There's two ways to go about this...
The glass half full approach to the way Juventus played in the first half pretty much says that they played relatively well despite only scoring one goal. Then there's the glass half empty approach to the way Juventus played in the first half, which pretty much says that they played not even close to being all that great because they could only manage to score one measly goal despite a handful of quality opportunities.
Regardless of how you feel about Juventus' first-half performance, they certainly had chances to score more than just Patrice Evra's 12th-minute header off a corner kick. Not a lot, but a healthy number of goal-scoring opportunities against Sampdoria to open the game, going out of the gates as the vastly superior side.
But there's no way to spin how Juve played in the second half into anything positive. Nope, not even close to it, really. Max Allegri's men looked like a shell of the team that played well in the first 45 minutes against Sampdoria. When were Juventus at their best in the first half? Pressing, high-tempo play, quick and dangerous counterattacks.
That didn't happen after halftime, and the result proved to be costly.
Post-match @OfficialAllegri reaction: "It’s a pity, we played very well in the first half but didn’t match it after the break." #JuveSamp— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) December 14, 2014
That doesn't excuse Juve from not taking full advantage of all the chances they created in the first half. Sure, Sergio Romero made a couple of really good saves — most notably on Claudio Marchisio's ferocious left-footed strike — but Juventus really should have done better to grab more than just one goal. Saying Juventus lack a clinical aspect in front of goal these days might as well be the understatement of the year.
Yet when they really needed to be efficient in front of goal in the first half Sunday afternoon, they weren't able to. And as a result, it came back to bite them right in the bianconero backsides.
Random thoughts and observations
- It feels like I can write the same thing about Arturo Vidal after each and every game these days. He's not playing well. He hasn't been playing well for weeks now. I don't know when this run of bad form will end because he really hasn't shown us any consistent glimpses that he will get out of it anytime soon. The question going into the winter break is this: Should Allegri consider sitting Vidal down when the holiday break comes to an end in January?
- Even though it seems like he's just a few minor details away from securing his move to Napoli, I still feel like Gabbiadini could be a useful piece for Juventus. And that was before his beautiful game-tying goal in the second half. Bringing Gabbiadini on to begin the second half was the best thing Samp manager Siniša Mihajlović did all game. Who knows how much longer he'll end up being a Sampdoria player, but we're coming to find out Gabbiadini has a serious thing for scoring pretty goals against Juventus.
- Patrice Evra screams, "SUCK IT, HATES!" as he scores tumbling headers against Sampdoria. Or at least that's what I imagine he said as he went and celebrated his first career goal in a Juventus jersey. And good for him, too. He played well in Sunday's draw.
- You know who else had a very good game? Claudio Marchisio. And it came as a regista, which certainly adds another chapter to the book about how he could step in at regista for Andrea Pirlo whenever the bearded wonder hangs up his boots. Marchisio's numbers in the first half were just plain crazy: He touched the ball 71 times, recorded three tackles and had a 91 percent pass success rate. So much for any doubts about him being still a little shook up from the flu earlier in the week, right?
- Status quo for Gigi Buffon. His one difference-making save was absolutely superb. Ho-hum.
- Their finishing sucked, but Juve's attack just go about things at a different speed when Álvaro Morata is on the field. I know I've been championing his case for more playing time, and I do think if he continues to contribute like this, both goals and assists will come. Now it's just up to Allegri to show him at least some of the same kind of faith he's shown Fernando Llorente so far this season.
- Kingsley Coman came on in favor of Sebastian Giovinco in the second half. I know Seba made a late-game appearance, but that's a pretty good sign of what Juve's current striker depth chart looks like.
- Carlos Tévez is starting to cool off a bit from his early-season hot streak. I'm pretty sure I know how to feel about this development.
- It just had to be Manolo Gabbiadini scoring the game-tying goal, didn't it? Not Stefano Okaka, not Eder. Just Manolo freaking Gabbiadini because that's the curse of the co-owned who will never wear a Juventus jersey.
- Game recap in one word: Frustrating, man. Really frustrating.
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