
That only seven of their 19 attempts on goal were on target, suggests wastefulness in the final third, but masks the fact that most of those efforts came during the latter stages and enhanced with several speculative shots from distance.
As top seeds, Juventus would have expected a favourable group and almost certain progression, but they have been fortunate, given their circumstances this season, to have been presented with two sides so much weaker than themselves and Barcelona to allow such smooth advancement.
Rather than focusing on topping the group ahead of the Spanish giants, though, the Bianconeri must use this opportunity to find an identity under Pirlo and start imposing themselves domestically.
Scheduled between their remaining Champions League fixtures against Dynamo Kiev and Barcelona, Juventus face newly-promoted Benevento and Serie A strugglers Torino and Genoa. If Pirlo is still experimenting with the players at his disposal, Europe presents the ideal setting regardless of where it sits among the club’s priorities.