If you were to try and pinpoint two of the Juventus players who have struggled for the better part of the 2014-15 season to date, Arturo Vidal and Fernando Llorente would almost certainly be atop the list. They've been nowhere close to as good as they were a season ago, and their most recent appearances only support that point even further.
But when the final whistle blew against Palermo on Sunday and Juventus had secured three points yet again at Juventus Stadium, guess who found themselves on the scoresheet? Well, you can probably figure out where I'm going with this. Those goal scorers were Arturo Vidal and Fernando Llorente, one in each half to put away the newly-promoted side from Sicily with a 2-0 win.
Yep, just a couple of guys who need some positive performances got exactly that.
Reaction from @ClaMarchisio8: "It was important to win today and it's great that Nando's got off the mark for the season." #JuvePalermo— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) October 26, 2014
Was it pretty at times? Well, no, not really. For as nice as Vidal's opener from Carlos Tévez was in the 31st minute, most of the first half was pretty quiet in terms of Juventus putting a legitimate threat on the Palermo goal. And once Juventus took control in the second half, it was pretty much Palermo trying to weather the storm and not let the flood gates open.
The biggest difference between the first time Juventus wore their new blue kits and the second was the end result. And coming off two disappointing results in a matter of days, it was a positive sign to see Juve come out and do exactly what we were all expecting them to do against Palermo — take care of business and get the three points.
Something to build on. Not a huge step forward, but unlike the last few games, it wasn't a huge step back.
Random thoughts and observations
- For the record, this first bullet point was written 20 minutes before kickoff, and asks one question: After the way he played midweek in the Champions League, why didn't Álvaro Morata start against Palermo? I love Fernando Llorente as much as the next person, but you have to play the hot hand ... right? I mean ... right?
- For the record, this second bullet point is being written about 60 seconds after Fernando Llorente scored his first goal of the season: #vamooooossss!!
- In all seriousness, though, getting his first goal of the season out of the way was exactly what Llorente needed — especially so with Morata nipping at his heels for playing time right now. One goal doesn't mean he's totally back, but it has to do wonders for his confidence. You think that goal meant a little something extra with the way he's struggled to begin the season? Yeah, I think so.
- Sunday had to easily be the most amount of consistent service from the wings Llorente has gotten this season. Kwadwo Asamoah was really good on the left wing, Roberto Pereyra was solid in his first start as a wingback. Llorente had a good number of crosses to try and get his head onto. And for a striker like him, it's only a matter of time before he starts putting them on frame on a consistent basis.
- With his assist on Vidal's goal, Tévez has been involved in nine (six goals, three assists) of Juventus' first 15 goals in Serie A this season. That's pretty good, right?
- Claudio Marchisio's game is just so simple yet so fantastic at the same time. He was Juve's best player in the first half in my book. He was everywhere both in attack and when Palermo did venture forward into Juve's defense third. The way he's played so far this season, it's going to be tough to keep him out of the lineup more often than not. The question to ponder is: Who you gonna sit?
- Interesting tactical choices by Max Allegri just after the opening kickoff, switching both Vidal and Marchisio in the center of the midfield, and putting Angelo Ogbonna in the middle of the back three with Leonardo Bonucci out on the right. I don't know how much I like Bonucci being out wide in the three-man defense going forward, but obviously Allegri saw something in the way Palermo lined up that warranted a switch.
- You think Beppe Marotta had a thought or two pop into his head about seeing what it would take to try and sign one of Palermo's talented youngsters? I wouldn't be surprised if he was doing a little scouting in the stands while watching his team wrap up three points. Palermo definitely has talent on its roster.
- Make that 23 straight wins at Juventus Stadium. That's a record, folks.
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