Before we even had the chance to fully say “Aw, crap Miralem Pjanic has to come off injured,” his replacement was doing what he’s been doing pretty much every time he’s been in the lineup the last four months. And then he just kept dishing out assists like it was an episode of Oprah right before Christmas.
A sudden change in both personnel and formation turned into the Douglas Costa show at Allianz Stadium. In the span of 30 minutes, Juventus’ on-loan Brazilian winger from Bayern Munich dished out assists to Mario Mandzukic, Beneditk Howedes and Sami Khedira to lead Juve to a 3-0 win over Sampdoria on Sunday. Not only did Costa live up to his nickname of The Flash by making a lightning-quick impact, but giving Juventus a spark that it needed right before halftime on Mandzukic’s opener in the 45th minute.
So, to recap:
- Three assists. Three points on the day.
- Three plus three is six.
- Six is where Juventus’ lead atop Serie A now stands at.
It’s all quick maths.
I’d say that’s a pretty good little Sunday.
We all figured that Juventus would come out with a little something extra based on what happened the last time they were out there. The good bet was for Angry Juventus to show its face and basically hammer Sampdoria into the ground like we were playing Whac-A-Mole at the local arcade. You get eliminated from the Champions League in that kind of fashion against a club like Real Madrid who just so happen to also have a sketchy kind of past when it comes to decisions from referees, then the saltiness was most definitely going to be real.
Juve’s win over Samp might not have been a total squash, but once Douglas Costa came on and assisted on Mandzukic’s goal with his first touch, that was a wrap.
The same might be close to being said about the Scudetto race, too.
Who knew that on a day where they put an even better hold on a seventh straight Serie A title that it would be their (former) Bundesliga boys leading the way — and the biggest impact of them all coming from one that was basically forced into duty late in the first half.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Douglas Costa was WhoScored’s Man of the Match. He played 46 minutes.
- Just go ahead and make that Douglas Costa loan deal a permanent one, Beppe. I think he’s earned to have it done a few weeks early.
- As writers and people who cover sports, we all like a good comeback story. So as I was preparing to get some sleep last night, I saw the predicted lineups saying that Howedes was going to start and all I could think to myself was something along the lines of “Nahhhhhhh..” But, there Benny was, in the starting lineup when it was announced an hour before the game got underway. Howedes was solid in defense, something that wasn’t all that much of surprise seeing as that was his calling card when Juve first signed him. But that diving header, though, that’s something nobody expected to see take place. Maybe the same thing goes for him playing a full 90 minutes only because he hadn’t done it yet this season.
- Diving headers apparently make Paulo Dybala want to tweet in German.
- One could also argue that the Argentinian tweeting in German was the best thing Dybala did all day.
- Brother Sami got a lot of gruff from us around these parts during the last few months because of how poorly he was playing. The thing is, though, that Sami doesn’t resemble the Sami we’ve seen the last few weeks — and that’s a good thing. I guess this is why Max Allegri kept rolling him out there week after week. He must have thought that Khedira would come good with time, and Sami is most certainly repaying Max’s faith right now.
- When it comes to pure skill, Gonzalo Higuain is a better striker than Mario Mandzukic. But seeing the love and adoration that Mandzukic receives from the hometown crowd every time he scores a goal in Turin is so fun to see. He is absolutely adored by Juventus fans, and that’s the way it should be. We talked about Khedira’s form turning toward the better lately just a few seconds ago and that’s the same type of deal for Mandzukic. That lengthy goal drought is now officially a thing of the past.
- It’s usually good news for Juventus when a Gigi records a shutout in goal. But when two Gigis record a shutout in goal? That was double the good news for Juventus on Sunday. (And if you haven’t seen it, that save from Gigi Donnarumma against Napoli was just insane.)
- This time next weekend, Juventus could very well have a nine-point lead atop the Serie A table. I don’t know about you guys, but that sounds absolutely wonderful.