And then, down a goal in the second half and away from home, Juventus showed its old self once again.
Welcome back, old friend. We've certainly missed you.
Juventus got its first win of the season Tuesday night. And not just its first win of the season, but a come-from-behind win at the Etihad against a Manchester City side that had yet to allow a goal all season. A pair of strikers whose respective starts to the season pretty much resembled Juventus' as a whole ended up being the difference. Mario Mandzukic, just like in the Supercoppa against Lazio, got the first goal and Ávlaro Morata scored the game-winner with an incredible bender that left Joe Hart absolutely hopeless as he dove in vain.
There's a reason why the players celebrated Morata's goal so wonderfully. We all should do the same, to be completely honest with you.
You will watch them slide along the grass in slow motion 1,000 more times and be totally okay with it. Don't disagree because you know it's true. You might even want to do some knee slides of your own across your kitchen floor because of the result Juventus just got. And you know what? I will be totally okay with it, too. Knee slides for everybody!
This wasn't just the kind of result Juventus wanted, but it was also a result they needed. We knew this team had the talent and potential to get it done on the big stage, they just hadn't shown all that much just yet. That all changed Tuesday, as Juve not only fought back from a 1-0 deficit away from home, but then watched Morata give them the lead and hold on for the final 10 minutes or so.
For a team that had struggled to fight back and show that extra something to get over the hump in their previous three Serie A games, they found it in droves in Manchester. It was what we've been waiting for out of this team, and they couldn't have picked a better time to show all of us watching from near and afar what they're truly capable of.
It's not the final product, but it's a damn good start.
The amount of confidence the Juventus players — who weren't lacking confidence even with how the season began — are carrying with them back to Turin tonight must be amazing. You see the joy they had after Morata's goal and after the final whistle and you realize just how much this kind of win means to them.
Not bad for a Champions League opener, huh? Yep, not bad at all.
Fascinating sure is one way to put it, Max. And if they keep celebrating game-winning goals with knee slides, then I'm all for this fascination.
Random thoughts and observations
- If somebody tells you Gianluigi Buffon isn't the best goalkeeper in the world right now, show them this game and say nothing else. This was, for all intents and purposes, the most vintage Buffon game of all the Buffon games. He's my easy pick for Man of the Match, and it's not even close. Almost every save Buffon made was a world-class save. That double save kept Juventus in the match, and his save on Yaya Toure — which was just straight ridiculous — kept Juventus in the lead.
Greatest. Of. All. Time.
End of story.
- Speaking of vintage games, that was a vintage Paul Pogba kind of game. And in a game where Juventus really did need Pogba to be at his best. The assist on Mandzukic's goal will obviously be one of the highlights, but just the overall game Pogba had was reminiscent of so many games before. That's what Juve needed from Pogba in a game of this magnitude against an opponent like City.
- Now we can end the "Juve can't win with Pirlo, Tevez and Vidal" talk. Because they've won without Pirlo, Tevez and Vidal — and on the big stage, too.
- I wonder if Chelsea fans were watching this game going, "Hey, where was THIS Juan Cuadrado after we signed him for all that money?" What an impact he's made in such a short period of time already.
- That was a foul on Vincent Kompany. We all know it. Except for the guys who actually make the decisions on what's a foul and what isn't.
- Stefano Sturaro's night started with turnovers, giveaways and a lot of overall sluggishness. Against a speedy team like City, he was a half-step behind when he couldn't afford to be. But as time went on, he grew into the match. He had some huge tackles in the second half as Man City looked to get a second goal. We talk about the team needing confidence, and the same can be said for Sturaro individually.
- Álvaro Morata is starting to become a goal-scoring force in the Champions League. Think about it. These are the teams he's scored goals against in the Champions League in the calendar year of 2015:
Borussia Dortmund. Real Madrid (again and again). Barcelona. Manchester City.
That's pretty impressive, folks. Pretty, pretty impressive.
- That's how it's done, fellas. That's how it's done.