We sat here Sunday wondering what Juventus’ response would be to not only loss against Fiorentina, but also one of their worst performances of the season. Three days later, we sat here wondering what Juventus could do for an encore following a revitalizing kind of showing against Lazio.
It became pretty clear pretty quick what the answer was.
Juventus held a 2-0 lead after just under 20 minutes on Sunday. On Wednesday night against Milan in the quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia? It was pretty much the same type of deal, with absolutely beautiful goals from Paulo Dybala — with his right foot, no less! — and Miralem Pjanic within the game’s first 21 minutes leading the way for the two-time defending Coppa Italia holders.
The one common denominator in all of this? The crazy idea of a 4-2-3-1 formation.
The sample size is small, sure. But this Juventus, the way Max Allegri has set things up the last two games with a very attack-minded kind of formation, looks so much more of a capable and productive of doing things once things truly start to click. And yes, things haven’t truly clicked yet because this is only the second game within a four-day period in which Allegri has trotted out this formation with pretty much the same personnel outside of a couple of spots.
But you can see the potential is there. Juventus was damn good for a second consecutive opening 45 minutes. The second half wasn’t exactly as glamorous — especially after Milan went down a man following Manuel Locatelli getting his second yellow card of the night — but I guess it’s only natural to ease up a little bit knowing you’ve got the advantage in your favor. (They still should have scored a third goal, by the way. And they weren’t lacking for chances.)
I’m going to choose to focus on what is the bigger deal here — the progression of this team over the last week. Can you remember a time where Juventus has played well in back-to-back games? Go ahead and try it. If there is a list, it isn’t that long at all. We talked about the start-stop nature of how this season has gone, so to see Juventus actually build off a really good showing and take another step in the right direction was quite the pleasant change from the alternative.
You get the early lead, you’re able to do some things. Juventus were able to do some things, score a couple of pretty goals along the way and that’s why things have gone so well over the last 180 minutes or so.
Keep on doing what you’ve been doing, Juventus — especially in the first half of games. This is starting to look like something that has plenty of potential. So yeah, why wouldn’t we want Juventus to keep this going?
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- This is your reminder that Gigi Donnarumma is still SEVENTEEN YEARS OLD.
- It seems like whomever Daniele Rugani is teamed with in the center of Juventus’ backline this season he has proven to be quite a calming presence in defense. Not only shows that he’s a pretty damn good player at the tender age of 22, but he’s able to adjust to playing next to different center backs with much different attributes, too.
- Pjanic isn’t quite there YET, but he’s becoming close to Andrea Pirlo levels in terms of his free kicks and having them be nearly automatic.
- Dybala is starting to look like that Dybala of last season when he seemingly scored every time he stepped onto the field. We know that when he’s in hot goal-scoring form, he’s in really hot goal-scoring form. Four goals in his last five games is starting to resemble that kind of hot goal-scoring form. That’s the Dybala we know and love.
- Neto made two saves on Wednesday night. It was really, really good.
- Shoutout to Kwadwo Asamoah, who has looked pretty darn good as a left back the last couple of weeks. With Patrice Evra now officially heading back to France to play with Olympique Marseille, having a productive backup to Alex Sandro sure will be a nice change of pace compared to Evra’s contributions this season.
- As much as we need to compliment Allegri for the formation switch over the last couple of games, his substitutions against Milan left a whole lot to be desired. Taking off Dybala for Sandro with the game kinda-sorta hanging in the balance? I don’t know about that one.
- Can you imagine the good vibes that would have been filling our hearts if Mario Mandzukic had put away one — or both — of those second-half scoring chances that just went wide of Donnarumma’s goal? Man, if only Mandzukic had finished those chances like he has been defending lately...
- Juventus vs. Napoli in the semifinals. Gee, that won’t be emotional or interesting at all. Nope, not at all. Especially not over a two-legged cup tie.