In the moments before Paulo Dybala spun in one of the more beautiful free kicks you will ever see him score to cut the Lazio deficit in half, what was going through your head? I assume it was something like, “Man, this performance has been absolutely terrible. I sure as hell hope that Juve don’t play like this next weekend when the Serie A season starts.” Something like that, right?
You weren’t the only one.
Dybala netted penalty kick in the first minute of stoppage time and the game was on.
But as quickly as it became 2-2, it was suddenly a loss. And a bad loss, too.
Juventus lost the annual Italian Super Cup 3-2 to Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday night. It was an opening 10 minutes and closing 10 minutes that was good for Juventus, with 75 or so minutes in between that was basically a giant pile of meh that made Juve look like they were still in early-preseason mode and not all that interested in winning their first trophy of the season.
Basically, how would you sum up Juventus’ entire performance in the Italian Super Cup loss in just three words?
No, Juventus’ Italian Super Cup showing wasn’t great. It was far from great. For all the good they did in the opening seven or eight minutes and all the wonderfulness that Dybala made us feel during that five-minute stretch in the second half, it was quickly forgotten once you remember what happened in between all of that. Basically, once Juan Cuadrado had one of his many bad turnovers, Immobile was brought down in the box, calmly slid his penalty past Gigi Buffon and went on celebrating with the curva, it turned from decent to pretty poor for Juve.
Pretty much every bit of the match preview talking points loomed large for Juve in the actual game.
Juventus’ defense and the man who started alongside Giorgio Chiellini, Medhi Benatia, looked completely out of sync when Lazio really started to hit its stride midway through the first half. (It didn’t get much better for Benatia, either.) Mattia De Sciglio, for as good of a signing as some of us think he’ll be in the long run, got absolutely torched by Jordan Lukaku on the game-winning goal in stoppage time.
Juventus’ midfield wasn’t much better.
And, outside of Dybala and his late-game heroics, there weren’t many Juventus players where you could look at them and say, “Yeah, that guy played well!”
Lazio deserved this win. And Juventus deserved the loss that they got. Sure, the comeback was fun and Paulo Dybala reminded us once again why he is one hell of an amazing player, but all of those late dramatics weren’t enough for Juventus to absolutely snake a win from right under Lazio’s nose.
The games have even more meaning come next weekend. Let’s just hope that things resemble the first 10 minutes of the Supercoppa rather than the other 80 or so when Cagliari come to Turin.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- At least Dybala looked nice in his new No. 10 jersey?
- Juan Cuadrado is a talented player. He is very much capable of being an impactful player. But, as we have come to know all too well over his Juventus career, he is a ver inconsistent player. Like, really, really inconsistent. And his knack for silly and unnecessary turnovers really is starting to become more and more frequent. We saw it on the play that led to Lazio’s opening goal from the penalty spot and we saw it in the minutes before and after that. I mean, that shot on goal he had in the third minute that Alex Sandro put on an absolute platter was hit in the one direction where it wouldn’t be scored. I like Johnny, but with Douglas Costa and Federico Bernardeschi now on this team, his time as a starting player needs to come to an end.
- Gonzalo Higuain had the final one of Juve’s three quality scoring chances that forced good saves out of Lazio keeper Thomas Strakosha. He then barely saw the ball the rest of the first half. At one point, as Juve were building up in possession, Higuain was dropping back behind the centre circle is his team’s own half to get the ball. I don’t know about you guys, but that’s not where I want to see Higuain playing his part in an attack.
- Just an controversial opinion here, but Sergej Milinkovic-Savic would look really nice in a Juventus jersey come next season. Just throwing it out there.
- A friend of mine once described Douglas Costa as “Juan Cuadrado on steroids.” No, Costa isn’t actually on steroids, but the essence is that when Costa is on he’s freakin’ dynamic as hell and when he’s off ... he’s really, really off. Sunday night we saw the really good side of Costa’s game. He was instant energy off the bench — something that hopefully means he’s going to be starting regularly soon.
- Why the hell didn’t Claudio Marchisio play? Forget about why he didn’t start. But seeing as how the midfield was struggling, why didn’t we see Marchisio on the field for one second of this game? I don’t get it.
- It’s time for Daniele Rugani. Let’s stop avoiding this, Max. I know Benatia and Andrea Barzagli are veterans who have played well in the past — Barzagli more than Benatia, obviously — but Juventus can’t afford to begin the season with their second-best central defender starting on the bench more often than he’s playing. That’s just fact.
- The real deal begins next weekend. I sure hope Juventus can defend like Juventus can with games that mean something again.