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Juventus 2 - Atalanta 1: Initial reaction and random observations

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It didn't take very long for Juventus to venture down a road they've gone down so many times in recent years. You know the one — possession galore, scoring chances aplenty and nothing to show for it whatsoever. It was, just like Sunday against Cesena, a frustrating-beyond-belief kind of game where Juve had over 80 (!!!) percent of the possession in the early stages of the first half.

And that's even before Atalanta took the lead on what was basically their only real moment of attack-minded football in the first half. (It had to be a goal from a set piece/corner kick, didn't it? Check that one off the list.)

Yet, in the span of six minutes as the first half was beginning to come to a close, Juventus scored one of the scrappiest goals of the season (Fernando Llorente's) and one of the prettiest courtesy of Andrea Pirlo's 30-yard bolt of lightning. Just like that, Juve turned their fortunes around in a game they were far from impressive.

Heck, they were far from playing a solid game at all.

I mean, that's a good way to look at it to try and get right in Serie A. But was this really an inspiring performance when it comes to going into the Champions League showdown with Borussia Dortmund just four days away? Not really. Juventus created opportunities, sure, but when you're playing against a relegation-battling team that was far from full strength, you want the league's best to impose their will. Juve had possession, but didn't take full advantage of it.

I'm sure I wasn't the only one who was thinking "Don't pull a Cesena!" as the second half went on and Juventus couldn't find a third goal to double their lead and essentially put the game to bed.

You just hope the win gives the squad some confidence going into a massive week. I know the overall performance wasn't all that inspiring. That's for damn sure.

Random thoughts and observations

  • I am going to get the Fernando Llorente discussion out of the way quickly.

    Do I think he was great against Atalanta? No. But Llorente really did work his tail off Friday night. There was a time where Llorente would be involved in a huge number of Juve's ventures forward, holding up playing and dishing the ball off to his teammates. And while his goal was ugly, he did something he hadn't done since the middle of December — actually find the back of the net.

    If anything, Llorente's goal, his fifth in Serie A this season, will give him some much-much-much-needed confidence going forward. Based on how things have gone for him the past six months, any kind of goal is something to be happy about. I think that's something we can agree about.

  • I don't know how many times I watched Pirlo's goal during halftime, but it was a lot. So beautiful, so out of nowhere, so important. That's what gave Juventus the three points Friday night. So thank you, Andrea.

  • Quiz question for the masses: When was the last time a Pirlo goal was a non-free kick? Go ahead.

  • It's no secret around here that I am one of the biggest Martin Cáceres fanboys there is. He was great in the first half against Atalanta, bombing up and down the right wing in his return to the starting lineup. He hasn't missed a beat at all — when he's actually healthy, of course — since shifting out wide as a right back since Max Allegri's been using his 4-3-1-2 formation.

  • Allegri walked a tightrope with playing Paul Pogba from the start against Atalanta fully knowing that a yellow card would mean the French dynamo wouldn't be part of Juve's trip to Roma next weekend. Luckily for all of us (and Allegri), Pogba didn't get that yellow card before he came off for Stephan Lichtsteiner in the 64th minute. Bullet dodged.

  • Who's actually going to be suspended against Roma? A certain Simone Padoin. Let's just start praying for a win right now, people.

  • I'm just going out on a limb and declare it right here: One of the young players Atalanta trotted out Friday night will be a Juventus player sooner rather than later. That's just a hunch. (Or maybe it's knowing a thing or two about a thing or two when it comes to Beppe Marotta.)

  • Our Champions League coverage will get going soon, but one quick thought: After watching Atalanta counter like they did, even thinking about somebody like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang kick into gear and run full speed at Juve's defense may well give me nightmares. Seriously, trying to stop Dortmund's counterattacking ways will be so important to keeping them off the scoreboard Tuesday night.