It took Juventus all of 42 seconds to take the lead against Cagliari on Saturday night. At that point, as the game clock struck the one-minute mark, you figured it was going to be the kind of game where Juve probably had a lot, the opposition had very little and everybody was going to be pretty relaxed and pleased when the final whistle sounded.
The next 93 minutes didn’t exactly play out like the first minute.
In another one of those it-shouldn’t-have-been-this-interesting-against-a-smaller-club kind of games, Juventus wasn’t able to fully put Cagliari away until stoppage time in the second half. Juve didn’t even technically score the game-winning goal. But in between Paulo Dybala’s first-minute opener and Juan Cuadrado’s stoppage-time clincher on one hell of a pretty counterattack, there was plenty of what we’ve seen the last few times Max Allegri’s squad has faced Serie A opposition.
Don’t let the scoreline fool you. Don’t let the fact that Juventus weren’t leading in the game for all of about three whole minutes. Don’t let the fact that Juventus out-shot Cagliari 16 and finished with a team WhoScored rating over 7.
This was another grinder, another game where the overall product wasn’t that of what we saw before the October international break. It was, well, something that left plenty to be desired simply because they let Cagliari hang around waaaaaaay longer than they should have. It could have been put away in the second half. Heck, there could have been at least a couple more goals before halftime arrived.
But, that didn’t happen.
Instead, we were left to stress much, much more than I ever thought we would have been after Dybala scored — WITH HIS RIGHT FOOT (!!!) — in the opening minute.
You can’t say this team doesn’t make it interesting sometimes. Maybe a little too interesting sometimes. (Or a lot of times depending on how you look at it.) But they got three points, remained unbeaten in all competitions and pushed the lead atop the Serie A table back to six points over second-place Napoli.
So when you look at it that way, then it was a great Saturday. Just don’ think about how meh Juve’s overall product was on the field. That will save you a bit of time ... and stress.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Three instances that needed VAR in the first half. I can’t even remember how many games it must have taken to have three combined VAR usages.
- Not a handball, huh?
- There was a point around the 22-minute mark in the first half where Nicolo Barella gave Rodrigo Bentancur a hug after the former committed a foul on the latter. Clearly they’re meant to be best friends and Barella is going to sign with Juventus next summer. It’s just science.
- Also of note: Barella’s name was barely called after that tackle on Bentancur. Sooooo .. take that as you will.
- Wojciech Szczesny had to make one save and holy crap it was really, really good.
- Rodrigo Bentancur: Three total tackles, six interceptions, 88 percent pass success rate. That’ll do just fine.
- Giorgio Chiellini was shown on the Juventus bench in the closing minutes of Saturday’s win. He wasn’t called up for the game due to injury, but he was still sitting there with his usually-intense glare and had a green bib on like he was about to go warm up on the sidelines. Again, he wasn’t going to play regardless, yet he still was there. What a captain.
- Speaking of captains, Juventus are now 2-0 when Paulo Dybala wears the captain’s armband.
- I’m not trying to criticize, just generally curious: Is there anything more Joao Cancelo could have done to prevent Joao Pedro from doing what he did to tie the game at 1-1? Asking for a friend because I really have no idea.
- Douglas Costa in 45 minutes of play had three key passes, four accurate long balls, attempted three crosses and was pretty much doing what Douglas Costa does a lot of the time when he’s on the field. Yeah, more of where that came from now that you’re back, Dougie.
- Juventus closed the game with three central defenders, three fullbacks, one central midfielder, a winger and two strikers on the field. I think ti was a 4-3-3, but nearly an hour after the final whistle sounded I’m trying to figure everything out. Help a friend, please.
- Enjoy your weekend because Paulo Dybala and Joao Cancelo certainly gave you a reason to.