For nearly 90 minutes, Juventus looked like the complete opposite of the team that beat up on Parma 7-0 nearly three months ago. Like, not very good at all. It was ugly, and a game that probably made you consider watching other things than try to withstand a couple more minutes of Juve not putting anything on goal.
Yeah, Juventus played terrible. From start to finish. There way other to describe it than that.
Luckily, there was Álvaro Morata.
Oh, thank goodness for Álvaro Morata and all the stupidness that he prevented just before the 90th minute arrived.
A crap performance was erased — at least when it comes to the final score — by Morata's first truly decisive goal in a Juventus jersey. Sure, he's scored others, but this goal, his sixth in all competitions, enabled Juventus to barely get past Parma with a 1-0 win and advance to the semifinals in the Coppa Italia. It was a game-winner when it was desperately needed.
It was just the moment we had been waiting for all game.
Juventus didn't show anything close to the sense of urgency they did when they beat Parma at Juventus Stadium in November. The attack was lacking the usual bite we've become accustomed to — probably because there was no Carlos Tévez. The midfield struggled to truly impose its will on the game — probably because there was no Paul Pogba (for most of the game). It was just a drab, drab game that Juventus truly could have lost if they momentarily slipped up.
But they did.
Because Morata was there to save the day (or night if you want to get technical).
That's something some people have been waiting for. And when Juventus needed it, Morata popped up, with an assist from Fernando Llorente, and beat three defenders to slip a shot past Parma goalkeeper Antonio Mirante.
So onto the semis. Not very pretty. Not very efficient. And yet, the job was done — barely.
Random thoughts and observations
- I know it's a moot point since Juventus ended up winning, but how the heck did Claudio Marchisio miss that chance a few minutes before Morata's winner? Claudio, Claudio Claudio...
- You can count how many shots Juventus had on goal against Parma with one hand. And it wasn't like Wednesday's game was one of those classic "Juventus creates a ton of chances yet can't capitalize any of them" showings, either.
- As the game went on, didn't it seem like this might be a night where Sebastian Giovinco could prove to be a useful option off the bench? Who knows what's truly going on behind the scenes since he signed with Toronto FC, but he could have been a decent option off the bench ... right?
- This is not a drill or a typo: Simone Padoin was one of Juventus' best players against Parma. Not that it took much to be one of those players, but Padoin played really well. He can be the butt of jokes all the time, sure. Yet he's also been pretty consistent as a fullback this season and proving to be a useful reserve whenever called upon.
- And here's your reminder: You play Simone Padoin from the opening whistle, you win. Simple as it gets.
- Fernando Llorente didn't play well again in the grand scheme of things. But if his assist to Morata shows us anything, is that he's still a striker who can hold up play with his back to goal and then distribute the ball to a teammate. His role is different this year and Allegri is probably trying to fit a square peg into a round hole when it comes to his vision of how Llorente should be used, but Llorente's form is what it is.
- Kingsley Coman's ability to accelerate is pretty crazy to watch. Seems like he goes from standing still to full-out sprint in just a couple of strides.
- I'll admit it, I was relatively overlooking Parma because they've been so terrible all season. Just when you think they can't get any worse, they do. I mean, they're allowing close to 2 1/2 goals a game this season in Serie A, which is just insane to think about. But they didn't make things easy for Juventus at all Wednesday night, so props to them. Sure, Juve didn't play well, but some of it had to do with the way Parma played. It's not all Juve shooting themselves in the foot sometimes.
- It's either Roma or Fiorentina in the semifinals. Who ya got?
- Coppa Italia Game Time Thread: Juventus vs. Parma
- Coppa Italia Preview: Juventus vs. Parma — Marching toward the semifinal?
- Juventus' Romulo reportedly turns down the chance to return to Hellas Verona
- Juventus 2-0 Chievo: Paul Pogba works his magic again
- Juventus 2 - Chievo 0: Initial reaction and random observations