For the past five Serie A games we watched Gonzalo Higuain step onto different fields and finish the game with the same amount of goals on the season that he started with. For some strikers that’s probably just a relatively ordinary stretch. But for Higuain, the bar is set so much higher because of what he’s done the last few seasons.
Well, Serie A scoreless streak over.
And now, as Max Allegri requested from his players, they can now think about Barcelona.
Along with his baby-faced countryman by the name of Paulo Dybala, Higuain led the offensive charge on Saturday night, scoring his second brace in the matter of four days — the other came in Wednesday night’s Coppa Italia game against Napoli, of course — as Juventus beat Chievo 2-0 to go into their titanic matchup with Barcelona with some wind in their sails. It wasn’t a drab, energy-conserving performance that we saw from Juventus last weekend. Instead, Juve actually played quite well, the kind of showing that you want to see from your team going into such a massive
Leave it to Higuain and Dybala to steal the show, too.
We entered the game wondering if Higuain would be rested and Dybala would be pushed up into a central forward role to take the place of Juve’s No. 9. Instead, the only real lineup selection that took some folks by surprise was the fact that Stefano Sturaro was playing as a left winger. (It’s happening!!!) Other than that, it was either the squad rotation that we expected or the non-squad rotation that many people anticipated.
That meant that Dybala played. That meant that Higuain played. And based on how things went, that was a pretty good decision by Mr. Allegri. You gotta give it to him in that respect.
Dybala created so many opportunities on Saturday night. Juventus might have won 2-0, but it could have truly been a complete blowout if some of Juve’s best chances were put away. Higuain could have had more than just a brace. Juan Cuadrado had a big-time scoring chance that wasn’t put away. There were a few others mixed in there, too.
Yet even with the missed chances, I can safely say that I liked the way Juventus played against Chievo. It was the kind of performance that makes you feel good about how they’re going into a matchup like what is going down at Juventus Stadium on Tuesday night. You get the confidence going and who knows what can happen next.
That’s especially true when you think about Higuain having scored four goals in his last two appearances and Dybala being so incredibly involved in both goals against Chievo.
The two strikers who are two of the brightest stars Juventus currently has were certainly seeing things in HD on Saturday night. And yes, I hope you see what I did there. That was my intention the entire time, people.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Gonzalo Higuain: 27 goals, 37 games in all competitions. That is all.
- Paulo Dybala put in the kind of performance that could easily have him be Man of the Match — and he didn’t even score a goal. He was that good against Chievo.
- Seriously, props to Chievo for not doing what a lot of mid-table teams do when they come to Juventus Stadium. Sure they dropped numbers back behind the ball some of the time, but it’s not like they parked the bus and showed no intention to attack at all.
- Counterpoint: It’s usually a good sign for Juventus when Gigi Buffon isn’t making his first save of the game until after halftime. Good things usually come out of that.
- I love the combination of Daniele Rugani and Andrea Barzagli in the center of defense. Not because they’re two of the calmest customers that you will probably ever see wear a Juventus jersey, but also because they damn good, too. That was the kind of Barzagli game that we’ve gotten so used to over the years. And when it came to Rugani, just steady as she goes. Neither of them put a foot wrong against Chievo, and it was quite nice to see knowing they hadn’t played many minutes alongside one another this season.
- Sergio Pellissier, all 37 years old of him, didn’t score against Juventus. I feel like this is an accomplishment in and of itself.
- Max, I’m happy I can now think about Barcelona. We certainly know that Juve’s social media properties are already getting things going. By my math that was 45 minutes after the final whistle sounded. I hope that was enough time that passed to get Max’s approval.