After two trips to Juventus Stadium within about a month, I think it’s pretty safe to say that, at this point, Atalanta are quite happy that they’re done traveling to Turin this season.
Just as was the case in last month’s visit to Juve’s fortress in Turin, the Bergamo-based side found itself down 2-0 at halftime. And just like in that visit to Turin five weeks ago, Atlanta found themselves allowing three goals — one each to Paulo Dybala, Mario Mandzukic and Miralem Pjanic — and leaving Juventus Stadium on the wrong side of the final score, this time in the Coppa Italia Round of 16 on Wednesday night.
What started as a snow-filled day in Turin turned into yet another dominant showing from the reigning Serie A and Coppa Italia champions. At least for a good amount of the time. Just as was the case when Atalanta visited Turin in Serie A competition last month, Juventus were ahead 3-1 at one point and looked to be in control of things because of some wonderful attacking play — most notably by the partnership of Dybala and Mandzukic who just so happened to assist each others’ goals on Wednesday.
The problem was this time is that Juve did make things a little more interesting than anybody with black and white rooting interests would have liked it to be. Was that the result of Juve switching off the pressure a little bit and subsequently allowing Atalanta to get back into the game and cut the deficit in half on two separate occasions? Was that the result of Atalanta actually getting into the game and being able to create something on the offensive end of things? Or was it all of the above?
Let the discussion begin.
A little more exciting — at least with what Atalanta did — than a lot of us would have liked, but hey, Juventus are moving on in the Coppa Italia and that possibility of yet another domestic double is still very much alive. So that’s pretty cool, if you ask me.
Yep, sounds about right. When Juventus scores three goals, it sure would be nice for them to not have me sitting here chomping on my nails. I now have no nails, so thank you very much for that, Juventus.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Is there anybody out there who watched the first half, saw the halftime score and then thought to themselves something like, “You know, this has a 3-2 final scoreline where Juventus are holding off a second-half comeback attempt?” Because I didn’t. Nope, that thought definitely wasn’t running through my mind.
- What these two games against Gian Piero Gasperini’s squad in back-to-back months have proven something that we already know: Atalanta are a pretty good team despite these results. They have so many quality young players — as we know with Juve’s impending acquisition of defender Mattia Caldara — and have really built something really good. They’re going to make so much money off the sales of said youngsters, too.
- It doesn’t happen often for obvious reasons, but whenever Claudio Marchisio gets to wear the captain’s armband, I get warm fuzzies inside. Captain Claudio is the best kind of Claudio.
- Is the combination of Andrea Barzagli and Daniele Rugani in the center of the Juventus defense about as calming as it can get? It seems like they could have an 18-wheeler barreling right down on them both and they would pretty much stand there and figure out a way to prevent any kind of danger. They’re pretty good, those two.
- And then you have Mandzukic, Tomas Rincon, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Stefano Sturaro all on the field together in the second half. From a bullet point filled with class and nothing that shakes them to a quartet that can basically be filled under the tab of “They’re assholes, but they’re our assholes.” Talk about a group capable of being an absolute wrecking crew if they needed to be.
- Side note: I don’t know about you guys, but I’m a growing quite tired of seeing Stephan Lichtsteiner get beat by the man he’s supposed to be marking and having it end up resulting in a goal. I mean, marking your man when he’s the only guy hanging out on the back post is not that hard to do, right?
- It’s unfortunate that Marko Pjaca’s return to the field and biggest chunk of playing time this was pretty much a wash. Not that the time on the field was a bad thing considering he’s played under 100 minutes this season.
- Still, knowing the setbacks he’s had to deal with over the last few motnhs, seeing Pjaca back on the field for the first time since the second day of October was a pretty nice sight. Hopefully it’s the first of many appearances — be it as a guy off the bench of maybe, just maybe, as a starter — during the second half of the season.
- I think Hernanes was out there playing against Atalanta, but I’m not quite sure. If you saw him do something, please let me know so that I can adjust this statement.
- Juventus gets the winner of Thursday’s Milan-Torino matchup in the quarterfinals. Who you got? Who you want?