Sometimes when life grows dreary, when the bills pile heavy on the mantle, when the hours at work slog along like a snail walking reverse on a treadmill, when the commute is less fun than a jagged spork scraping away at your eyeballs — at times like these I like to remember life’s smaller luxuries, the tiny bits of wonder and goodness sprinkled throughout the earth. The small things that are all too often easy to overlook.
For Juventus, one of the tiny luxuries is the precision and perfection of corner kicks.
For many sides, corner kicks look like this (I know it’s a free kick — give me a break). Sometimes this, apparently. Even this happens now and then.
But for Juventus, for the lads in black and white, Miralem Pjanic and Paulo Dybala step to the corner flag and in-swing and out-swing the most perfect dainty, delectable corner kick dishes in the world. And against AC Milan and the player who plays center back for that team who formerly played for Juventus, the good guys scored three times off corner kicks. Heck, even the one non-corner kick goal came shortly after a corner kick.
To quote Danny quoting me, “And then Juve won!”
The loss to Real Madrid aside, and despite pieces like this declaring the end of Juventus, or like this declaring the end of an era, the team is staring yet another league double square in the eyes. Unless Juventus lose both remaining games and Napoli win both remaining games by a margin of like 50, the double is done. And, for me at least, when I look at players like Paulo Dybala, Douglas Costa, Federico Bernardeschi, Rodrigo Bentancur — of course I could keep going — I don’t see the end of an era anywhere near the horizon.
People talk; Juventus win. Other teams complain; Juventus forge ahead.
Maybe Massimiliano Allegri said it best: “I’ll wait for you all at the finish line.”
A tantalizing collection of titillating tidbits.
- I’m extremely happy for the smallest Brazilian man on the team, Douglas Costa, for netting another goal, because goodness knows he’s assisted his share. And I’m extremely extremely excited (I’m a good writer) that next year Douglas Costa is on our team and will be unleashed on the unfortunate world from the get-go, rather than being eased into the squad. All that said, it’s a tad sad to me that Paulo Dybala, who played a damn fine second half, didn’t convert anything — Gianluigi Donnarumma must only try against La Joya.
- Juan Cuadrado: work in progress, but making progress. It was the pressure from the Colombian, after all, that led to DC’s goal, as Cuadrado, high up on the right flank, made a couple moves, dribbling to the corner of the box and drawing multiple defenders to him, and then dished to the Flash streaking in like a bolt of South American lightning. (Or does the Southern Hemisphere lightning strike the opposite way, like toilets?) Either way, it was great. I think Mattia De Sciglio is a rock defensively, which Cuadrado certainly is not at this point in time, but he’s quite hesitant moving forward and doesn’t put a lot of pressure on defenses there.
- Mario Mandzukic did many Mr. No Good things out there against Milan, and it was amazing to behold. The center back of Milan who formerly played at Juventus seemed to have no idea how to respond.
- The first half was obviously really meh, and that stretch of goals in the second half was obviously amazing, but really, as Danny said, that second half was about as good as we’ve seen these guys play for 45 consecutive minutes, so it’s perfect timing for when we play Liverpool in Kiev — oh wait, damn it. Sad face.
- But really, after some of Juve’s not-great-looking form this year — which is hilarious considering the amount of goals Juve scored and the amount of points they tallied over the season — this is such a grand way to finish out the year: a week in Rome pounding Milan and (hopefully) scratching aside Roma to mathematically seal the deal, and then one final celebration in Turin. The team deserves it.
Onto the awards:
***NEW AWARD*** The Michelangelo Sculpture Award
For the player whose body language exudes positivity and an indefinable Bianconeri spirit.
I’m not going to lie, sometimes I have a hard time understanding why the Coppa Nazionale is that big of a deal. I realize it’s the least important trophy of the three Juve are always chasing, in a way. But still, Allegri talks about it like it’s this huge deal, something super important, but I’ve occasionally had thoughts that sort of basically end with me thinking we should just throw the tournament so the dudes can rest because, like whoever pointed out the other day, Juventus have played approximately 99.999 percent of possible games in the last few years, and the guys deserve a rest.
But screw me! Allegri is right. This shit is important!
This award goes to every single Juventus player who suited up for the Coppa Nazionale, because I get jacked up and excited when I see Carlo freaking Pinsoglio jumping around, hootin’ and hollerin’ like a jackrabbit at a discotheque after drinking the Energizer Bunny’s favorite energy drink — when I see that, I get excited!
Cuadrado jumped on Allegri’s back and sprayed the top of his head with stuff. Allegri himself couldn’t stop smiling. Dybala looked like a 7-year-old boy who just got let out of math class to the freedom of a double-recess. Douglas Costa jumped up and down spraying a water bottle. Players embraced. Woj joined Carlo and Gigi for a goalie trifecta huddle. Claudio Marchisio directed the jumping dance circle situation.
It was just beautiful, all the staff and the players so happy and jumping around about having won a trophy. Hell yeah!
Giuseppe Garibaldi Award
For the man of the match.
Two men named “Gigi” walk into a bar.
One of them is an old man, 40, with children and gray hairs and a well-documented history of stripping down to his underwear.
The other is a teenager. Since he was a young lad he was told he was the future king between the goal posts for club and country. He may have even believed he had a chance to play for Italy in the 2018 World Cup, but then Italy didn’t make the World Cup so it didn’t matter.
The old man is old, but confident and cool as a cucumber.
He struggles mightily with growing what on most other men would be called a “beard.” Despite his millions in the bank, he may still have problems talking with women. Despite his gloves, he forgets occasionally to catch the ball.
In the bar, the old man orders a 2000 vintage Barolo. The young man orders (he’s in Italy so he can legally order alcohol) a vodka Red Bull, for he is young and knows nothing of the world.
After the bar, the two men go to the football stadium in Rome. The old man decides that he would like to win the game, so he allows exactly zero goals. The young man allows his mind to wander to some woman or other whom he is courting, and he forgets how to catch the ball and makes some very nice saves intermittently, in the end conceding four times and once even to his own team.
The old man is forever.
Buffon ends his career without a Champions League trophy, but this is a pretty smooth sunset all the same.