I had it all mapped out in my mind. Juventus would get all six points in their next two league games against Atalanta and Torino. Juventus would then get a little help in the Derby della Capitale this weekend courtesy of Lazio against Roma. That would mean Juventus’ lead atop the Serie A table would be in double digits and things would pretty much be over when it comes to another Scudetto making its way to Turin.
Just when it looked like that first step was going to be completed, Juventus’ usually rock-solid defense coughed up a late-game lead and turned nothing into something.
As was the case when the two teams played in the Coppa Italia earlier this season, Atalanta was able to do something that a lot of Serie A clubs haven’t done this season (and the last few years, honestly) — score two goals against the best defense Italy has to offer. Remo Freuler’s weaving run through Juventus’ defense and subsequent rebound being put away pulled Atalanta even and Friday night’s meeting between two of the top clubs in Italy finished 2-2 in Bergamo.
This came just a few minutes after Juventus put the finishing touches on its comeback attempt when Miralem Pjanic found Dani Alves for a diving header in the 83rd minute to put the visitors up 2-1. But that lead, obviously, didn’t hold.
It was the first time in 15 games against Juventus that Atalanta wasn’t on the wrong side of the final scoreline.
Not exactly the best time to have that happen, was it?
Juventus’ second half was much better than its opening 45 minutes. It wasn’t pretty out of the gate. The second half was more of the Juventus we’re used to — attacking, creating chances, putting a heap of pressure on the opposition’s defense. That was clear before the own goal, after the own goal and as the second half went on.
But what gave Atalanta hope was that they were also creating chances. And once Juventus’ defense finally cracked, they were able to take a point away in a game where Juve looked like they were about to steal three of them and continue truckin’ toward yet another Scudetto party.
It’s not the worst result in the world — especially after the way Juventus played in the first half. But when you are Juventus and have a lead with less than 10 minutes to go, you want to see that thing closed out. Juve could have had three points, but end up with one. The Scudetto watch may as well be extended a little longer than some of us wanted it to.
And hey, Roma could Roma up the derby on Sunday, so there’s also that.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Another plus from Friday night: Nobody got hurt — at least that’s the initial feeling in my gut sitting thousands of miles away — and Max Allegri will have everybody available for the trip to Monaco on Wednesday.
- Another plus from Friday night: Leonardo Spinazzola scored his first Juventus goal. Congratulations, young man! Hopefully there is more to come.
- The individual battle between Gonzalo Higuain and Mattia Caldara was pretty cool to watch. Have to say the kid held his own against one of the best strikers the world of football currently has.
- If Andrea Conti isn’t a Juventus transfer target this summer, he should be. I know a lot of us like Pol Lirola around here, but Conti could very well be another young option as Right Back of the Future.
- Etrit Berisha is on loan from Lazio. Federico Marchetti, famed for being suddenly becoming the best goalkeeper in the world whenever he takes the field against Juventus, plays for Lazio. Put two and two together and you have Berisha being absolutely amazing against Juventus on Friday night.
- Speaking of damn good goalkeeping, if Gianluigi Buffon doesn’t make any one of those saves had made against Atalanta, Juventus loses. Even his initial save on Atalanta’s game-tying goal was great. I love him so much.
- I think I’m going to be dreaming of that Pjanic cross to Dani Alves tonight. It was glorious in every single way. Pjanic came serve up dimes whenever he damn well pleases, and this was certainly one of those times. Take a bow for that, Mire.
- The header at the back stick by Alves wasn’t too bad, either. Just a beautiful, beautiful goal all around.
- One final question before I leave you guys for the day: If Juventus beats Monaco on Wednesday night, do we even look back at this game and think about it all that much? You can go ahead and discuss, my friends.