Simply because of who Max Allegri rolled out there for Juventus’ Coppa Italia Round of 16 tie against Bologna, my were eyes were fixed on one player and one player only. It wasn’t Sami Khedira wearing the captain’s armband. It wasn’t Douglas Costa or Federico Bernardeschi getting some much-needed playing time out on the wings.
It was Moise Kean, Juve’s 18-year-old starlet who was making his first-ever start in bianconero on the same ground where he scored his first-ever senior squad goal.
And what do you know, Kean made his mark at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara — again.
Goals from Bernardeschi and Kean on either side of halftime allowed Juventus to begin their latest Coppa Italia defense with a relatively stress-free 2-0 win over relegation battlers Bologna on a frigid Saturday night at the Dall’Ara.
So what do you do when you score a goal in the same game that you’ve made your first start at the club you’ve grown up at? Dance on ‘em. (Let me add a “TAKE THAT!” to the folks in attendance who reportedly hurled some racial insults at Kean on one of his first touches of the ball in the game.)
Look at my son. Do your thing, my guy.
This game was as much about the debutants — Kean and Leonardo Spinazzola, playing his first senior squad action since he was with Atalanta — as it was about Juve looking to start the new year off on the right foot. As it turned out, both Kean and Spinazzola, products of the Juventus youth academy, were two of their side’s best players on the night — which is pretty impressive when you consider one of them has barely played at all this season and the other one has only gotten minutes with the primavera squad.
Sure, Juve’s opposition was pretty crap. It might be a minor miracle if Pippo Inzaghi makes it until February or March based on how the first five months of the season have gone for Bologna. And it’s not like they really did much to change that on Saturday night, rarely even giving Wojciech Szczesny much to worry about in goal. (So I guess Max’s plan to make sure Tek was good for the Supercoppa on Wednesday by playing against Bologna was about as easy as it gets, huh?)
But, the best thing about Juve’s win was that they didn’t let Bologna hang around. They were in command from the very beginning and never let Bologna really do much of anything that would make you think that their early 1-0 lead thanks to Bernardeschi hopping on a massive defensive error was really in any kind of danger.
That’s what you want to see in those types of games. As much as the second half might have been Juve on complete cruise control, Bologna never even got park.
When it’s a smooth, easy win like that against a team Juventus should do that to, then we’re all good in my book. And seeing Moise Kean dance a little bit was pretty fun, too.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Is this good?
- Of course Medhi Benatia gets hurt in warmups right before he’s about to make a rare start. That’s just another frustrating chapter in what has been a pretty disappointing season for him on a personal level.
- Yeah, I’m cool with Moise Kean getting more playing time with Mario Mandzukic reportedly out for the next month or so. (Then again, that shouldn’t surprise anybody who reads this blog on a regular basis.)
- Remember Riccardo Orsolini? He came off the bench for Bologna in the second half.
- Leonardo Spinazzola last played against a team in Italy’s top flight 10 months ago on March 18, 2018, in Atalanta’s 5-0 win over Hellas Verona. (Moise Kean did not play in that game, in case you were wondering.) It’s been a long road back for the 25-year-old, surely. And to say that Saturday night was a huge accomplishment for him is probably an understatement after undergoing major knee surgery on his meniscus. He passed this test with flying colors, and in a second half of the season where Juve want to be playing on all three fronts come April and May, having Spinazzola around could prove vital in keeping Alex Sandro fresh.
- I guess what I’m trying to say there is this: Don’t loan out Leonardo Spinazzola, okay, Juventus? He can stay.
- Poor Federico Mattiello. It’s never fun trying to mark Douglas Costa — especially when he’s feeling it like he was Saturday.
- Max Allegri just subbed on Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala and Alex Sandro because he wanted to show everybody he could do that, right? I mean, that’s such a flex.
- I’m very happy that Juventus didn’t pull a Milan from earlier in the day and mess around enough to see things go into extra time. Very well done, guys. I’ll leave you on that.