I remember watching Gigi Buffon celebrate Juventus advancing to the Champions League final at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid two years ago. If you didn’t know the context of it, you’d think he might have been stinkin’ mad at somebody after allowing a last-second goal. There was screaming — a lot of it. There were arms being thrown around in about 50 different directions as a man’s face went between at least a few different colors as he used up any remaining bits of his voice he had left.
It was pure joy. Not anger. Nowhere close to anger.
It was Buffon at his best, non-world-class-save category.
We got to see that kind of Buffon celebration again. And this time, it wasn’t as a visiting player with only a small group of Juventus supporters there to cheer on the team that the legendary Italian goalkeeper captains. It was in Turin. It was in front of 40,000 Juventus supporters and it was pretty much a certainty after the opening 45 minutes on Tuesday night.
Think of it this way: In the second leg of a Champions League semifinal, Max Allegri was able to pull off Paulo Dybala with over 30 minutes to go and there was absolutely no fuss made about it. That’s what you’re able to do when you’re up 4-0 on aggregate and your stadium pretty much has absolutely no anxiety in it regarding the final result.
There wasn’t a brace needed by Gonzalo Higuain to hold off any Monaco charge. There weren’t really any God-like saves needed from Buffon until midway through the second half. (Although he did make a great stop on a shot that was ruled offside in the first half. That was cool.) The two first-half goals from Mario Mandzukic and Dani Alves were all that was needed to build a four-goal lead and put things completely out of reach.
Business taken care of.
The party rightfully arrived in Turin on Tuesday night.
Whatever you want you to call it, go ahead and say so.
The bottom line, no mattered how you describe what went down at Juventus Stadium is this: Juventus is heading to the Champions League final for the second time in Max Allegri’s three seasons as manager. And we were there to join them as they jumped up and down and sang along with the curva.
I hope you’re ready, Wales. There’s going to be a whole bunch of folks decked out in black and white coming your way in a couple of weeks. And this time, they’re in no mood to repeat what happened in Berlin two seasons ago.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- JUVENTUS GOING TO CARDIFF. JUVENTUS GOING TO CARDIFF.
- No, seriously, this is happening.
- One bad thing: Prayer circle for Sami Khedira’s hamstring.
- When you know you have depth on your team: Khedira gets hurt and Allegri is able to turn around to the bench and put Claudio Marchisio into the game.
- There will be no prayer circles for Kamil Glik — and you should know why.
- Juventus’ shutout streak count as halftime arrived: 666 minutes. Thank goodness Monaco didn’t get their goal until there were about 20 minutes remaining so that we were able to extend things a little further.
- Dani Alves in the Champions League semifinals: Assist, assist, assist, goal. Juventus scored four goals against Monaco and Dani Alves was directly involved in every single one of them. Juventus signed him for the European experience and performances on the big stage that he brings to the table, and he most certainly got better as the games got bigger and bigger. I’m more than happy to see that he has made me change my opinion of how he’s played this season.
- Giorgio Chiellini has been great in the last few rounds of the knockout phase. Some of his tackles and clearances on Tuesday night were simply fantastic.
- After 89 1⁄2 minutes of screaming at his players, the television feed here in the U.S. cut to Allegri cracking a giant smile. That’s what you get. That’s the most deserved smile there can be. He, along with his wonderful team, has earned this.
- It’s a Madrid-based opponent no mater what. But hey, with the way Juventus are playing in Europe right now, bring it on. They can have meh performances in Serie A but bring it when the European lights are on. That’s good.
- Ninety more minutes to go. Do it for Gigi. Give the G.O.A.T. what he deserves.