On Thursday and Friday nights, my wife was in Las Vegas for a work trip, leaving me to my own devices which is sometimes not the best thing. Case in point: When my wife is out of town, I tend to eat very terribly. I think I threw down multiple double cheeseburgers while she was out, a box of mac and cheese in one fell swoop, drank three cocktails da solo at a favorite bar on Friday night, and, oh yes, I watched all three Lord of the Rings movies in a span of about 20 hours from Friday night to Saturday afternoon.
While watching those hobbits and elves, here is one thing I figured out: The orcs really, really suck at fighting. They suck so bad! Like, there are points at which the main characters are just basically tapping their swords against these foul beasts, and the orcs are tumbling out of control to their doom, or else they decide that the most deadly way to approach an enemy is by flailing their arms straight up in the air so that even someone like Merry or Pippin could just slide a blade right through their gut. That’s bad fighting!
And so I thought to myself, “Geez, well, Sauron seems like a pretty powerful dude, and not super smart but also not the dumbest person on the planet, so why doesn’t he just get a better army? Recruit better soldiers or something?”
Then it hit me: Some soldiers just suck. It’s just the way of the world.
Here is the point of that 257-word lede: Like the inept orcs of Sauron’s not-so-deadly Mordor marauders, Sassuolo sucks. They suck! And again like Sauron, you can’t just go out there and find better fighters. Good-fighting orcs don’t grow on trees!
Like Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas, Juventus are much better at fighting than Sassuolo, and were basically keeping count — à la Helms Deep — of who lopped off the most heads.
Nut graf: Juventus beat Sassuolo 7-0 in Turin. Yay!
A tantalizing collection of titillating tidbits.
- WhoScored actually had this one pretty spot-on for Juve’s weaknesses: 1) “Were caught offside often,” and 2) “Committed a high number of individual errors.” The Bianconeri must have given the ball away 30 times in the first 30 minutes. There was a lot of not-good stuff there for a while.
- Obligatory “lol Inter” moment. The frequency of their misery, however, does not dampen the acuteness of my delight.
- Okay, calm down, Federico Bernardeschi wasn’t amazing — there were some rough touches in there — but don’t try to be some footy reporter with a hot take about he’s terrible or something. He recorded two assists, and the one that led to Gonzalo Higuain’s chip was just a deliciously weighted thing. Get out of here with your hot takes.
- Hot take: I kind of like Matteo Politano! I mean, he’s super short, so that’s always fun. He reminds me of a poor man’s Lorenzo Insigne. I think Politano is worth looking at as a squad rotation player. The guy is 24, pretty good technically, and I don’t know what else but I think he’d salvage some minutes here and there.
- Credit where credit is due: I thought this was Sami Khedira’s best game. The kick-back to Miralem Pjanic was juicy. He made good runs. He put the ball in the net. Even though I forged an award in the fires of Mount Doom just for him doesn’t mean I can’t compliment him!
- Federico Peluso: October 22, 1993 - February 4, 2018. May he forever rest in peace.
Onto the awards:
The Shroud of Turin Award
For the player who was never really there.
This may be the very first time I’m handing an award — although it’s a bad one — to a player from the other team. So here’s to Domenico Berardi, who was subbed off in the 58th minute (also making him eligible for the Via Madama Christina Walk of Shame Award), which was the exact minute that I realized he had played in the game.
Once hailed as one of Italy’s brightest prospects, he’s now not as good as Politano. Congratulations, Domenico!
Italian Cuisine Award
For the best collective unit, given different strengths.
Andrea Barzagli, the only living center back who was alive during the outbreak of the First World War, was a late scratch on Sunday, giving Daniele Rugani a chance to play.
Do you remember him?
He was once deemed the next great Italian center back, and then . . . the great benching, etc. Well, I for one thought he played great. It was his scrappiness that aided greatly in Alex Sandro’s opening goal. I thought he looked palpably more confident with the ball at his feet and in the air, and his passes had a little extra zip on them. Good for you, kid.
This award, of course, goes to the best unit, and Giorgio Chiellini certainly did his part. The old man did his thing on the left side, and man was he good. This is not a very hot take.
Giuseppe Garibaldi Award
For the man of the match.
The best part of Pipita’s game was that until he scored the first goal he seemed extremely unhappy and fussy, and I know there’s something to be said about how annoying this is — chill, bro, your team is winning! — I also think it’s a good thing to have a striker who’s never happy until he’s scored. That’s his job! He was doing the Higuain pouty thing for quite a bit, but he was still a huge influence on the game before he ripped Sassuolo for three beautifully taken goals.
Once again — broken record alert — he did it all: hold-up, tracking back to the midfield, facilitating, etc. etc. etc. with only one or two errant touches.
On Sunday, Pipita reaped the reward.