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Landmarks of Turin Awards: Juventus vs Hellas Verona Edition

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Juventus v Hellas Verona FC - Serie A Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

I remember a man who caught a shark.

The beach was ugly — a Texas Gulf Coast beach, with khaki sand and brown water and sometimes brown seaweed thrown up on the shore, but it was the kind of beach where blue-collar folks from Houston came, large swathes of them, in their trucks and trailers, with tents and fireworks. On the Fourth of July the place teems with bodies: kids, parents, teenagers, college students.

Every now and then someone would fish in the surf, and every now and then someone would catch something and put the fish in their truck or golf cart and take it home.

But once there was a man who caught a shark — he reeled it in heavy with the thick, taught line all the way out pretty deep. It was a blacktip shark, not the most intimidating or largest. Maybe it was a few feet long.

What I remember is the man bringing it on shore — the shark still thrashing about for life — and the crowds gathering around it. Instead of whisking the shark away to clean it, instead of hootin’ and hollerin’ with his buds and puffing out his chest, the man invited the crowds into him. Children went up to touch the rough wet skin of the fish. Everyone wanted a sight of it, and the man gave it to them.

When Gianluigi Buffon exited Saturday’s game for the final time in a Juventus kit at the hour mark, I was reminded of the scenes in memory or history of a person who condescends to the people — of the Pope, of Mother Teresa. When Gigi ambled slowly around the stadium, shaking hands, adorning himself with scarves, I thought about how he’d probably have bruises the next day.

Maybe Buffon isn’t the Pope, but he’s the damn closest thing the football world has got. I’m not crying; you’re crying!

Aperitivi

A tantalizing collection of titillating tidbits.

  • And Juventus won!
  • The competition was truly awful, and this game was never really about the game, but the midfield of Claudio Marchisio, Rodrigo Bentancur, and Miralem Pjanic was pretty fun. I think playing two of those three at a time with someone like Emre Can or Blaise Matuidi (or whomever Juve may acquire) could yield some pretty big results.
  • Despite Max Allegri saying that Juventus don’t need to “revamp themselves” a while back, the roster sure looks like it’s in for a pretty massive overhaul. Buffon, Stephan Lichtsteiner, and Kwadwo Asamoah are confirmed departures. What about Andrea Barzagli? What about Alex Sandro? The Gonzalo Higuain/Paulo Dybala/Mario Mandzukic front line?
  • What a weird game. Juventus weren’t playing for anything in one sense, having wrapped up the Scudetto and basically just trying to honor Gigi, and Hellas Verona had nothing but a tiny scrap of pride left to play for as they’d been relegated before the season began (heh, sorry).
  • Mira’s free kick was very, very tasty. It’s nice to see him end the season that way.
  • And now on to endless, fruitless transfer rumors for months and months and months. At least there is the World Cup, despite Italy (and the United States) not being in it. Given those two countries are out, I’ve probably defaulted to rooting for underdogs/crazy upsets and Juventus players to do well.

Onto the awards:

Giuseppe Garibaldi Award

For the man of the match.

The MOTM award No. 1 goes to Paulo Dybala, who didn’t score and didn’t assist but whose first touch looked as good as ever. I know people keep saying Argentina can’t play Messi and Paulo at the same time, but why the hell not? I feel like Messi has been showing really well as almost a regista lately, sitting a bit further back as he gets older, so I wouldn’t mind them trying to maybe throw Dybala on his faux-right wing position or something.

But what do I know!

Giuseppe Garibaldi Award

For the man of the match.

Damn, what can’t Douglas Costa do? Every time that guy has been on the pitch in the last two months, he’s basically looked like the best player out there. He’s fast as hell. He dribbles so well. The ball sticks to his foot. His crosses are generally good. He can create chances out of nothing. And I feel like — am I right about this? — working with Allegri has really made him a complete player. At the beginning of the year it seemed like the Brazilian was sort of nominally “playing defense,” but now he’s actually tracking all the way back, marking, and every once and a while even winning back possession or at the very least disrupting the opponent pretty severely.

DC is the present and the future, although he turns 28 in September. Expect this man to start and feature in virtually every meaningful game next year. I’d love to see him rack up 15 goals and 15 assists, and I think it’s entirely possible.

Giuseppe Garibaldi Award

For the man of the match.

I’m not a much of a cryer. I think crying is good and all that and probably healthy and maybe I should cry a little more often, and it’s not like I wept or anything during Gigi’s last game, but there were some tears that were shed. Things happened. I mostly teared up when I saw all the Juventus fans — some children, even, who’ve literally never not seen Gigi on Juventus — crying. And boy were they weeping.

It was fun to see Gigi not get scored on, to make a couple saves even. But it’s not going to be fun if he decides to go to PSG or something like that. Selfishly, I hope he hangs up the boots and ends his career on a wonderful run the last few years.

But really, whatever he decides, I’ll be happy for him.

Ciao, capitano.