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Juventus 2 - Benevento 1: Initial reaction and random observations

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Juventus v Benevento Calcio - Serie A Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

Where to start, where to start...

Benevento rolled into Turin on Sunday afternoon arguably the worst team Serie A has seen in years. In their first 11 games of the 2017-18 campaign, not only had they failed to pick up a win and were on a historic pace for consecutive losses to open a season, but they had allowed 29 goals over that span. Do the math real quick and that’s nearly three goals allowed per game. That’s not good — at all.

Yet, as Juventus and their beautiful 120th anniversary jerseys went into the locker room, the scoreline was as follows:

Benevento 1, Juventus 0.

I don’t get it, either.

Even as Juventus made its comeback and went on to claim a 2-1 win over Benevento thanks to second-half goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Juan Cuadrado, nothing was made to be easy or pretty. (Although both of Juve’s goals were actually quite pretty.)

This wasn’t the complete effort that was the Milan win one weekend ago. It wasn’t anything close to a good win. It was the definition of winning ugly, taking the three points and probably never speaking of what just happened over the previous two hours again.

The thing is, it’s not like we can just throw it away as Juve having an off day against a team that they pretty much knew they were going to beat even before the ball was kicked off.

Juventus dominated possession Sunday afternoon. They dominated the shot count. They dominated in just about every statistical category there is. But when it came to the actual performance and their ability to take advantage of a completely disorganized defense that was coughing up mistakes right and left, Juve seemingly couldn’t do much of anything right.

That’s why a team with no wins to its name almost came away with a point — and maybe more — against Juventus at Allianz Stadium.

Juventus didn’t play well at all. Their form continues to be described as completely meh at the very best. That’s no secret at this point.

But hey, at least they looked good. That’s because of their anniversary kits, that is.

RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS

  • Starting lineup thought No. 1: CLAUDIO BACK
  • Starting lin1eup thought No. 2: RUGANI BACK
  • Starting lineup thought No. 3: FEDE BA ... Oh, no, not that. I guess playing the worst team in Serie A this season still isn’t enough for Bernardeschi to get a start.
  • That being said, I want to congratulate Federico Bernardeschi on his 10 minutes of game time against Benevento. He’s really getting a chance to show he can shine!
  • New (yet old) jersey thoughts: I’m in love.
  • Biggest stat from the first half had nothing to do with how many scoring chances Juventus continued to blow. It was the fact that Benevento was up 1-0 and didn’t have a single touch inside of Juventus’ box. That’s just wild.
  • Mr. Higuain’s getting going again. Five goals in his last four games kind of going. He’s still scuffing some really good scoring chances, but he’s also scoring some really, really good goals like he did on Sunday with that beautiful side-volley of his to tie the game up. It sounds weird to say that he’s wasteful yet still completely decisive at the same time, but that’s kinda what he’s doing right now.
  • I feel like this was a classic Cuadrado kind of match if there ever was one. With that I mean he did some good things like score the game-winning goal with a very good header off a very good Alex Sandro cross. But, before that, he did some not-very-good things and wasted some very, very good scoring chances. You could say that about just about all of Juve’s attacking players on Sunday, but when it comes to Cuadrado, there’s always going to be as much cold as there is hot to his game. That’s just how it is, folks.
  • You know who was one of Juventus’ best players ended up being, especially in the second half? That’s Claudio Marchisio. And when Claudio Marchisio plays well, Juventus usually end up winning games. It’s funny how that works out.
  • You know who also was one of Juventus best players against Benevento? That’s Daniele Rugani. And when Daniele Rugani plays well, Juventus usually ends up winning games. It’s funny how that works out.
  • Gonna go ahead and steal a tweet I posted earlier and copy/past it here: Rodrigo Bentancur is good.
  • Douglas Costa was one of Juve’s most dangerous players in the first half but faded as the game went on. Still, if how he played in the first 30 or 40 minutes is what we’re going to see the majority of the time when he’s on the field and feeling good, then he’s going to add a dynamic that no other Juve winger currently can provide.
  • Wojciech Szczesny pulled an old Gigi Buffon move and played 90 minutes without having to do much of anything at all.
  • But, Woj, next time there’s a free kick, might want to check on your wall. If Marchisio was about another foot to his right he not only would have been completely even with the near post, but also right in the path of what ended up being Benevento’s only shot on goal.
  • We really do need to do some research and find out Juventus’ win percentage when Giorgio Chiellini needs to get his head wrapped because he’s bleeding. Without any kind of evidence or anything like that, I would like to think that it’s gotta be pretty good.
  • Torino did their job.
  • Chievo did their job, too.
  • Juventus won ugly as hell, got three points and then saw two teams in front of them in the standings drop points. We head into the international break with Juve just one single point behind Napoli. I mean, it could be worse.