If you wanted your latest example about how Juventus don’t make things easy on themselves in the Champions League, Tuesday night’s trip to the Parc Olympique Lyonnais was surely it. And once Mario Lemina was sent off early in the second half, that’s pretty much as tough as you can make yourselves without falling behind a couple of goals in the process.
Luckily for all of the heart-attack worthy moments, there were two equally impressive things that took place: Gianluigi Buffon was on straight God Mode from the opening whistle, and Juan Cuadrado pulled an absolute rabbit out of his hat and scored from an angle that you rarely see players score from.
Those two things, those two very important things, are why Juventus are going to be leaving France with a 1-0 win over Lyon and heading back to Italy still atop Group H. If not for Buffon’s absolute heroics in goal, Juve don’t keep a clean sheet. And if not for the rocket off Cuadrado’s right foot, Juventus likely don’t find the back of the net and get a draw against Lyon at the very best.
But let’s be honest for a second here, folks: As great as Cuadrado’s goal was, this was all about Buffon being Buffon.
Some said he was starting to fade after mistakes in back-to-back games. Buffon, who said earlier in the day that “It’s fun when people want to hold your funeral and then you prove them wrong,” had other ideas.
I’ll take two decades worth of work over two mistakes in the span of three games for country and club, thank you very much.
As I sat and watched Juve’s 2-1 comeback win over Udinese, all the two announcers could talk about was how Buffon’s confidence looks rattled and that was basically accompanied with a worrisome kind of tone of voice. That was before made that last-ditch save right in front of the goal line in the dying minutes. And that was obviously no sign of what Buffon’s future had in store for him on Tuesday night and going forward the rest of the season.
The sign of the true greats? They make a mistake and then they’re right back to being the player we’re clearly used to seeing the vast majority of the time.
Buffon’s mistake against Spain last week was bad. The inability to make the save on Udinese’s goal over the weekend wasn’t all that good, either. But Tuesday night, that’s Buffon in every sense of who he is. When there’s a circumstance or a situation in the game that means he has to pretty much put the team on his back and pick up points, he is more than capable of doing exactly that.
Being 38 years old creates an easy narrative when you make an uncharacteristic mistake. How you respond to it is the key. And I’m pretty sure that Buffon responded to his miscues about as well as anybody could have expected him to. That’s why he’s the gold standard — and we are never going to get tired of that being true.
Aren’t you happy that Superman continues to be on our side? I know I am.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- I’m still wondering how Buffon made some of those saves. Seriously, that was the perfect night in goal from the GOAT. You can’t do better than that.
- Didier Deschamps was in the stands for Juventus-Lyon. Just in case you were wondering, this is the reaction he had to Cuadrado’s game-winning goal.
- No, but really, how did Cuadrado score from that angle?
- Half-hour after the match is over and these guys are still hanging around.
- Sure, it’s easy pickins based on what happened in the second half, but I guess this was another example of why, at least right now, Lemina is more suited for a Mezz'ala kind of role rather than a holding midfielder. You look at how he’s played the last few times playing on either side of Hernanes and then how he’s done as a holding midfielder
- Basically, this means Claudio Marchisio can’t come back soon enough.
- Gonzalo Higuain had one of Juventus’ best scoring chances of the night on a header that somehow went from somewhat chipped cross from Dani Alves to testing Lyon keeper Anthony Lopes’ reaction time. It was pretty remarkable how Higuain could get that much pace on the ball considering the cross didn’t really have much speed behind it. Something tells me this Higuain guy might be pretty good.
- Why does Max Allegri have both Miralem Pjanic and Paulo Dybala standing over corners a good portion of the time? This is something I am struggling to understand.
- Medhi Benatia had a couple of big tackles after he came on late in the second half. I don’t know about you guys, but I’d be totally okay if he gets more playing time over the next month or two.
- Dani Alves, kinda meh again tonight.
- With Sevilla beating Dinamo Zagreb by the same 1-0 scoreline, all remains the same in Group H in terms of who’s atop the table. The one difference, obviously, is that there’s now a little bit of room between the top two teams and the bottom two teams.
- Gianluigi Buffon is the best of all time. Just thought I’d say that one more time before ending this post.