Rare is the day that your favorite football club garners goal production from both the back and front line, but that’s exactly what Juventus did over the weekend in Serie A. First, the Bianconeri’s No. 9 Moise Kean — with pinpoint precision — sent a ball past Gianluigi Donnarumma, and a few hours later center back Mattia Caldara — lurking in the six-yard box like a ravenous tiger — headed home a cross as if he were Italy’s best target forward.
So there you have it, Juventus ... wait, hold on a sec, my assistant is sliding me a note ... no ... this can’t be correct. He’s telling me that, actually, Moise Kean is just 17 years old playing for, um, Hellas Verona, which beat AC Milan 3-0 on Sunday afternoon and that Mattia Caldara is on loan at Atalanta. Could this be correct?
The future is now, apparently.
Also, Juventus beat Bologna 3-0.
A tantalizing collection of titillating tidbits.
- As soon as I saw Max Allegri’s 4-3-3 with Alex Sandro, Andrea Barzagli, Medhi Benatia, and Mattia De Sciglio on the back line, I knew the hosts wouldn’t score. I just somehow new it. The Moroccan and Italian right back are just in sublime form at the moment, the old man center back is wily enough to come up with a top performance, and although the Brazilian hasn’t been the world-beater he was a year ago he’s still really good. Oh, also Wojciech Szczęsny was in goal, and he’s also really good.
- Guess what: I was right!
- Poor, poor Paulo Dybala. That is all.
- Off topic: I made a bet with my friend (just a six-pack, but not of like Bud Light or something like that, i.e. something like Bell’s Two-Hearted, something really tasty and good) on the Real Madrid-PSG fixture. I took the Spaniards, because 1) Cristiano Ronaldo, and 2) I’m wagering that PSG will be softened in Ligue 1 for a month and that Madrid, in the fire of La Liga, will be something of a shock to the system when the two clash in February and March. Also give me Madrid’s midfield over PSG any day of the week.
- Milan are in eighth place, 18 points off the lead. That is one of the better sentences I have ever written. Also, I know you don’t want to hear this, but it’s a fact that they’re *only* nine points off Lazio and three points off sixth-place Sampdoria. They still have time (sort of) to salvage something out of the season, though if they keep playing the way they did yesterday it’s going to get much, much worse before it gets any better.
Onto the awards:
Giuseppe Garibaldi Award
For the man of the match.
Miralem Pjanic’s first goal was aided a bit by Antonio Mirante, but it was still a hell of a free kick and Juve’s most important midfielder deserved the result. The goal broke the game wide open, and it was really more or less a stroll in the park for the black and white from that point forward.
What was more impressive was Pjanic’s assist on goal No. 2: A lovely floater to Mario Mandzukic, momentarily playing the role of a target forward, whose deft touch and lethal finishing ability — both of which were conspicuously missing last week — helped him chest the ball down and send the orb soaring across net.
Three months ago, Inter needed a penalty to earn a draw against Bologna. Fun fact.
*NEW* THE SHROUD OF TURIN AWARD
For the player who’s never really there.
When I was in Turin, I went to see the Shroud. But it wasn’t there; the real one was in the back or something, for unknown Italian reasons. But the “real” Shroud, 99 percent of historians say, is not the real Shroud.
This award, therefore, is given to the player who is there but not really there, and is therefore given to Sami Khedira.
Italian Cuisine Award
For the best collective unit, given different strengths.
After so many poor performances early this year and at the end of last year, Benatia is turning in some jewels. He wasn’t perfect against Bologna, but his confidence and strength at the moment are obvious. He’s making roving runs up the midfield, using his predictive tackling to chop down opposition attacks, and wielding his athleticism to Juve’s favor in the back. All of a sudden, even with nagging injuries, etc., the center back position feels much, much better, really no matter who you throw out there. Barzagli was wonderful and tricky and tackled with great guile. Caldara will be a Juve player next year.
Things are pretty good right now, and Torino are useless.