Lorenzo Insigne is a 5-foot-4 man from Naples who plays for Napoli and what used to be the Italian national team before the program was reverse engineered into non-existence, and he is apparently miffed that Gonzalo Higuain celebrated the other day at Stadio San Paolo. And I lowkey love that when Italians says “Higuain,” they pronounce the invisible vowel at the end of the Argentine’s name.
The lede above has nothing to do with the Roma game, but I found it interesting and somewhat related to the fact that — don’t look now — but the Serie A race is far and out the best one in Europe.
Juventus beat Roma 1-0, and should’ve beat Roma 4-0, and was a Polish man away from drawing 1-1.
A tantalizing collection of titillating tidbits.
- Juve’s home kits still look so good, every time.
- The question of the day: Is Max Allegri totally messing with everybody when he says Juan Cuadrado is going to play right back? Maybe it will happen one day. Maybe we will sell the man from Switzerland. Maybe we will find another right back. Who knows?
- But seriously, Pipita! No. 9 missed many juicy chances (not a fat joke). He wasn’t very good, but I also think Sam’s 4.5 is rather harsh. Yes, Higuain didn’t finish. And yes, he had some errant touches. But he was insistent about pressing all game, his positioning was, per usual, very good, and he did his customary (and overlooked) defensive duties at the end of the game, including a clearance on a corner.
- If we are going to do this 4-3-3 thing, let’s get a midfielder or two who can actually do things in the final third — i.e. it’s time to take Sami Khedira gently into the blissful fields of retirement.
- For about 70 minutes, that game was a total clinic, with Roma hardly getting a scent of goal. Juve’s keeper probably had time time smoke a cigarette if he had wanted.
- We got not-great Juan Cuadrado again. I wonder what Douglas Costa would’ve looked like against Roma.
Onto the awards:
Sidewalk of Turin Award
For a weak(ish) performance masked by other factors.
Hot take: Medhi Benatia wasn’t very good on Saturday.
It’s probably more like a warm take, but the fact remains that, despite the game-winning goal and a healthy serving of defensive duties, there are — pretty much without fail — three to four moments per game in which the Moroccan looks like he has literally never seen a spherical soccer ball before, and subsequently proceeds to blunder about in catastrophic fashion. Against Roma, that certainly happened; it happened well before the dying seconds of the game, too.
The hope is, I think, that he works on possession in training, never tries to be cheeky with the ball at his feet, and that at the end of the day the good outweighs the bad. Against our non-Lazio Lazio foes, that proved to be the case by the very slimmest of margins — thanks to a man from Poland.
Giuseppe Garibaldi Award
For the man of the match.
When Juventus signed Wojciech Szczęsny from Roma-slash-Arsenal, I wept for 40 days and 40 nights. Not because I thought Woj was a bad signing, nor even because the move brought Gianluigi Buffon’s impending career ending into sharper relief, but instead because I secretly wanted Gianluigi Donnarumma to wind up in Turin — which surely would’ve required many animal sacrifices, black magic, et. al — but it appears, after watching a number of AC Milan games, and after watching Woj single-handedly rescuing the Bianconeri from the deep, deep miry depths of shame that would’ve ensued had Patrick Schick equalized in the last Roman gasp at Allianz Stadium, after this it appears my great gesture of mourning was totally unfounded because Woj is not only a Polish maestro behind the net but a man who is fully capable of wearing exponentially more hair product that Ross Geller in his keratin heyday and still maneuvering between the posts with impeccable dexterity.
The Shroud of Turin Award
For the player who was never really there.
*Khedira happily hands the award to a man from Argentina who is 24 years old and wears a jersey with No. 10 on it.*
Parco Valentino Award
For an urbane demeanor distributed amongst the squad.
If I were in the business of serious hot takes — I’m not! — I would say that Mario Mandzukic was perhaps the man of the match against Roma, but instead I will just say the Croatian played very, very well. He did his normal hold-up duties on the left side splendidly, and also ranked third in tackles (3), third in clearances (5), and first in interceptions (3). More and more people, it seems, probably including me, are coming around to the idea that his presence on that left flank is pretty much always a good thing.
On an opposition corner kick, he’s a center back. On an opposition’s foray on the right flank, he’s a left back. On Juventus’ foray down the right flank, he’s a target forward. On a Juventus Juventus left flank foray, he’s a left winger.
All day all the time, he’s the Energizer Bunny from Hell (in a good way).