It’s the 80th minute. Juventus is down 2-1 even though they’ve been playing up a man for the better part of the last hour. I started looking for pictures of dejected Juventus players on the photo wire because that is going to be the first thing you all see when you head to this post. I was pissed, Mario Mandzukic was pissed, everybody with any kind of bianconero blood in their system was red lining because they were watching Juventus cough up another batch of points right in front of their eyes.
Then Juan Cuadrado, somehow, found the back of the night.
Then Gonzalo Higuain got on the back end of a Paulo Dybala cross and headed home his first goal in over a month.
From dejection to jubilation. Four paragraphs that basically translated to “JUVENTUS JUST S - - - THE BED” deleted — and I’ve never been happier to do it.
Thanks to Juve’s South American heroes, the possibility of winning a seventh straight Scudetto is still very much alive. A shocking and what seemed like totally impossible 3-2 win took place at the San Siro on Saturday night.
Juuuuuuuuuuust when we thought Juve were gonna fumble away their lead in Serie A, they pulled us back in.
All I can do is laugh. And try to get my blood pressure under 200 the best I can without the use of a couple of Hefes or multiple glasses of Bulleit.
This team. This freaking team.
The genesis of the post-game thread if that had ended as a 2-1 loss was that Juve had everything going for them within the first 20 minutes — an early lead, Inter getting a player sent off after Matias Vecino stomped on Mario Mandzukic’s ankle — and couldn’t do anything with it. That’s as on point as I can make it. Juve were not only losing to Inter, but losing to Inter with 10 men and looking like they were heading toward a Sunday where Napoli could very well jump into first with a win over Fiorentina.
It would have been the microcosm of the last couple of weeks where Juve saw its lead shrink and shrink and shrink as they dropped points in games they really shouldn’t have been dropping points in. It adds up sometimes, you know? The draw against SPAL, the draw against Crotone, the loss to Napoli and then what would have been a loss against Inter all within five weeks of one another — not great, Bob!
Luckily, this team, this freaking team, pulled the rabbit of all rabbits out of their hat.
No 2-1 loss this time.
Six days after seeing Napoli pull a last-minute winner, Juventus got one back and, at worst, the difference between first and second place in Serie A will be the same as it was entering the 35th round of fixtures.
What a ride. I’m gonna need a nap — or 12 — after this.
The pictures of Dybala, Mandzukic and Higuain with dejected looks on their faces are still in the photo tool, by the way. But, the good thing is, we won’t have to use them. Today, at least.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Me right now. If you want, you can call me Tio Danny.
- Piece of advice: There are now pictures of Mandzukic’s ankle going around Twitter. Don’t post it here, don’t click on a link that has it. It’s bad, and that’s all we need to know.
- Gonzalo Higuain had two scoring chances before his game-winner. The first one he scuffed wide at the near post. The second was high and wide the second he made contact with the ball as he sent it about 30 yards over the crossbar. The third time ended up being the charm — and thank goodness it was.
- Paulo Dybala had been in a rut the last couple of weeks. It was right after we thought he was hitting that form where he basically puts Juve on his back and carries them like he’s done a few times since coming to Turin. On Saturday, he turned things for the better — and thank goodness he was there to do it.
- It has been wonderful to see the clips of Mauro Icardi reacting on the bench as Juve completely steal three points from Inter.
- With that said, CAN SOMEBODY PLEASE MARK MAURO ICARDI ON A DAMN SET PIECE? I love Daniele Rugani, I really do. I love him so much that I get mocked for it by other writers around here and am perfectly okay with it. But, Daniele, that’s the one guy you don’t want to lose track of on a set piece in the box.
- After the final whistle, there was also this: The Argentine striker who scored the game-winning goal is paid by Juventus.
- It has taken me nearly 800 words to mention Douglas Costa. This was another game where picking up the option to make Douglas Costa’s loan deal with Juventus a permanent one seem like a mere formality. The dude’s completely casual yet incredibly difficult cross-field pass with the outside of his left foot to Cuadrado that led to Costa’s goal will go down as one of my favorite things of this season. He’s become vital to this team, and that’s cool.
- Another memorable moment that might be forgotten: This.
- I’m still wondering how Miralem Pjanic escaped a second yellow card.
- VAR was used twice on Saturday and got it right both times. That’s what you want to see from technology. Funny how that works...
- Max Allegri got sent off and is apparently raging on Italian television as of this writing. Can Juventus play like this from the opening whistle the final couple weeks of the year, please?
- We got Douglas Costa, Dybala, Federico Bernardeschi and Higuain all on the field at once. I know the circumstances was what none of us wanted, but this needs to happen more often.
- Closing argument: Fino alla freakin’ fine, people.