On a night where Juventus were playing without two of their best strikers, leave it up to one of their central defenders to score one of the biggest goals of the season to date.
Leonardo Bonucci’s 83rd-minute left-footed rocket of a strike — with the help of a slight deflection — gave Juventus the lead once and for all against 10-man Sevilla. Thrown in Mario Mandzukic’s stoppage-time goal and Juve, maybe not totally deserved based on how they played through the entire game, were able to claim a 3-1 win and both leapfrog Tuesday night’s opposition to take over the top spot in Group H and book their spot in the Champions League knockout stage.
It was not pretty.
Not even close to it, actually.
Juventus were without two of their best strikers — and it looked like it.
Juventus, even up a man, were playing a little too conservative — and it looked like it.
No, seriously, Juventus were struggling to generate much of any kind of offense even after Franco Vazquez was sent off for two very much deserved yellow cards. I understand that Sevilla are a solid defensive team and pretty much embody the mentality of their ultra-intense manager Jorge Sampaoli, who also got sent off on Tuesday night. But Juventus, even without the likes of Dybala and Higuain, still had enough talent on paper to at least do something going forward.
And yet, it was an absolute struggle. It was an absolute grind. Juve were way too stagnant in attack, with players just standing around while one of their teammates was on the ball in Sevilla’s half of the field on more than just a few occasions.
Yet somehow, the final score read 3-1 in favor of Juventus.
I have no idea how anything of this happened. I sit here writing this post-game thread thinking that with the quality of Juve’s performance that they don’t deserve the three points at all. But they got the three points. I guess that’s a good thing considering Sevilla entered the game as one of two teams to have not allowed a goal through the first four group stage games.
Terrible performance aside, we sit here after Tuesday’s results and Juventus is atop the group and once again have their own fate in their hands. That’s better than the alternative, I suppose. I don’t really know how Juventus were able to score three goals against Sevilla, but they did. And hey, they got the win, so that’s a good thing.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Juventus did not play very well. Seriously, they did not play very well at all.
- A happy thought? Leonardo Bonucci is a wonderful, wonderful player and I am so happy that he is a Juventus player. Give that man as long of a contract extension as he wants. He should never wear another team’s colors in his career.
- Just in case you were wondering, Gigi Buffon ain’t havin’ any of Sevilla’s post-game nonsense. God I love that guy.
- Dani Alves is such a frustrating player to watch sometimes. I have no idea how he finished with one of Juve’s highest pass success percentages (96) in the game based on simply watching him turn the ball over a handful of times in the first half. And while I know he’s not directly responsible for Sevilla’s opener, but Nico Pareja was Alves’ man before he was drawn back inside after Daniele Rugani’s attempted clearance wasn’t totally knocked out of trouble. But I guess seeing Alves have issues on defense shouldn’t be a shock to us at this point. He’s never been a defensive-minded fullback.
- WE GOT TO SEE MOISE KEAN PLAY IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE!
- Seriously, Moise Kean played in a Champions League game where Juventus came back and won it. Who had that taking place when the season began back in August?
- There was a point in the first half where pretty much anything positive Juventus did offensively was involving Juan Cuadrado down the right wing. Getting Cuadrado involved is good. But it’s also a case where Cuadrado’s game can sometimes leave something to be desired. You win some, you lose some.
- Who else gets filled with joy whenever they see Claudio Marchisio score a goal and he immediately starts putting his right hand to the Juventus crest on his jersey? I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.
- Juventus closes out the group stage at home in a couple of weeks against a Dinamo Zagreb team that has been outscored 13-0 in their first five Champions League games this season. If Juve can’t win that one...