With the final whistle sounding in Juventus’ 2-0 win over Lazio on Saturday evening, we can now do the quick math and say that Juventus has scored five goals through their first two games of the season. All five of those goals have been scored by five different players — and none of them happen to go by the name of Cristiano Ronaldo.
What a €100 million bust, right?
OK, so it’s only been two games and Ronaldo hasn’t scored a goal yet. He will probably tell you he should have on this Saturday seeing as he had a wide-open goal to shoot into in the play that saw Mario Mandzukic double Juve’s lead against Lazio. One deflection from Thomas Strakosha threw off the timing of everything, meaning that what Ronaldo probably thought was going to be an easy tap-in ended up being one of the more unpredictable assists he’s recorded in his career.
But, hey, I’ll take.
And at least he was able to smile — sarcastic as it obviously was because of what just happened a couple of seconds before — as Mandzukic roared and pumped his fist skyward as he faced the curva.
The finishes on the goals from Mandzukic and Miralem Pjanic were some of the few glamorous moments in Saturday’s home opener. It wasn’t the avalanche of scoring chances that we saw seven days earlier at the Bentegodi or anything close to it really. It resembled more of that classic grind-it-out kind of Juventus game we’ve seen so often where they take a first-half lead and then rely more on sound defense than putting loads of pressure on the opposing defense to extend their lead.
Case in point is this:
- Ronaldo attempted nine shots in the season-opening win against Chievo.
- Juventus, as a team, recorded 14 shots in the home-opening win against Lazio.
Tougher competition, obviously, but even with a possession edge it wasn’t like Juventus were putting Strakosha under siege from the opening kickoff onward.
There were mistakes, plenty of them, that Max Allegri will certainly be noting down in his memory and as he goes back over the video of this. For as pretty as some of the crosses Federico Bernardeschi, Joao Cancelo and Alex Sandro put in, there were definitely moments where Juve’s passing left a lot to be desired. (I mean, seriously, how many of Lazio’s chances were creating out of a Juve player turning the ball over?)
But, it was a win. Not a pretty one. Not a Ronaldo-inspired one. Yet a win.
Two games down, two wins in the pocket.
I’m cool with that.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Just a suggestion for ESPN: If you’re going to comment about how Allianz Stadium has come to life after a Juventus player does something really cool, you might want to let your viewers actually be able to hear it. This broadcast wasn’t exactly a prime example of great sound mixing by any means.
- For the first 28 minutes, Pjanic’s game was, in a word, crap. I even sent out a tweet about it! About 30 seconds after I hit the send button, Pjanic went on and did a really good thing. I really wish I had that kind of impact on other aspects of my life.
- We’re going to be saying for weeks and months that Cancelo’s defensive abilities are going to be a work in progress. But this game — especially the second half — really showed what kind of presence he can be down the right wing in the offensive side of things. He attempted eight cross — EIGHT! — from his right back position. After halftime he was really involved, and had the ball that ended up resulting in Ronaldo’s “assist” to Mandzukic. This was definitely a step up from his game against Chievo — and that’s a good thing.
- For the record, Douglas Costa came on in the 59th minute and attempted five crosses. If Allegri was looking for instant energy, he couldn’t have brought on a better player.
- I feel like this was the first game where we were reminded what kind of threat Leonardo Bonucci’s passing from the back really is. He made things happen, and it was really dangerous early on as Lazio were pressing like a bunch of madmen.
- If you want to try and find Ciro Immobile, you might want to try and look in Giorgio Chiellini’s pocket.
- If you want to try and model your fitness levels off a Juventus player not named Ronaldo (since he’s a physical freak), I’d say that Blaise Matuidi is a pretty good bet. The dude was everywhere and I’m not surprised at all that the dude recorded seven tackles on the day.
- Glad to see Rodrigo Bentancur get his customary five minutes of game time just as it was last season.
- Memo to Max: More Bentancur, please.
- Allegri didn’t sub Emre Can for Sami Khedira and I am confused because I thought that was about as like-for-like as you can get.
- We get to see Parma’s extremely pretty new uniforms next weekend and I am excited about it.