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Juventus 3 - Atalanta 1: Initial reaction and random observations

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Juventus FC v Atalanta BC - Serie A Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

So, how did you all like that for a direct response to one of Juventus’ worst losses in years?

We wanted a positive response from Juventus, and that’s exactly what we got. It was a classic kind of Juventus performance that led to a 2-0 halftime lead, as goals from defenders Alex Sandro and Daniele Rugani helped the Serie A leaders get back on the right foot and beat red-hot Atalanta 3-1 in Turin on Saturday night.

You wanted this team to show an improved product, you got it.

You wanted this team to show the grinta of old, you got it.

You wanted this team to really show the kind of potential that it has, you got that, too.

Against a team that was starting to become everybody’s darlings thanks to a two-month-long unbeaten run, Juventus put forth one of the best showings they’ve had all season. There’s no way around it, really. It was as complete of a game as Max Allegri’s squad has delivered in months, maybe all season. The switch to a 4-3-1-2 proved to be the thing that this team needed. And it worked like absolute magic, clicking this team back into the demolition derby-like mode that we haven’t seen all that often during the first three months of the 2016-17 season.

That guy sure does know what he’s talking about. Maybe we should ask him what his opinions are on Juventus-related things more often.

I can’t say it enough: This was a complete performance. Offense, defense, everything. Defense, midfield, attack, everything. Outside of Juventus not being able to keep a clean sheet, go ahead and try to find a truly weak point in this game — I dare you to. You see the way the whole team worked, you see the way Mario Mandzukic threw himself at shots and worked his tail off like an absolute battering ram, it was a sign that this team can not only snap out of the funk they’ve been in for much of the season, but also do it in relatively quick fashion. (Hopefully.)

It was not only the kind of performance we wanted to see from Juventus, but also the kind of showing they needed to start this incredibly important stretch to close out the calendar year of 2016.

That was fun. Let’s do this kind of thing again in a couple of days against Dinamo Zagreb with the top spot in the Champions League group at stake.

RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
  • I had a major hunch that Allegri was going to go with a 3-5-2 formation and that would be that. I was wrong.
  • I had a major hunch that Allegri was going to give Juan Cuadrado another start. I was wrong.
  • Based on how things went, I am completely okay with it.
  • Who here would be okay with Juventus investing some money in the likes of Franck Kessie and Mattia Caldera? Because I would be totally okay with it.
  • Mandzukic’s work rate is unbelievable. I know I’ve said it before, but this was the kind of game — especially in the first half — where it was so incredibly important to what Juventus was able to do. Man of the Match and the discussion ends right there.
  • A case can be made for Alex Sandro being one of the best left backs in the world today. And yet, for whatever reason that is still unknown to some, he still can’t break into the Brazilian national team. Sure, there may be a couple of dudes ahead of him in the pecking order right now, but dammit if Sandro played for another other country he would probably have 50 international caps by now. What a freakin’ player he is.
  • GIORGIO CHIELLINI MADE IT THROUGH AN ENTIRE GAME AND DIDN’T GET HURT.
  • We’ve talked about how Gonzalo Hugain’s role has changed with Paulo Dybala being out injured. On Saturday he showed that his distribution skills are pretty damn good, too. He didn’t get a goal, but he certainly played his part in a handful of scoring chances. It was definitely a good day for the €90 million man — as was the case for pretty much everybody associated with Juventus.
  • I am going to make a request, and that is going to be for Miralem Pjanic to play as the ‘1’ in the 4-3-1-2 much more often, Max. That is the player Juventus signed from Roma over the summer. He was brilliant.
  • Atalanta came in as the darlings of Serie A and being talked about as a under-the-radar contender for a European spot. They left Turin like so many other teams have in years past. There’s a reason why Juventus Stadium is a gosh dang fortress. There’s a reason why Juventus have won 24 straight league games at home. They showed that on Saturday night, that’s for sure.