You would think playing up a man for two-thirds of a match would make things rather simple for Juventus. You would think Chievo going down to nine men would make things even that much easier.
Against 10 men, Juve couldn’t do much of anything. Against nine men, it’s not like it got significantly better.
However, through all of the slow build-up in possession and non-excitement in general, Juventus had two moments of quality that allowed them to claim a 2-0 win over Chievo to allow them to leapfrog Napoli and into first place in Serie A. It came a lot later than many of us would have liked — especially knowing the circumstances.
Do the two goals — a brilliant combination from Miralem Pjanic-to-Federico Bernardeschi-to-Sami Khedira and Gonzalo Higuain’s late-game header — outweigh all of the other moments in this one?
Well, of course not.
The overall product was rather boring — part of it due to the fact that Chievo were down players after having seen two red cards, part of it with the home side already sitting back even when they were at full strength.
But a lot like the first game back from the winter break against Genoa on Monday, Juventus just didn’t seem to find that same kind of spark that they had in a good portion of their December games when this current unbeaten run got started.
With who’s coming up on the schedule, I think it’s an understatement to say that Juve need to take their game up a notch or two to beat the teams they’re facing the next few weeks.
That’s my biggest takeaway from another grinder kind of win after the winter break. Juve need to get better, they have to know they need to get better and now we get to see if they can actually do it.
Only one way to find out, folks.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- I mean, Juve are in first place after tonight’s win. That’s cool.
- Cherish this game, folks. You don’t know the next time you will see a team playing a 5-3-0 formation at home. It’s rare and quite unique.
- That being said, those are two of the oddest kinds of circumstances where I’ve seen two players on the same team sent off in one game. Two yellow cards picked up by the same player in the span of two minutes and then the protesting by Fabrizio Cacciatore was just hilarious. And by “hilarious” I mean completely confusing.
- This was another game where Douglas Costa proved that he needs to be getting regular minutes no matter what Juan Cuadrado’s health status is going forward. He just provides the combination of speed and skill that can only be somewhat rivaled by Cuadrado. But, like a lot of appearances this season, there was no other player on the field like Costa — and it showed.
- What also aided Costa? The switch to the left wing when Bernardeschi came onto the field. Fede wasn’t great, but he definitely provided something that Juve were lacking before he came onto the field.
- Forget all the bad and/or boring parts of this game. I think I’m just going to sit around and watch Miralem Pjanic’s pass to Bernardeschi on Khedira’s goal over and over again.
- We will see how scoring a goal against Chievo pays off for Higuain, but you have to know that ending a streak of nearly 700 Serie A minutes without a goal felt pretty good. And I would like to think that of Costa continues to serve up crosses like he did on Higuain’s goal against Chievo, then things are going to start turning up for the better for Juve’s No. 9. Just a hunch.
- In a Gianluigi Buffon-like kind of game, Wojciech Szczesny had only one or two things to do all day long. One was a relatively simple save which he made with ease. But the bigger moment came when Woj sped off his line and out of the 18-yard box to clear a Chievo counterattack attempt. In a game like this where your keeper is doing next to nothing, that shows some pretty damn good awareness.
- Basically the lasting impression of the first two post-winter break games is that Juve are going to have to play much, much better going forward. And that starts against Atalanta in the Coppa Italia on Tuesday.
- Is there really much more to take out of a game where Juve played against nine men for around 30 minutes? Not really. Time to move on.