Over the years, the Ex Effect has not been very kind to Juventus. It has sometimes been the determining factor in games that Juventus have lost, with players that formerly wore bianconero coming back to haunt the club that used to hand them over a paycheck every other week.
The Ex Effect was in, ahem, effect at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday night.
But in a rare twist, it was actually working in Juventus’ favor for a change.
That’s due to the fact that former Juventus striker Simone Zaza, whose stint on the black and white side of Turin was mainly a forgettable run outside of that goal against Napoli, playing a vital role in the lone goal that was score in the season’s first Derby della Mole of the 2018-19 season. It wasn’t the kick of the ball that Zaza put forward, instead the horrible backpass that led to Torino backup keeper Salvador Ichazo being forced to slide right on through Mario Mandzukic in the 18-yard box, a penalty correctly being called and then Cristiano Ronaldo successfully slotting home away said attempt from the spot as Juve claimed the 199th Turin derby with a 1-0 win over Torino.
And just for giggles, there’s this picture involving Zaza from one of the last Turin derbies he was involved in.
If you notice the the keeper that he’s yelling at, that would be Ichazo, who came on for the injured Salvatore Sirigu and almost — emphasis on almost — saved Ronaldo’s penalty that would have kept the game scoreless and made for a rather interesting final 20 minutes of time.
Instead, Ronaldo’s shot had just enough steam on it to prevent Ichazo from saving it and put Juventus in front of little brother from across town.
And in a typical derby, one that was about as glamorous and stylish as the Stadio Olimpico field that was getting chewed up within a couple minutes of game time, sometimes it’s just one goal that’s all you need. Juventus did.
In a game that featured 30 combined fouls between the two teams, it was pretty easy — and quick — to figure out that this was going to be a grinder rather than a glamorous spectacle that some of Juventus’ other main rivalry games can be. No matter if it was Sirigu, Ichazo or Mattia Perin, neither keeper was troubled all that much. Heck, arguably Juventus’ best chance from open play, courtesy of Mario Mandzukic in the second half, saw Ronaldo called for offsides. It was just that kind of game — which is usually the case when these two teams from either side of Turin meet on the field.
Sure, the overall product was rather bland. The passing was pretty meh overall. There was no real flow to the game at all because of all the fouls and low-tempo play being put forth. But, as a great man once said around here, Juventus won and that’s good.
Make the lead atop the Serie A table 11 once again, my friends. That could go back to single digits on Sunday, who knows. But, for now, it’s 11. You know, the same number that Simone Zaza now wears at Torino.
But let’s just go ahead and make it seem like it was meant to be.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Ronaldo’s penalty kick was the 5,000th goal Juventus has ever scored in Serie A. That’s a lot.
- I would have loved there to be a microphone picking up what Mandzukic was saying to Ronaldo just after the former’s goal was called off because the latter was called for being offside. I’m guessing some of it might not have been able to be broadcast over television, but when Mario’s grumpy about something is usually the most entertaining Mandzukic there is.
- Speaking of wanting to overhear what some Juventus players were saying during the game, I would have loved to hear what Douglas Costa and Federico Bernardeschi were saying to each other as the second half went on and Max Allegri wasn’t using any one of his three subs.
- We could definitely hear what Allegri was saying in the final minutes, though. I’m sure Perin could hear every bit of the “MATIAAAAAAA!!! MATIAAAAAAA!!!” that was directed toward him as well.
- Speaking of Mattias, Mattia De Sciglio continues to be rock solid no matter which fullback position he’s playing. He’s never ever going to be the offensively-minded fullback that Joao Cancelo and Alex Sandro are, but having him as the main option off the bench is a luxury that I’m sure a whole bunch of teams wish that they had.
- I’m not doctor or anything, but crashing into Emre Can as he’s at full speed in midair seems like something that’s going to usually end up like it did for Sirigu. That was just one big dude colliding with another big dude and the bigger dude winning the battle.
- So, who else here is surprised that Simone Zaza, playing most of the game on a yellow card, wasn’t sent off with the way he was throwing his body around?
- Giorgio Chiellini was, once again, fantastic. His six interceptions are just further proof of that. He even tried to score another goal that you would never associate with Chiellini — which is just hilarious when you remember how good and unpredictable his goal against Fiorentina was.
- Not one Juventus player had a pass success rate over 85 percent. Gonna go out on a limb here and say that’s not exactly what Allegri wants to see when he looks at the final stats.
- The announcers on my stream mentioned that Paulo Dybala isn’t having a good season because he only has two Serie A goals and I wanted to bash my head against my laptop.
- Torino is, once again, bianconera, you jerks.