For 25 minutes, Juventus did a lot right except for one major thing — they were absolutely trash in the final third of the field. Crosses were being fired into the feet of defenders or easily cleared out without much danger at all. All Bologna had to do was resent and ready themselves for the next round of Juventus players sending the ball forward from the midfield or defense.
Then, in what seemed like the blink of an eye or the snap of one’s fingers, it all changed — and for the better, too.
It all started on the right foot of Miralem Pjanic, as Juve’s midfield maestro went from a so-so opening 20 minutes to being the hub of both of his team’s first-half goals. His free kick — with a little bit of help from Antonio Mirante’s hands — opened the scoring and then his peach of a pass to Mario Mandzukic just a few minutes later proved to be all Juve needed in their 3-0 win over Bologna on Sunday afternoon.
The drab opening moments of the first half were long forgotten.
Instead, Juventus simply did what a lot of people expect of them when they’re playing a side like Bologna that’s sitting in the bottom half of the table.
And that’s to play well in just about every aspect of the game and pick up three points.
With Pjanic leading the way, Juventus only seemed to get better as the game went on. Obviously, it helped when you don’t start very well because there’s only one way to go but up, but once it clicked for Juve, Bologna just didn’t have any kind of answer.
That’s what you want in a game like this. You don’t want Bologna hanging around and being close to making a game of it. Instead, you want to see happen what took place in the first half — Juventus getting a nice lead and then putting the game out of reach after halftime.
Job done. Three points captured. Onto the next one.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Pre-game thought No. 1: Prepare yourself for more Paulo Dybala exit rumors over the next week or two. Him not being in the starting lineup for a second straight game is going to become a thing with the media and they are going to absolutely run with it no matter what Max Allegri or Dybala himself say over the next few days.
- Pre-game thought No. 2: It doesn’t technically have to do with the starting lineup, but ... MARKO PJACA BACK. (He’s on the bench.)
- Pre-game thought No. 3: lololololol milan
- God, when Pjanic has everything clicking and is doing things like he did after his rough start to the game, it’s so fun to watch. It doesn’t matter if he’s scoring from a free kick or setting somebody up, it’s just poetry in motion and he makes it look so easy.
- Blaise Matuidi, please stay in the starting lineup. You add so much to this team and you’re allowing Pjanic do what he does so well, too.
- Medhi Benatia and Andrea Barzagli barely did anything wrong on Sunday. Again, Benatia’s form has made the absence of Daniele Rugani in the starting lineup a little easier to take as the games go by. Max Allegri has shown faith in Benatia, and he’s starting to really repay his manager these days.
- I said it on Twitter, but I’ll say it here, too: If the Mattia De Sciglio we’ve seen the last couple of weeks is the one that we’re going to see more often than not as the season goes on, then I’m going to be totally okay with him being Juve’s regular right back.
- And since I’ve mentioned the other three Juventus defenders, I guess I’ll just say that Alex Sandro was pretty solid against Bologna. Based on how his season has gone the last few months, being “pretty solid” is a lot better than what was previously going on.
- When Mattia Destro was subbed off early in the second half, he officially had the fewest touches of anybody on the field. That includes Wojciech Szczesny. If that doesn’t sum up how things went for Bologna, well, I don’t really know what does.
- A suggestion for those who broadcast Juventus games: Whenever Douglas Costa has the ball and there’s open space in front of him, just start clocking him with a radar gun so we can see how fast he’s running.
- Federico Bernardeschi ... subbed on ... before the 80th minute ... does not compute.
- Have I mentioned yet that all three of Juventus’ goals were pretty?
- Because they were pretty.
- The one complaint about Sunday’s game: Juventus are up 3-0 and in complete control. Doesn’t that seem like it would be a decent time to get Marko Pjaca some minutes? I know I’m not Juventus’ manager, but that seems like a decent time to get Pjaca some minutes in what would be his first appearance since his major knee injury in March.
- What I did like is that even when it was 3-0 and nearly to stoppage time, Juventus were still looking for goals. They could have shut it down and gone into cruise control. But nope, that wasn’t happening.
- Guess who’s one point out of first place again? It rhymes with “Roo-wen-dus,” I think.