The poetic justice of the first goal was flawless.
After all the angst and anger — some of it from me — about Max Allegri not starting at least one of Douglas Costa/F3D3 Bernardeschi/MDS, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Mario Mandžukić hooked up to open the Bianconeri’s account for the season. It was hilarious, really, as the Swiss right back, who literally never until this game against Cagliari knew how to cross the ball into the box, lofted a beautiful ball into the penalty area, and the hulking target-slash-winger started this year where he last off last season — volleys into the net. It wasn’t hit with incredible power, but the pinpoint accuracy was enough.
I laughed. It was perfect. Allegri must have smiled inwardly.
Does this suddenly mean Lichtsteiner should start at right back the rest of the year? Definitely not. Does it mean Mandžukić should never again be on the bench no matter what? Hopefully, no.
Three points is three points. A 3-0 win is very nice, but things, of course, could’ve been much worse, as Cagliari wasted a penalty shot and, not too long before that, an essentially open goal.
A tantalizing collection of titillating tidbits.
- The “Jeep Compass” giant piece of tape — or whatever — on the kits was so, so bad. Those kits are gorgeous, and Jeep, probably needing to push that specific model, decided to ruin the bella figura of the first day by that stupid advertisement.
- Did anyone play poorly on Saturday? I don’t think so. There were a few hiccups here and there, but even the Swiss Menace had a solid game. Juan Cuadrado was extremely meh to me, but not bad. I just don’t understand the decisions he makes, or the timing of his making them, or why he doesn’t work on having more moves than “kick it past the defender and hope I can run around him” move.
- Pipita ... was so happy with himself when he scored. His game wasn’t that great, and he seemed a bit sulky to me, but when he finally put a ball through the net he had the expression of a kid trying ice cream for the first time.
- Secret optimistic transfer theory: Allegri started Lichtsteiner and Cuadrado to show them off to clubs interested in buying, maybe to nudge them over to an offer. Cuadrado needed a better outing than he had against Lazio, and while he wasn’t great I think he showed his jets, his defensive contribution, and that he’s a quality — if not world-class — winger. Lichtsteiner could certainly do some damage for a number of teams in Europe.
- Optimistic theory, ctd.: With the sale of those two, Juventus will add Keita Balde and a right back not named Cancelo, and then seal up the mercato and be done with it and the bench will be, as we saw against Cagliari, absolutely loaded.
- Just kidding, none of that will happen. Mercato is probably finished for us, folks.
- Last word: The depth, as many mentioned on the Twitterverse, is insane. Allegri brought in Sami Khedira — who looked significantly better than last week — Blaise Matuidi, and Costa ... which left Bernardeschi on the bench. Not to mention Moise Kean, Rodrigo Bentancur, the injured Marko Pjaca, Medhi Benatia, or Andrea Barzagli. Allegri already has so much more firepower than last year.
Onto the awards:
*NEW* Egyptian Museum Award
For the best game by a player older than 30.
The people of Turin are very proud of their Egyptian museum, which is one of the biggest collections of ancient Egyptian artifacts in the world. I went once, and it was just okay. But if you’re into Egypt or something it would probably be completely awesome. And besides, as I said, it’s something of which the city is quite proud.
Like Turin being proud of their Egyptian museum, which is full of old and cool stuff, we are proud of Gigi Buffon, who is old and cool and still really good. Apropos of these two factors, the old man gets the nod. His two wonderful saves — including the penalty; side note on that ... I know it was a really crappy penalty, but even so Gigi guessed the right way and saved the shot, which is not easy — essentially defeated Cagliari before they had a chance to make things interestingly. And, hypothetically, let’s say Cagliari had one into half having tied the game 1-1, I’m sure Costa and F3D3 would’ve come storming off the bench within 10 minutes and Juve would’ve cruised to a 4-1 win.
Parco Valentino Award
For an urbane demeanor distributed amongst the squad.
Miralem Pjanic was splendid. With Claudio Marchisio out there, he looked much better as the trequartista, and although Daniele Rugani’s passing wasn’t perfect, the young center back is just more fluid in his movements than anyone else in the back line — I think that helped with Pjanic, who posted a 95% passing rate with just under 100 touches.
None of this is even to mention the low-orbit-entering assist to Paulo Dybala.
That ... wasn’t real.
*NEW* Ivrea Orange Festival Award
For the player who takes something crappy and makes it beautiful.
Ivrea is a little town outside Turin, and every year they have this festival in which teams of armored men on carriages pulled by armored horses fight a bunch of crazed civilians with oranges. It is bloody. It is intense. The town strings up giant nets in front of the shops so the women and children (and consumer goods) can stay safe. It is very fun, and of course everyone is drinking so there’s that.
Anyway, one of the more adverse consequences of the horses is that they, the horses that is, don’t know how to use the toilet, so they just poop on the streets — this horse poop becomes mixed with the orange juice and orange shrapnel, with creates this viscous mixture that pastes the streets.
So this award goes the player who did something bad — i.e., poopy, like the horses — but then did something really good later on --i.e., like the festival as a whole, still a beautiful thing despite the poop.
That player is Alex Sandro, who gave away a penalty — I think VAR made the right call — but then shredded the rest of the way, including run after run up the left flank, tackles galore, and a skillful assist to a streaking Pipita for the Argentine’s first goal of the campaign.
Giuseppe Garibaldi Award
For the man of the match.
I’m not the only one who sees something different in Paulo.
Maybe it’s wearing No. 10. Maybe it’s the loss in Cardiff. Maybe it’s that he knows Juventus can be — maybe already is — his club.
Whatever it is, Paulo Dybala is not the same player we watched last year. The flair is there, the failing limbs but perfect control of the ball, the speed, the strength, the creativity — it’s all still there.
But there’s something else, too.
I’m not sure what that is yet, but I have a good feeling we’ll find out.