The Udinese bus had been parked for much of Sunday's game at Juventus Stadium. It wasn't anything new just because the clock was winding down in the second half. Udinese were defending tough and defending in bunches, putting anybody and everybody in an orange jersey behind the ball.
Juventus needed something. A spark of magic, a lucky break to go their way as they tried to up the urgency down the stretch. And as we entered the first minute of stoppages, Fernando Llorente was up to his tricks once again. Things looked certain to be headed towards a scoreless draw and then suddenly, out of nowhere, El Rey Leon was celebrating his game-winning goal and all seemed right in the world once again.
Sometimes when your team scores in the 91st minute, you just feel like singing a little bit.
How about that for a sudden change of thought? I've never been happier to blow up a post-game writeup and start over again.
In a game where Juventus had 27 shots directed towards Udinese's goal, it was the last one that mattered the most. It was looking like one of those nights where you'd be more likely to pull your hair out rather than celebrating a Juventus goal. Juve lacked that something special to unlock the Udinese defense.
After 90 minutes and change of waiting, Juve finally did just that, getting a prototypical goal from a prototypical prima punta.
No style points, but Juve got three points. I'll take that any day of the week.
Llorente: It was a tough game, we created plenty of chances but it didn't seem like we'd find the breakthrough. #JuveUdinese— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) December 1, 2013
Random thoughts and observations
- Llorente will get the headlines for scoring the game-winning goal, and that's perfectly okay with me. But Juventus wouldn't have been in position to win the game in stoppage time if it weren't for the efforts of Gigi Buffon. Can you even remember the last time he had to make four crucial saves in a match like he did today? It's been a good amount of time. A lot of that has to do with the way Juve's defense has played, of course, but Buffon more than answered the call against Udinese.
He's my pick for Man of the Match — and not just because he's my favorite.
- How does Stephan Lichtsteiner mark his return to the field after a two-month absence? By getting the assist on Llorente's goal, of course. Welcome back, my friend. You've been sorely missed.
- Please be okay, Andrea Pirlo.
- A lot of things changed when Pirlo came off the field less than 15 minutes into the first half, but the biggest difference might have been the impact Claudio Marchisio made. Il Principino had one of the brightest starts to the game of any Juventus player, making his classic runs into the box almost every time his team had the ball. But once Pirlo left the game, those runs weren't happening. Well, a lot of what Marchisio was doing to begin the game wasn't happening anymore. To be fair, though, the whole midfield just lacked their usual pop because they were without their beloved bearded maestro.
- Roma keep dropping points and Juve keep winning games. I like the sound of that.
- A little stat courtesy of the folks at WhoScored: Of the 27 shots Juve attempted on Sunday, 15 of those were blocked. Udinese may have had 10 guys behind the ball a good amount of the time, but they really did defend well and probably deserved to come out of the game with a point.
- Andrea Barzagli is a wall. That is all.
- Six straight wins, six straight clean sheets. The formula for success isn't too difficult to figure out, you guys. Buffon deserved the shutout tonight, and he got it.