What kind of cruel torture it would have been to see Patrik Schick, the young Czech striker who almost signed for Juventus this summer, score his first goal of the season in his first appearance with Roma at Allianz Stadium. What kind of cruel torture it would have been to see that happen after Juventus were clearly the better side for most of the night. And what kind
There was just one thing preventing Schick from going from Juventus’ star striker of the future to breaking Juve’s hearts on Saturday night.
His name is Wojciech Szczesny.
Szczesny’s last-minute save on the almost-Juve signing named Schick preserved Juventus’ 1-0 win over Roma at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night. It was the pure definition of how the final 15 or 20 minutes of game time went, with Roma suddenly finding an attacking groove as Juve dropped numbers back to try and secure three more points to bring them within one point of first-place Napoli once more.
Watch it. Then watch it again. Then watch it again ... and again ... and again.
For as good as Medhi Benatia and Giorgio Chiellini were for the vast majority of Juventus’ win on Saturday night, that potential disastrous play was the complete opposite of their overall performances. It was one of their few moments of absolute madness on a night where they were so damn solid in every aspect of the game.
It resulted in Schick going one-on-one with Szczesny as the clock hit 93 minutes right on the dot.
The end result, though, was Szczesny saving Juventus’ win and securing all three points that it looked like his team would claim easily as they went in to halftime with a relatively healthy and stable 1-0 lead after Benatia’s 17th-minute goal capped a wild few seconds in the Roma penalty box.
“Stable” was nowhere close to how things ended up. Thank goodness for Woj.
I’ll play my (former) goalkeeper card every day of the week when you make a save like that. Why? Because if Schick scores, the tone of this thread and the next few days as a whole would have been incredibly different.
Instead, Woj showed us why Juve shelled out a transfer fee that could exceed over €15 million before it’s all said and done.
In the 94th minute, no less.
Makes you want to smile like you’re Max Allegri, doesn’t it?
Once I was able to stop myself from shaking due to nerves, I was sporting the same kind of smile. So that makes at least two of us.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- LOL Inter
- LOL Milan
- LOL Roma
- This has been your Serie A update for Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017. You’re welcome.
- This summed up Roma’s night for me: Daniele De Rossi goes clattering into Andrea Barzagli with his studs up, gets called for a foul, receives a yellow card because of it and then complains like he did nothing wrong. I get that it’s De Rossi and sometimes doesn’t always apply to what he’s doing on the field, but that was basically a five-second span that represented the entire 90 for the visitors.
- Paulo Dybala didn’t play a single second. The Italian press is already firing up their latest round of speculation regarding his future. Stay tuned.
- Gonzalo Higuain could have had two or three goals against Roma. Instead, he didn’t put any one of his six shots on target. I feel like Higuain did just about everything right he could have done except for scoring a goal against Roma. Sometimes there are going to be games like that. Yes, even for a striker as good as Higuain.
- Blaise Matuidi completed 91 percent of his passes, led the team in tackles, and ran about 1,500 miles against Roma. (That last number might be slightly exaggerated.) I have no idea if the 4-3-3 formation is here to stay, but getting Matuidi and all the energy he brings to the team back into the starting lineup has certainly played a big part in Juve’s revival over the last month.
- Benatia and Chiellini combined for EIGHTEEN clearances against Roma. I’m not math major, but something tells me that’s a lot and that they were crucial for Juventus keeping all three points.
- Same goes for Mario Mandzukic, who had to shake off a hard knock to his knee and looked absolutely gassed even before stoppage time arrived. But there he was, as the clock was winding down, making a diving header at the near post to clear the ball out for a corner. Let me remind you that Juventus signed him to be a prima punta, not a winger-turned-sometimes-defender. Yet that’s what he’s become, and it’s damn entertaining to watch.
- And I still have no idea, with how much work he put in against Roma, how the hell Mandzukic made that end-to-end run on what turned into Miralem Pjanic’s shot that thumped off the crossbar. I mean, seriously, Mario is not human.
- Three of Juventus’ best players on Saturday: Medhi Benatia, Miralem Pjanic, Wojciech Szczesny. Last time I checked, all of those guys used to play for Roma. Makes this win even the more enjoyable.
- Last time I checked Edin Dzeko was still in Benatia’s pocket. More updates to come if they’re available.
- There’s no way in hell this game should have ended 1-0 — both because of how many scoring chances Juventus had after going up a goal or because of the chances Roma had in the final 15 minutes.
- I sure do like hearing that Juve are still within one Napoli slip up of becoming the Serie A leaders again. And unlike Juventus, Napoli’s post-Christmas fixture list isn’t as friendly as it is for the team that is closest to them in the Serie A standings.
- Merry Christmas.