Even as Juventus wasted chance after chance in the first half of Sunday night’s 3-0 win over Crotone, there was never the feeling in my gut where I thought “Juve are really in trouble here.” Maybe it was due to the fact that they were playing against Crotone, a team that is far from even being an average kind of attack in terms of quality in Serie A. Maybe it was because Juventus weren’t actually playing that poorly and it only seemed like Crotone had the ball for a minute or two combined.
Yet, even with the first-half struggles in front of goal, the second half showing was much improved. And, because of it, there’s no stressing about how Juve got their three points. It was relatively routine after Mario Mandzukic opened the scoring early in the second half.
And, what do you know, we could actually sit back and watch the final 25 minutes and not have to worry about Juve holding their one-goal lead against a team that is struggling to pick up points like Crotone has been for the better part of this season.
Funny how when Juventus shows a sense of urgency for a good amount of time they end up finding the back of the net. And they didn’t wait until the final 10 minutes of the game to show that sense of urgency, either, which is nice.
But after all of the so-so outings of recent weeks, a relatively thorough and convincing win — while, admittedly, not always the prettiest — seemed to be quite welcomed.
Put it you this way...
Would you have rather watched what Juventus did a couple of weeks ago against another relegation battler in the form of Benevento?
Or would you have rather sat back and watched Mandzukic, Mattia De Sciglio and Medhi Benatia score second-half goals to quickly turn a scoreless game at halftime into a completely one-sided affair?
I think I know which one I would pick.
It’s the one that involves three games, three points, a shutout and a win. What say you?
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- We figured that Benedikt Howedes was going to be a versatile defender used in different spots along the Juve backline once he eventually got healthy and made his debut. But I don’t think seeing him in the center of a back three was something I even considered as the Italian media started to talk about Howedes making his Juventus debut on Sunday. Yet there he was come the opening whistle, right in the middle of Juve’s 3-4-2-1 formation. And, as time went on, he looked pretty darn comfortable.
Obviously facing Crotone at Allianz Stadium is not going to be the most difficult game when it comes to defending based on the fact that they were always going to sit back and defend much more often than they were going to attack. That’s why it made sense to start him in such a low-pressure kind of situation. Now we get to finally see how he’s utilized going forward. But we do know that it gives Max Allegri more options. And options are good.
- De Sciglio will go down as scoring one of the best Juventus goals of the season this year. Go ahead and wrap your head around that for a couple of minutes.
- Also, in case you didn’t hear, that was De Sciglio’s first-ever senior level goal. Not a bad one, that.
- I would like to request that people go back and watch the final five or 10 seconds before Mandzukic’s goal broke the scoreless deadlock and notice how Claudio Marchisio kept the whole thing alive with some nifty footwork to prevent a Crotone clearance. There are games where Marchisio just flies under the radar and does things that nobody really notices unless you’re completely focused on him and only him. This was not one of those games. He was just about everywhere, and that’s a good thing to see.
- For the second straight start, Douglas Costa was one of Juventus’ best players on the field. I sure as hell would like it if this trend of Douglas Costa in Juve’s starting lineup continues, because it seems to be working well for him.
- There is just something that brings me joy watching Stephan Lichtsteiner rolling over and over for about 10 or 15 feet after somebody commits a foul on him. I know it can be looked at as total bush league and something you shouldn’t do, but it amuses me.
- Blaise Matuidi could have easily had two goals against Crotone. But his finishing in the first half kinda summed up Juve’s finishing in the first half.
- Gigi Buffon had to make one save. It was a very good save.
- It’s onto the Napoli showdown on Friday night. I am going to go out on a limb and say that game is going to be slightly more intense than this most recent Juventus game.