You always wonder how Juventus are going to do the game after they play in the Champions League. it's only natural. It's not like they've been absolutely fantastic in the next game following a European contest in the last two years under Antonio Conte's leadership.
There's just one thing...
You're telling me this is basically the same team that absolutely imploded against Fiorentina less than a month ago? Well, in terms of players it is. In terms of how those players — and the team as a whole — is performing, it's night and day.
Conte has his team hitting its stride. There's no way around it. It may be coming a little later than his two previous years as manager, but the overall picture is looking bright. And even that much when you consider how much of a disaster mode it was in the few hours following the 4-2 loss in Florence.
And thanks to goals from Fernando Llorente, Andrea Pirlo and Paul Pogba's absolutely stunning volley, Juve are going into the international break feeling pretty darn good about how things are going. They are producing offensively, they are defending well, and they're really starting to resemble the team that won the last two Serie A titles.
It's not complete, but they're getting close.
Conte: My lads were extraordinary, they put in a great performance and emerged victorious in every aspect of the game. #JuveNapoli— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) November 10, 2013
Now just shut up and watch the damn gif over and over again. I know I will.
There's just something about playing Napoli that brings out the absolute best of Paul Pogba, isn't there?
Random thoughts and observations
- This is yet another reminder that Paul Pogba is still just 20 years old.
- This is your reminder that the three goal scorers for Juventus cost around €1 million total. That's, like, 100 Gareth Bales, you guys. Throw in Andrea Barzagli — another one of Juve's best players against Napoli — into the mix, and you've got the bargain basement special package coming up absolutely golden in one of the biggest games of the season to date.
- You know what was almost as good as watching two beautiful goals from Juventus? Watching Gianluigi Buffon making a handful of really, really good saves to keep the clean sheet intact. My personal favorite was the one-handed save on Lorenzo Insigne. That was a classic Buffon reaction save. He's still got it.
- And you know what was almost as good as Buffon's saves? His reaction to Pogba's goal.
Caption contest — go!
- This whole post could be nothing but pictures and gifs and I'd be perfectly okay with it. And if it wasn't for Pogba's volleying brilliance, then Pirlo's free kick would be plastered all of this post. What a thing of beauty.
- With the match's opening strike, Llorente has now scored three goals in his last six games. It's not out of this world good, but all things considered when it comes to Llorente, it's a good product. And considering Llorente said earlier in the week that he's "only at 60 percent," then it's going to be even that much better when he feels he hits full strength.
I guess Mirko Vucinic getting hurt did have one big benefit.
- And when there's talk about Llorente, there's usually talk about Carlos Tevez not far behind.
While he didn't a goal himself, he got the assists on Llorente's opener and was the main reason why Pirlo got a free kick where he did. He continues to be the embodiment of the kind of striker Conte absolutely loves to have on his roster. Sometimes you wish there was a camera solely on Tevez just to see how hard he works and how much he runs during a match.
- Maybe lost amongst the spectacular goals from Pirlo and Pogba is the incredibly solid game that Mauricio Isla had against Napoli. He's gotten a lot of stick around these parts when he doesn't do well at all, but he deserves some credit today. It's not like he's had a ton of good games in a Juve jersey, but Sunday's win was definitely one of the better games he's had since coming to Turin.
- With the win, Juve are now all alone in second and one point behind Roma following the weekend's results. Not a bad way to go into the international break.