In the aftermath of Juventus’ 2-0 win over Udinese, a lot of the space in the post-game thread was dedicated to Paulo Dybala’s return to goal-scoring form. The other goal scorer that evening, Gonzalo Higuain, just so happened to also remind us that he’s hitting a very nice patch of form as the middle of March arrives.
Juve’s No. 9 only continued that again on Wednesday night.
With his goal — and his third assist in as many games, too — in Wednesday night’s 2-0 win over Atalanta at Allianz Stadium, Higuain extended a run of form that has seen him score 10 goals in his last 10 games in all competitions. He was on the back end of an absolutely deadly counterattack that saw Douglas Costa burn about half of Atalanta’s starting XI before dishing it off to Higuain, who calmly finished a shot into the bottom corner at the back post.
And not only has Pipita been in great goal-scoring form of late, he’s been efficient as all freakin’ hell on top of it, too.
@G_Higuain has scored 6️⃣ goals with his last 7️⃣ shots on target in @SerieA_TIM. #JuveAtalanta pic.twitter.com/Ht1jHU9sB3— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) March 14, 2018
Let us just go ahead and do a quick refresher course on how the Serie A table has changed since the month of March began, shall we?
Two weeks ago, Juventus trailed Napoli by four points in the standings.
Now, two weeks later, Juventus are the ones who have a four-point lead atop the table.
The fact is, the first team to blink was going to be the club that got burnt. It would either mean Juve fell further behind Napoli and extending the streak of six straight Scudetti would be thrown into serious doubt or that Juve would finally be able to leapfrog Napoli once and for all after not leading the league since the early weeks of the season.
Luckily for us around here, the latter has happened — and a decently comfortable lead atop the Serie A standings has come along with it in a relatively short amount of time.
In the last 15 league games, Juventus has won 14 of them. Over that span, they’ve allowed all of one goal, which just so happened to be scored by a former Juventus player (Martin Caceres). Results-wise, they’ve done everything that has been needed to put themselves in position to overtake Napoli and take advantage of any kind of slip-up. The way Napoli were going, it wasn’t always going to be clear when said brief slip-up would take place, but as early-March struggles hit, Juventus were there to strike.
And now, because of it, a four-point deficit is a four-point lead.
There are a lot of players to credit for that. But getting Higuain back to being the Higuain we know he can be as the season gets ready to hit its home stretch is pretty much music to our ears.
Keep on feeding the big man. (And yeah, maybe that is a chubby Gonzalo joke. Sue me.)
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Juventus had three shots on goal. Two went for goals.
- Gigi Buffon didn’t have to make a save on Wednesday night. Sounds like a pretty relaxing return to the starting lineup.
- Did anybody have flashbacks to Momo Sissoko on Mattia De Scigilio’s absolute random yet brilliant long ball to Paulo Dybala that led to Blaise Matuidi’s goal? Because I just did.
- For however long he is a Juventus player, seeing Douglas Costa shoot forward with that kind of speed like he did to set up Higuain is something I will never tire of. The acceleration, the ability to control the ball the way he is able to despite going so damn fast and then the vision to find Higuain and put a pass on an absolute dime, you can’t find many players who can do that in Serie A. And he only seems to be getting better as time goes on this season.
- Dybala didn’t score a goal, but he definitely had a good game. Just about the only thing he didn’t do was find the back of the net. But if he keeps playing the way he has in recent weeks, that will take care of itself. It’s good to have Paulo back, that’s for sure.
- Giorgio Chiellini on Wednesday night: Team-high four interceptions and a team-high seven clearances. It’s almost like he’s just doing this game after game after game. (Maybe because he is.)
- Medhi Benatia was also quite good against Atalanta and his jersey being ripped has provided us with a very appropriate meme to take out of this game.
- I know there’s no immediate solution for it, but I sure would like to see Mattia Caldara and his nagging back problem to be fixed in a hurry. It sucks to see the youngster called up for all of these games against Juventus and barely play in any of them.
- The 4-2-3-1 has its pluses, but it also has its minuses. We saw both against Atalanta even though it seemed like Juve were pretty much on cruise control for virtually the entire 90 minutes.
- Just a reminder: Juventus was trailing Napoli by four points TWO WEEKS AGO.
- One more game before the international break and it’s against a S.P.A.L. team that is sitting just outside the relegation zone with 10 games to go. I feel like it will be an absolute grinder where Juve don’t play all that well and win 1-0 or 2-0 or just absolutely crush S.P.A.L. and roll into the break on an absolute high. There’s only one way to find out...