Juventus didn’t just stroll into Old Trafford and claim a 1-0 win Tuesday night. Juventus rolled into the place they call the Theatre of Dreams and absolutely punked Manchester United in the process.
For most of the game, anyway.
After absolutely controlling things for the vast majority of the first half, Juventus weren’t able to add onto their lead following Paulo Dybala’s 17th-minute strike. But it didn’t come back to bite them in the way that not getting a second goal did over the weekend against Genoa. As much as Manchester United got better after halftime and threw numbers forward in an attempt to get the equalizer.
That never happened.
And now Juventus are still perfect in the Champions League at the midway point of group stage play. (I know, I know. That’s hard to believe about this team knowing how the group stages of yesteryear have gone, but it’s true — and I like it.)
So much of the first half was dominated by Juventus that it only seemed inevitable that there was going to be a second goal scored. Call it complacency, call it Manchester United just playing better, whatever you want, but that 2-0 lead that we were also hoping for over the weekend in Turin never arrived. Not that Juventus played poorly after halftime, but they were nowhere near as good as they were in the first half.
But let’s talk about that first half for a minute.
To see Juventus come out that strong and have 70 percent of the possession ... against Manchester United ... at Old Trafford ... on a big European night like this one was ... amazing. They were just putting it to United, they were simply controlling every aspect of the game. United getting forward was an accomplishment in of itself, with Juventus giving the home side next to nothing when it comes to their attacking phase of the game.
Sure, they should have gotten more than just one goal, courtesy of Dybala, but that’s not the main argument here. It was simply Juventus showing that, while Manchester United is clearly not on the same level of the Manchester United teams when Cristiano Ronaldo was running wild on the English Premier League, this Juve squad is different than other ones with how they are now able to consistently produce wins at the European level.
Maybe in years past this game would have been a complete grinder where they would have to scratch and claw for the win rather than clearly be the better side like they were on Tuesday night. But this season, Juventus have not just won three straight games to open the Champions League group stage, they’ve done so by being a efficient and quality side along the way.
This was a good win, a long-awaited win against an English powerhouse.
And a lot like the last time Juve made their way to Manchester for the Champions League, they came away with all three points.
Juventus have beaten Man United at Old Trafford for the first time since 1996.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 23, 2018
An Alessandro Del Piero the difference that day. pic.twitter.com/qmQklqnLZg
A No. 10 won it that day. A No. 10 one it this day. Here’s to Juventus’ No. 10s of past, present and future. (Although I really like the current No. 10, so he can stay a while longer.)
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Starting lineup thought No. 1 typed out an hour before kickoff: What the heck has Federico Bernardeschi done to suddenly not get into the starting lineup?
- Starting lineup thought No. 2 typed out an hour before kickoff: So much for that 3-5-2 we were hearing about so much in the late-Monday and early-Tuesday hours, huh?
- Have you guys heard that Cristiano Ronaldo used to play for Manchester United? I know, it’s shame few people mentioned this during the pre-game coverage.
- Rodrigo Bentancur in the first half: 52 passes attempted, 50 passes completed. I love him.
- Miralem Pjnaic in the first half: 47 passes attempted, 46 passes completed. He’s good, too.
- This was one of those frustrating-as-hell Juan Cuadrado games. I know that sounds obvious based on the fact that I thought Bernardeschi should have started, but it’s becoming more and more clear that Fede and Douglas Costa are simply better options these days.
- And, with all of that being said, Cuadrado recorded four key passes in the game. So what the hell do I know anyway?
- For all the attacking talent that United rolled out Tuesday night, Wojciech Szczesny barely had to do anything. His two saves weren’t all that difficult, and it’s not like United were peppering the Juve goal with shots to begin with.
- Another goalkeeping observation: David De Gea is really good. It’s too bad he’s got a hodgepodge of defenders playing in front of him because he has to make amazing saves way too often.
- Douglas Costa had two bounding runs going forward after he came on where it seemed like he had about 50 yards of green grass in front of him. Watching that man in such open space as he revs up and goes from 0 to 100 real quick will never not be fun to watch.
- Paulo Dybala is good.
- Paulo Dybala scoring goal after goal after goal after goal in the Champions League is going to continue to make this team so good.
- Giorgio Chiellini is just a monster, man. He led Juve in tackles (3). He led Juve in clearances (7). He had Big Rom in his back pocket pretty much all game. He just had a classic Chiellini game where he barely does anything wrong on the big stage. I know he only has a handful of years left and he’s got the propensity to see his body break down from time to time, but he’s just so damn good and so damn important to this team.
- Angry/frustrated/searching-for-answers Jose Mourinho is my favorite Jose Mourinho. Some people who will click on this article will disagree, but I think there are just as many folks who will be forming a line right behind me.
- Nine points out of nine and almost in the knockout stage as we he the midway point of Group H play. WHO THE HELL IS THIS AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH THE JUVENTUS I’VE COME TO KNOW IN EUROPE, HUH?
- (I like it better this way.)