I guess it's a pretty nice problem to have when you play a so-so game and slip four past your opposition.
That was Juventus' reality on Sunday afternoon in Sardinia. For whatever reason, this wasn't the Juventus we had seen during the course of the 10-game winning streak. They lacked that fire we've become accustomed to. It was just...meh.
Then, around the 70th minute, Antonio Conte made his first change of the game: Claudio Marchisio for Andrea Pirlo. And with Juve level with Cagliari at 1-1 and needing a goal to keep the winning streak going, there was a collective "Pirlo?" reaction from the masses. Well, there's a reason why Antonio Conte is paid the big bucks to manage the team and I'm sitting here writing about Juventus game after game.
(Take that, you nerd!)
Thanks to Marchisio's right-footed bolt of lightning from outside the penalty area a few minutes after his introduction, the flood gates opened about as fast as they could. Three goals in the span of seven minutes saw Juve go from a potentially disappointing draw to recording their club-record 11th straight victory on the trot. The way things ended, you would have never known that it was Cagliari who played the better football for a decent chunk of the match.
Buffon: It’s a pleasing record to have and our next objective is to set another one by winning a third consecutive Scudetto. #CagliariJuve— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) January 12, 2014
I'd just like to ask my Man of the Match, Stephan Lichtsteiner, one last thing: How many goals did Juventus score today against Cagliari?
Thanks, Stephan. Just wanted to make sure I got things right.
Random thoughts and observations
- This season hasn't been easy on Marchisio for a number of reasons. He's been hurt, his form has absolutely sucked, and it's become pretty clear that Conte prefers Paul Pogba to him in the starting lineup right now. But this was a game that just seemed to need a dose of Marchisio — and he delivered the goods. His goal was more than just the eventual game-winner. He needed it from a personal point of view, too. I'm not declaring that he's suddenly back to being the Marchisio of old, but I just can't help but feel happy for the guy. He needed that goal badly.
Conte: @ClaMarchisio8 has Juve in his blood, he’s in good shape and when we needed to shift things up a gear in midfield, I thought of him.— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) January 12, 2014
- Seems fitting for this section of the post-game thread: Maybe I should mention Fernando Llorente in my previews more often if he's going to have games like that. Okay, so maybe it's not all my doing, but fact still remains that Llorente scored a brace on Sunday. He got the opener, the game-clinching goal. His first goal was just vintage Llorente. The keeper had no chance.
- Llorente and Carlos Tevez have combined for 18 goals in Serie A this season. Not bad, not bad at all.
- According to the good folks at WhoScored, Arturo Vidal had seven tackles against Cagliari. Not bad for a guy who had a pretty quiet game overall.
- I love watching Lichtsteiner do Lichtsteiner things. That's not exactly an opinion that is shared by the minority of people who for Juventus. His game today is just a reminder of what Juve are like when they get contributions from the wingbacks. Two assists, a goal and a whole lot of awesome. It's so nice to have him back and healthy again.
- Saw a couple people point this out on Twitter after the win: Juventus have dropped five points all season. One loss (to Fiorentina), one draw (to Inter), and that's it. That kind of success equals an astonishing 52 points in the first half of the season. Simple math tells me that Juventus are on pace for 104 points this season. That's just crazy to think about.
- Did you guys hear David Moyes was in the stands? I can't believe nobody mentioned it.
- One last winning streak update: 30 goals scored, 2 goals allowed. That's as impressive as it gets, you guys.
Conte: We’ve reached an extraordinary target and are extremely proud and satisfied with our achievement. #CagliariJuve— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) January 12, 2014
- Game Time Thread: Juventus vs. Cagliari
- Juventus-Cagliari Preview: Round 19 — Hitting the midway point
- Coppa Italia: Juventus and Roma set to meet in the quarterfinals
- Andrea Pirlo is reportedly working on a new contract, and that's a good thing
- Roma sign Radja Nainggolan on loan with option for co-ownership this summer