As it turned out, Giorgio Chiellini, in his own unique way, was right on the money.
If there was one guy who had the spotlight on him, it was Gonzalo Higuain. It’s that same man who ended up deciding the final score in his first game against his former team, as Higuain’s 69th minute goal was the difference in Juventus’ 2-1 win over Napoli on Saturday night in Turin. It proved to be the kind of scenario that many Juventus supporters wanted to see happen and Napoli fans feared to the utmost degree.
And that’s exactly how it played out.
Higuain didn’t celebrate his goal. Instead, he left that up to his teammates as they crashed into Juve’s new No. 9 in the seconds following his seventh goal of the season.
But the significance of the goal couldn’t be denied.
As much as Max Allegri tried to downplay the importance of the first Juventus-Napoli showdown of the season because of the fact that it’s still October and there’s nearly 30 league games to go, Juve had left points on the table against some of their other big-game opponents. That’s basically in reference to both of the games against Milan clubs played at the San Siro this season. But it’s also the fact that any kind of slip could have seen Juve’s place atop the table put into doubt for the first time all season.
Luckily, we don’t have to worry about any of that.
Instead, Juventus got an immediate and positive reaction after Jose Callejon canceled out Leonardo Bonucci’s opener. That’s what you want your club to do after giving up a goal that they probably shouldn’t have if they didn’t fall asleep at the well on defense. And it’s certainly nice to know that Juve have a prima punta like Higuain who can go from not doing much all game to bagging the game-winning goal just like that.
I like Gonzalo Higuain being a Juventus player. That’s a fact.
.@bonucci_leo19: "This victory was what #Juve are all about. This team never gives up." #JuveNapoli #FinoAllaFine #ForzaJuve pic.twitter.com/oH3LiisKU3— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) October 29, 2016
Now if only Roma weren’t playing a team currently sitting in the relegation zone on Sunday, then maybe we could be optimistic about more chances to extend the lead in Serie A between both of the two closest competitors.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- It took 28 minutes for there to be a shot on goal. There wasn’t much rejoicing when it actually happened. Where’s your celebratory tweets, dammit?
- First half summary: I miss Paulo Dybala.
- Another first half shocker: Giorgio Chiellini, just back from injury, had to be subbed off because he got another injury. This guy, I love him, but his body is betraying him right now. The guy just can’t stay healthy for extended periods of time to save his life.
- There was more action in the first 10 minutes of the second half then there was in the entire first half. That’s not what you would call a ringing endorsement for those of you who want to go back and watch the first 45 minutes.
- Alex Sandro is the best left back Juventus has had since ______? He’s not only in great form, but he’s giving Juve a threat on the left wing that they haven’t had on a consistent basis in a long, long time. And no, just for the record, Cristian Molinaro does not come close to that.
- Anybody else notice how much Juve’s pace and quality of play improved after Claudio Marchisio replaced Miralem Pjanic in the second half? I don’t want to say that Juve are Marchisio dependent, but when you look at what they’ve done when he’s on the field this season...
- Still waiting for Pjanic to show what he’s really worth this season. Is it how Allegri is utilizing him? Is it Pjanic just not getting up to speed with his new teammates fast enough? There’s probably a multitude of reasons why Pjanic isn’t replicating the same kind of form he had when he was with Roma. Especially with Marchisio coming back into the fold over the past week, it sure would be nice if Pjanic could get things going.
- Have we reached the point where Stephan Lichtsteiner shouldn’t be starting most of the time? I love the guy, but he’s still not offering much going forward and his defending on Napoli’s goal can only be described as “crap.”
- We’re also still searching for Sami Khedira’s good form. If anybody knows where it might be located — Germany, Mallorca, anywhere else — please let us know as soon as humanly possible. I miss Good Khedira.
- Juan Cuadrado again showed that he is capable of making an impact whenever he steps onto the field this season. Allegri’s decision to go with Cuadrado to replace Chiellini might have made some scratch their heads, but it proved to be the right move and what Juventus needed. The more of Juan we get these days, the better.
- His WhoScored rating might not be the greatest, but I thought Hernanes played relatively well. A few mistakes, but the overall product was pretty good — and that’s not just because of what Juve’s other two central midfielders offered against Napoli.
- Juventus’ form at home since they last lost in Turin over a year ago: DDWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW
- Juventus have a perfect 100 percent win percentage in games that Claudio Marchisio plays in this season.