There is just something about international breaks that makes me think about cliches. Maybe it’s the fact that my brain doesn’t want to cope with no Juventus for the next two weeks and just thinks up default answers. But when it comes to the game before the international break, I want Juventus to win and I want them to play well. It’s simple and relatively cliche, I know, and that’s just the reality of it all. Nobody wants to sit on a crappy performance and a loss for 13 or 14 days. That just doesn’t sound like any fun.
Juventus, much to its credit, were more than willing to oblige.
A free-flowing and open first half was followed up by a much more defensive-minded second 45 minutes by the current Serie A leaders. Juventus made Juan Cuadrado’s seventh-minute header stand for the rest of the way and claimed a 1-0 win over pesky Sampdoria at the Luigi Ferraris on Sunday afternoon to momentarily push the lead atop the league standings to 10 points. (Roma plays later in the day against Sassuolo.)
Oh, yeah. There was a little bit of history taking place, too.
I’ll chalk it up as a solid win at a place that has given Juve its fair amount of troubles over the years. And when you throw in a Samp side that was pretty much pressing high from the first whistle onward and Juventus really had to be on their game to pick up all three points.
Once Cuadrado headed home Kwadwo Asamoah’s cross from the left wing, Juventus were in line to do just that. Some 80-something minutes later, that’s exactly what happened.
Now Juventus head into the international break knowing they’re another step closer to wrapping up a sixth straight Scudetto. Allegri said at his pre-match press conference that the main goal remains winning the league title — which is fine with me when you consider that the sooner they wrap this thing up, the sooner they can put their full attention toward what’s going on in Europe. Seeing as the lead in Serie A has been bouncing between seven and 10 points in recent weeks, it’s bound to happen in relatively short order after the international break.
So keep on working your way to that title, Juventus. It took another 1-0 win to get there, but Allegri seems to like those just fine. I guess we should be used to it by now.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Thought about 30 minutes before kickoff (and yes, this is a thought that is going through my head at 6:30 in the morning here in California): “HOLY CRAP DANIELE RUGANI ACTUALLY GETS TO START A GAME.” There you go, kids. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who had that thought when they first saw the starting lineups.
- Thought about two minutes before kickoff as the Serie A anthem sounds over the loudspeakers at the Marassi: Fabio Quagliarella is forever tan, forever cleft-chinned.
- Thought in the 27th minute as Paulo Dybala walked off the field with some kind of muscle injury (in his thigh?): PLEASE PLEASE DON’T BE HURT AND A LOT MISS TIME. NOT THE RIGHT TIME, PAULO. (Also, it’s a good thing the international break is here.)
- Thought around the 60th minute when the announcers actually mentioned it: “Wait, Sampdoria has only had six players score goals this season?” A check on the old internet has confirmed this to be true.
- Considering the situation, this is one of the few times this season I have not been happy to see Marko Pjaca step onto the field. Nothing against Marko, obviously, but every one of my thoughts as the substitution happened was about Dybala and what the hell could be wrong.
- Can we officially say that Kwadwo Asamoah has found a home as a full-time left back? Because I feel like can say that Kwadwo Asamoah has found a home as a full-time left back who can do a thing or two backing up Alex Sandro.
- And because it deserves its own bullet point: Asamoah’s cross on Cuadrado’s goal was an absolute thing of beauty. Spun it into the danger zone like he was Alex Sandro.
- For the first 12-15 minutes, I can’t remember a time recently where all four attacking players in Juventus’ 4-2-3-1 were as interchangeable and all over the field like they were. Cuadrado popped up on the right wing one attack, then was suddenly on the left moments later. Dybala was dropping back to defend, then trying to split through two Samp defenders right outside the 18-yard box on the right wing. Free-flowing football, that’s for sure. It was a beauty to watch.
- Maybe he’s a guy who needs a rest. Maybe he’s a guy who has dipped into a bit of a scoring slump. Maybe it’s both. But when it comes to Gonzalo Higuain, he’s a guy who is definitely not looking like his normal lethal self in front of goal these days. He had three REALLY good chances against Sampdoria and couldn’t convert on any one of them. He’s now scored in just one of his last seven appearances in all competitions, which is obviously a very un-Higuain-like kind of run. Maybe he can stay behind during the international break and play board games with Dybala and his girlfriend instead of running around for the Argentina national team.
- Fabio Quagliarella tried a couple of those classic Quag shots and Gigi Buffon just wasn’t having any of it.
- I’ll leave you all with this thought: Watching Rugani play is a joy. He is so calm, so smooth with whatever he does you tend to forget that he hadn’t started a game in weeks and that he’s still just 22 years old. What a player he already is and will develop into whenever he becomes a regular starter in the heart of Juve’s defense.