At this point, I would like to think that Lazio are getting quite sick of Juventus coming to the Stadio Olimpico and winning games. But as we saw Wednesday night in the quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia, what Lazio is tired doesn't always equal results for the Biancocelesti.
Thanks to a familiar face in the form of Stephan Lichtsteiner, a familiar kind of scoreline went down at the Olimpico — again. First the Supercoppa, then the regularly scheduled visit in Serie A last month and now the Coppa Italia. It involved Juventus winning, Lazio losing and in this case, the extra bonus of Juve advancing to the semifinals of the Coppa Italia.
I wasn't the only one thinking "DON'T BLAST IT OVER THE BAR! DON'T BLAST IT OVER THE BAR!" after SImone Zaza's shot clanged off the post and went rolling right up to Lichtsteiner. Instead, the former Lazio right back pretty much did the exact opposite. That was as much of a finesse as Lichtsteiner will probably ever have in his career. And while we were almost close to a 'Gol di Lichtsteiner' moment like another memorable goal that wasn't back in the day, goal line technology confirmed what we all knew.
And now Juventus get to continue to compete on three fronts just as they did a season ago.
We get to extra Derby d'Italia matchups in the semifinals, with the first leg coming in seven days. That's a quick turnaround considering how crowded the schedule already is. The good thing is, though, this team has proven it can handle three games within the span of seven or eight days because of the depth it has. Max Allegri might not want to call it rotating his squad, but he's handle things quite well over the last couple of months.
That was proven again Wednesday night.
Sure, it wasn't the prettiest game — see some of Zaza's finishing in front of goal — but Juventus did exactly what they needed to do. And that's win it. Not exactly a newfound phenomena at the Olimpico, but something that won't ever — EVER! — get to be a tiresome occurrence.
#Lichtsteiner: "I was very happy to score tonight's decisive goal. We should however have gone on to put the game to bed..." #LazioJuve— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) January 20, 2016
Random thoughts and observations
- Neto has played three games this season. He has had to make zero saves.
And we used to talk about Gigi Buffon stealing game checks because of how little he had to do...
- It just brings me so much joy that it was Lichtsteiner scoring the goal that knocked Lazio out of the Coppa Italia. Based on the "reception" he got as he was subbed off for Juan Cuadrado, I'm pretty sure that the Olimpico crowd wanted anybody but Lichtsteiner to score the goal that would see Juve advance.
- We like to talk about work rate a lot around here because it's a big part of the famed Juve "grinta" we love so much. At one point in the game, Allegri had a battering ram-like team out there with the likes of Lichtsteiner, Zaza, Stefano Sturaro, Mario Mandzukic, Giorgio Chiellini and so on. Those aren't just players that want to win the ball back against you. They want to run right through you in the process.
- Zaza, especially, is starting to really find his niche as a part-time starter/impact kind of sub. Sure, being a striker is more than just effort. You gotta score goals, too, obviously. But how hard he works and how he is creating scoring chances whenever he plays is the important part here. Usually it's against a somewhat tired defense, but Wednesday night's effort was pretty good. He just keeps running and running and running. No wonder Allegri wants to keep him around.
- Paulo Dybala almost scored on his first touch of the game. He almost scored on his third touch of the game. Within about three minutes, Dybala almost gave Juventus a 3-0 lead. What a beautiful, beautiful person he is. And a pretty good player, too.
- Álvaro Morata hasn't scored a goal in nearly 1,000 minutes of game time. But he's got something to build on with how he played in the second half. I know, i know, he needs a goal. That thing is incredibly obvious even if his total of minutes played without one was half of what it is right now. He just needs something to go right for him these days, that's all.
- Now that Lazio are out of the Coppa Italia, can Juve acquire Alessandro Matri for future use? Just curious.
- Roma on Sunday, Inter in the first leg of the Coppa semifinals next Wednesday. The big games just keep on coming. I don't know about you, but it's good to see this team continuing to prove that the way they started the season was just a little blip on the radar and not something that would carry on for the majority of the season.