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Juventus 1 (5) - Roma 1 (4): Not-so-initial reaction and random observations

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International Champions Cup 2017 - AS Roma v Juventus Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

And with that, Juventus’ tour of the United States has come to an end.

A 1-1 draw after 90 minutes led to penalty kicks where Juve edged Roma out 5-4. It was not exactly the most thrilling of finishes, but Juventus came to the United States to get ready for the upcoming Serie A season and that’s what happened. Juventus’ makeshift left winger Mario Mandzukic scored the opener, Juventus’ new (left) winger Douglas Costa scored the final penalty and now everybody heads back to Italy a happy camper.

And with that, Juventus’ tour of the United States has come to an end.

Okay, so I guess you expect a few more words from me, so I will cooperate.

I think, from my point of view, Juventus got better from game one of the International Champions Cup to their finale against Roma. Of course it always helps when you’re not getting torched by Neymar in the process, so that certainly plays a part.

But you’re also kind of grading on a curve when it comes to preseason friendlies at this time of the year. Players have arrived at different stages of July, with some having trained with the team ever since the opening session, others coming back from international duty a week or two later. Throw in the fact that there were also a couple of summer signings seeing some action in the second half, as Sunday provided us with a glimpse of things could be like with Federico Bernardeschi and Douglas Costa on the field at the same time.

Through three of the first four preseason games, Juventus has shown signs of progression. It’s impossible for them to look anything close to a finished product right now. That’s just having extraordinary expectations. We’ve seen this team look terrible and then end up winning a Serie A title. We’ve seen them look meh and then end the season lifting a Scudetto.

This is the time of year where things aren’t supposed to look 100 percent complete. And even though there’s been some good signs, Juventus are far from the fine-tuned machine we expect them to be when the games that mean something get going.

RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS

  • I’m no doctor. I don’t have a medical degree. But I do know that the common line in thinking is that the second year after major knee surgery is when a player starts to really feel back to their true best. We’re about 18 months out from Claudio Marchisio’s injury issues and, if how he’s looked during the preseason is any kind of indication, then we’re in for the Principino of old. Marchisio has looked great in Juve’s three preseason games in the states.
  • After Juventus’ win over Paris Saint-Germain earlier in the week I was pining for Daniele Rugani to get the start alongside Giorgio Chiellini in the heart of defense. One of those things happened on Sunday, with Rugani joining Medhi Benatia from the opening whistle. Rugani’s first meaningful moment in the game came when he won a would-be through ball, chested it down and cleared it cool and calmly. That’s the Rugani we know and love. Even with just a few training sessions under his belt after his extended post-Euros holiday, Rugani looks ready to roll this season.
  • I like the Mattia De Sciglio signing a lot, but in his last two appearances his man marking his been kinda meh. Good thing it’s the end of July and he’s making these mistakes. Let’s just hope he’s not doing the same thing come March, April and May.
  • Some of the combination play between the Juventus attackers during the ICC has really been fantastic to watch. You can tell that the rapport between Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain has developed that much more, with the latter setting up the former on a handful of occasions of the course of the three friendlies thus far.
  • Here’s your reminder that the guy who assisted Mandzukic’s goal plays left back. You don’t see too many left backs making passes like that. Yet Alex Sandro does those sort of things pretty often because Alex Sandro is one of the best in the world.
  • Here’s your reminder that Rodrigo Bentancur is all of 20 years and is already looking very good. I know I’ve probably said it before, but I’m really interested in how Max Allegri is going to fit him into the squad this season. I think he’s proven this summer that despite his young age that he’s ready for some kind of role at Juventus.
  • Most importantly: No Juventus players come away from this United States tour with injuries that will see them miss a decent chunk of time. Let’s hope it stays that way as Juve head to Wembley for their friendly against Tottenham and then the Italian Super Cup against Lazio two weeks from now on Aug. 13.