For some reason I was posting on the Juventus Reddit, and some bumbling fool suggested, in the Atalanta thread, that Juventus had Serie A “wrapped up.” News flash: There’s a reason Max Allegri fielded Juve’s best 11 players against Atalanta on Friday night, the lineup we’ll probably see against Monaco next week, and it’s not because Juventus have Serie A “wrapped up.”
Now, look, I’m not here to blow this game epically out of proportion. Juventus need to get to 91 points. Right now the Bianconeri have 84, with two bottom-feeders left to play — Bologna and Crotone — a home matchup against Torino, and the date with Roma shortly after the second leg of the Champions League semifinals. Is it probable that Juve manages to only get 90 points from those four games? No. Not probably at all, because they’re Juventus and Allegri will ship them into shape. But is it, in some weird way, given some strange confluence of unfortunate events, possible that a bunch of terrible things happen all at once and Juventus blow the Scudetto?
It’s not out of the realm of possibility.
But once again, I don’t want to blow this out of proportion. That would be dumb. Juve play Monaco next week and that’s awesome and I’m excited to watch the billion dollars’ worth of young players that Monaco have run into the Juventus defense that will hopefully be better.
A tantalizing collection of titillating tidbits.
- All that said, guys, this Atalanta game was REALLY BAD. Blah blah blah...yes Atalanta is a good team, and they’re young and scrappy, and woohoo for Mattia Caldara because imagining Daniele Rugani and him anchoring our defense in a few years is beyond exciting to imagine, but just because Atalanta is good doesn’t mean we should play that bad. The passing was bad. The possession was bad. The worst thing to me about this game was Juve’s form and positioning — which we just saw at world-class level against Barcelona. Goodness gracious!
- Here’s what WhoScored said about Juve’s game: “Team has no significant strengths.” Got a good laugh about the verb tense in the sentence — obviously, Juve are mostly strength — but they were right for this game, aside from maybe “badass goaltending,” which is not a category they put there, I think.
- When I consider “Team has no significant strengths,” I’m actually happy for a single point. You never know how important a single point will be.
- But seriously: For a moment, fantasize about Rugani and Caldara together. (No, not like that!)
- Bergamo is actually a very fine little town. I remember going to Bergamo and sitting in the central piazza for aperitivo and I ordered a Negroni and then I ordered another Negroni, and I just sat there thinking about how intellectual I was, ha. Oh my young self, sometimes I wish I had more of you in me now. (This is super OT, I apologize.)
- Should that handball have been a penalty? Yes. But do I agree with Allegri that it doesn’t really matter since Juve had the lead with under ten and should’ve stole the three points in a game where it would’ve been just that (complete robbery)? Yes.
Onto the awards (“awards”):
Italian Teenager Gaggle Award
For the unit embodying the following descriptors: incoherent, waste of space, frustrating.
Miralem Pjanic, to me, was one of Juve’s decently performing players, until right at the end there he decided to back-pass rather than to boot the ball out of our penalty area and concede, absolute worst case scenario, a corner. The stupid pass led to a goal, and it canceled out the most fluid and sublime cross there has ever been in Bergamo on the goal to Alves a few minutes before that.
It was as if Pjanic was trying to one-up Sami Khedira, who moments before this decided it would be cool to give the ball to Gomez and not our defense, and make Old Golden God Zeus-Man Buffon earn his paycheck a little more — as if the beautiful netminder hadn’t done enough already.
Pjanic was fine, but cost us a goal. Khedira was less than fine. And when a team struggles to maintain possession, look no further than the midfield.
House of Savoy Award
For the [worst] man of the match.
I don’t really know what to do here. I thought the wings gave a particularly bad display against Atalanta, especially their positioning. Mr. No Good was very No Good, and Cuadrado was unusually insipid in his play. The defense were mostly okay, and as Allegri said the two goals were on silly technical errors, but silly is often the consequence of laziness, I fear.
It seems maybe slightly unfair to single any one unit out for this, but I think that everyone deserves an equal share of this besides Buffon. So, guys, enjoy the hardware.
Giuseppe Garibaldi Award
For the man of the match.
Buffon’s one-on-one save in the first half was brilliant. It didn’t look brilliant, really, because the brilliance of it was timing the exact moment to rush the attacker and close down the window in which it was possible to score. Gigi additionally parried out a number of other shots with which lesser goalkeepers might have struggled.
Was Gigi perfect? I don’t know. Was there more he could’ve done on the two conceded goals? I don’t know. They were strange goals, both of them, the product of clumsy and lazy defending, and so it’s hard for me to fault Gigi on those.
I don’t think we should ignore that Juve played like absolute crap in virtually every phase of the game, but I also don’t think we should blow this out of proportion. Roma don’t have an easy slate of games coming up, and even if they win out — which would include beating the Bianconeri, of course — Juventus should have plenty in the tank to win the Scudetto.
Now let’s go and kick Monaco’s ass.