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Landmarks of Turin Awards: Juventus vs. Sampdoria Edition

UC Sampdoria v Juventus FC - Serie A Photo by Paolo Rattini/Getty Images

Today we bring you a combination of sorts. The usual Aperitivi and intro sections of these Landmarks of Turin Awards will be molded together into one to cover the in-game tiff that Adam Digby and I got into on Twitter. It was amazing, and for a brief shining moment I was famous — or something.

Okay, it wasn’t really a tiff. But he tweeted something, and then I tweeted something sort of sassy back at him, and then he tweeted something sort of sassier back at me, and then I tweeted something back at him which was not sassy at all, but which, to me, was showing that I was in the right and he made a mistake, and then he didn’t respond. The best part about this is that you can choose Team Digby or Team Sharpless, and then we can all have a West Side Story thing where we sing songs and look at each other threateningly.

Here’s the timeline:

First, Adam tweeted this.

Then, I tweeted this.

Then, he tweeted this.

Then, I tweeted this.

So, Digby makes a comment about Pjaca’s decision-making, which I questioned immediately. I thought that, actually, Pjaca made two great decisions immediately, and it was more of a touch issue — he was, after all, coming straight from the bench after Paulo Dybala had to be subbed out due to injury. So maybe it got a little too semantic for Digby and that’s why he peaced out. But to me, it felt like his first comment questioned Pjaca’s judgement, to which I responded, and then his second comment — his snarky response to my snarky response — shifted registers, although the second half of his second comment did attempt to get back to the judgement category.

Arguments aside, I liked Pjaca’s decision-making against Sampdoria, and I’ll stake my claim there. In no way is he a finished product, but a month or two ago he’d get into the game and just attack the net with no restraint. He’s starting to look up a little more, and that’s a good thing.

Onto the awards:

Sidewalk of Turin Award

For a weak(ish) performance masked by other factors.

WhoScored gave Miralem Pjanic one of the higher game scores in the Sampdoria match, but I thought he looked a little lost out there, especially after the Dybala injury. (Side note: how bad does it suck that Dybala got injured? I bet you’ve not heard this recently, but I hope it’s not that bad, and I’m happy that it’s the international break.)

To be fair to Pjanic, I think he’s still learning how to adjust to this role, and he’s still learning how to adjust to this team. He’s not even been here a year! That’s crazy. And he’s been really good for most of this year, but this was not his best showing.

Piazza San Carlo Award

For a potentially overlooked yet stellar showing.

I’m going to make a bunch of people — including myself — angry here by selecting Andrea Barzagli. There have been numerous complaints lodged about the old man, some from me, and I will quickly note that he didn’t start the Sampdoria game very well. Out of position a couple of times, a step slow here and there. His age showed.

But as the game moved along — and man, what a box-to-box game it was — he found his groove. Barzagli had four interceptions to Daniele Rugani’s one, and six clearances to Rugani’s two. He logged more touches than Rugani, and also had a higher passing percentage. Eleven of his 15 long balls were accurate — there has to be some sort of sexual pun here — and I actually thought he took on the Leonardo Bonucci role of getting the attack rolling. Sue me! I thought he settled down and played well.

Lingotto Award

For a notable demonstration in both grit and flair.

Juan Cuadrado, as you all know, is not a perfect player. We could write a three-part novel like Lord of the Rings about his flaws. And just like Lord of the Rings, you would wonder when it would actually end, because the writer would be attempting to end the work but realize, like Tolkien, that there are like seventy-four threads to tie up at the end, and so the book about Cuadrado’s flaws would, just like Lord of the Rings, have a bunch of fake-out, annoying endings. (Disclaimer: I love Lord of the Rings, but damn, dude, end the thing faster.)

But for all his flaws, he brings energy. For all his flaws, every now and then he does something so stupidly special you feel dumb (briefly) for ever criticizing him. A few weeks ago we saw him launch a rocket to win the Derby, and now he’s slipping past his marker in the penalty area for a perfectly placed header. (Maybe he should give Mr. No Good [At Headers] a lesson…heh, heh.)

Later in the game he showed us his silly moments, too. But he gave us a gem. And he tracked back defensively in a game where we needed him to.

Parco Valentino Award

For an urbane demeanor distributed amongst the squad.

Gigi Buffon is an old man and has played 98,473,290 years in Serie A, and he was nearly flawless — there was one shot that squeaked out of his mitts and nearly trundled over to a Sampdoria attacker. It was an awkward play, one that unfairly made Buffon’s age look like a factor, which I don’t think really was.

But really, it’s not fun to play in Genova. Juventus know this. And whenever an opponent is ballsy enough to run at the Bianconeri and not load the box with 34 defenders, it can make things a little tricker for our wily and beautiful netminder. He did his job tonight. He watched his boys score early, and then miss a bunch of chances to add to their lead, and so for nearly 85 minutes he had to manage the pressure of attempting to secure Juventus three points.

Which, of course, he did.

Giuseppe Garibaldi Award

For the man of the match.

Would it be fair to suggest that Kwadwo Asamoah is, just maybe, the world’s best backup left back? It’s probably a somewhat fair suggestion, and it’s a hell of a good thing moving forward. Asamoah is still only 28 years old, and while he’s had the injury issues in the past, if he can stay healthy he more or less solidifies that position at a two-deep level, which isn’t really something we can say for every other position. What’s more, his transformation into not only a serviceable but a damn fine left back answered a potential question there moving into the offseason — this, of course, with the assumption that the suits are able to see what Asamoah is doing.

The reliable Ghana international led the way in Genova not only defensively — tackling, intercepting, tracking back, doing all those wonderful stabilizing things that good defenders do — but also offensively, with what may have been the best cross Asamoah has sent into the box in his life. (Incidentally, it was the only cross of the game for Asamoah!)

That one cross got us three points, thanks to Cuadrado’s extremely famous, extremely well known, extremely noted, very famed and lore-ridden ability to head the ball into the back of the net.