I guess, with the way Sunday afternoon’s game get underway as Andrea Barzagli had to be stretchered off all of two minutes in, we should have seen something like this coming. And it’s not like Juventus were coming off a world-beating performance in the middle of the week anyway, having through away a late lead against Lyon in a crucial Champions League group stage fixture.
This team didn’t arrive in Verona in the best form, and it’s not like they’re leaving it in any better of shape.
Juventus’ performance against Chievo didn’t even come close to being very good as the five-time defending Serie A champions’ continued to deliver lackluster showings against teams they should have no difficulty in beating whatsoever. But thanks to Miralem Pjanic and his brilliant free kick with just over 16 minutes remaining on the clock in the second half, Juventus were able to escape the Bentegodi with a 2-1 win and remain a comfortable margin atop the Serie A table in front of Roma, Napoli and the rest of the trailing pack.
Nope, won’t do it.
DON’T PJANIC JUST YET.
Sorry. But it’s almost like I had a good feeling about things before Mire stepped up to the ball and delivered as pretty of a free kick as he’s put forward in a Juventus jersey.
Zona Pjanic— BWRAO (@JuventusNation) November 6, 2016
I’ll be here all week. (Although not after this goes live because I’m sleepy.)
Again, as we’ve come to see from this team as of late, there was not much right to boast about. For all of the good that the Pjanic free kick and Mario Mandzukic’s opener provided, Juventus again struggled to do much of anything right. They looked disjointed, they lacked ruthlessness and weren’t clinical in front of goal and, as has unfortunately become a pretty regular occurrence over the last few weeks, the defense has one or two moments of absolute (insert frustratingly true word here) and gives the opposition a legitimate chance.
At this point it’s easy to say that Juventus is not living up to its potential.
But hey, they got three points, so I guess things could have been worse.
(Yes, because they could have. Thank you, Mire.)
It seems weird to say considering how I feel about them, but maybe it’s a good thing the international break has arrived. This team needs to get healthy, this team needs to get right in terms of what it needs to achieve on the field. And, maybe more importantly, this team just needs to recharge its batteries with some incredibly important games on the schedule before the holiday break arrives.
International breaks may still be annoying, but let’s just hope Juventus make good use of it over the next two weeks.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- An injury in the first minute. Just when you thought you’ve seen just about everything when it comes to this team and injuries ... yep.
- At this point, Max Allegri has a pair of natural right backs who don’t defend very well at all. I don’t know about you guys, but Stephan Lichtsteiner’s regression from very good player to so-so at best is a pretty quick and unfortunate development. Maybe it’s a good thing that contract of his is coming to an end at the conclusion of the season.
- Gigi Buffon made one save, and it was freakin’ fantastic.
- Stefano Sturaro ... what you doin’ in front of goal, man? Or, better yet, what you doin’ in general, man? Not exactly a good couple of games this week for Sturaro to try and change the opinion of some who feel like he’s not up to Juve standard.
- I will never get tired of seeing Mandzukic work his socks off while playing in a game for Juventus. It’s even better when he scores goals because it’s the perfect reward for all of the work he puts in throughout the game. He’s got the perfect kind of attitude, and a player that has so much value for this team even though he won’t be a regular starter once again whenever Paulo Dybala does come back from his current injury.
- Life, death and Sergio Pellissier scoring a goal against Juventus.
- In all seriousness, when it comes to Pjanic’s goal, I just had a gut feeling that something good was going to happen. We haven’t seen his wizardry from a free kick situation yet this season. But holy cow, both of those free kicks in the second half were pretty remarkable. The first one obviously made the difference on the scoreboard, but the second one, which Stefano Sorrentino was able to get to and save at the far post, might have been even better if it found the back of the net. Not many teams can say they have two of the best free kick takers in Europe on their roster, but Juventus can.
- What’s the over/under on injuries Juventus players pick up over the international break? Okay, okay. I’ll shut up now.