I guess Fiorentina just scored its goal way too early. Suckas.
Juventus had nearly 88 minutes to regroup, re-whatever, after Giorgio Chiellini was called for a penalty that may have been a penalty in some people's eyes but not one in others. Either way, Fiorentina had rolled into Juventus Stadium and taken the lead within 150 seconds in one of the biggest games of the season to date. Not exactly how you draw up a start in a game that had quite a bit of anticipation attached to it.
So what did Juve do?
Came right back and hit 'em in the mouth.
Juan Cuadrado made the Ex Effect work in Juventus' favor for once to tie it just three minutes, then late-second-half goals from Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala allowed Juve to grab the three points and leapfrog yet another team, Roma, in the Serie A standings. It was the kind of response we've come to expect from this club simply because that's how they operate. And with plenty of time to work with, there was bound to be chances to get back into the game.
So, what does this win mean in terms of the table? Take a look at this here piece of evidence right here.
#10 giornata - ROMA 23 - JUVE 12 #16 giornata - JUVE 30 - ROMA 29— JuPorn™ (@jup1897) December 13, 2015
Maybe Sunday's win over Fiorentina was a microcosm of the entire season. Think about it, facing adversity right off the bat and having to try to come out of it almost instantaneously. Obviously Cuadrado's goal came a little faster than, say, Juve got out of its early-season funk, but look at what's happened now that they are a vastly different team than they were. Juventus has gone from sitting in the relegation zone after a couple of games, up into the teens, to mid-table to just outside the top third of the table. Two very good wins over two difficult opponents, Lazio and Fiorentina, have now put Juventus in fourth place and on the brink of the top three.
Did we all think it could have happened this fast?
I don't know, but it's why Max Allegri — and the guy writing this post — preached some patience. They were too good and too talented to be where they were. And now, this team is starting to truly hit its stride, and the results speak for themselves now. They're scoring goals, they're defending well, the on-field chemistry that wasn't there in September and early October is there now. And as we get set to flip the calendar to 2016 in a few short weeks, we can feel pretty good about how Juventus is playing going into the new year.
It's certainly a lot better than how they were playing to start the new season.
.@PauDybala_JR: "We were way off the top. Now we’ve got one league game to play before the break and we’re close to where we should be."— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) December 13, 2015
Amen to that, Paulo.
Six straight Serie A wins. Back into fourth place. What a time to be alive.
Random thoughts and observations
- As much as I want Álvaro Morata to play, it's pretty hard to say he deserves minutes over Mandzukic right now. His game might not be the most glamorous, he might not always be a constant nuisance to the opposing defense like Dybala, but he's doing what he was signed to do — score goals and lead the line.
- Speaking of Dybala, he's so good. Have I mentioned that the €40 million price tag is looking more and more worth it these days? Because I feel like I have, but I won't get tired of saying it as we see the baby-faced Argentine continue to shred opposing defenses apart.
- And how about that pass from Pogba on Mandzukic's go-ahead goal? Good lord that boy's good.
- I won't lie, I raised an eyebrow when I saw that Juan Cuadrado was in the starting lineup at right wingback instead of Stephan Lichtsteiner. And whether or not his game-tying goal was really meant to be a header on goal, he produced and made Max Allegri's decision look like the right one.
He may be a frustrating player a good amount of the time, but Cuadrado played a big role in Sunday's win. And this is from somebody who gets frustrated with Cuadrado a good amount of the time.
- Fiorentina had nearly 62 percent of the total possession yet only had six shots. Their only shot on goal was their goal in the third minute. After that, Juventus' defense — which seems to be getting better by the game these days — absolutely locked things down.
Gigi Buffon just stealing checks again. That's what happens when you don't have to make a single save.
- Claudio Marchisio made 41 passes against Fiorentina. He completed 41 passes against Fiorentina. Last time I checked, that's a perfect 100 pass accuracy percentage.
- Juventus now sits two points behind both Fiorentina and Napoli for third place. What are the odds that Juve, who plays Carpi next weekend to close out the calendar year, can close the season in one of the three Champions League spots? Napoli's hit a little rough patch, Fiorentina is obviously coming off a big loss to Juventus, and our boys are playing a Carpi side that has won just twice in 16 games this season.
- Champions League draw in just a few hours. Let the three hours of build-up and highlight videos be worth it when Juventus' name is finally called.