There wasn’t a whole lot to take out of Juventus’ 1-0 win over AC Milan in the 2018 Supercoppa Italiana final that was actually played 16 days into 2019 on Wednesday night in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Well, unless you love 1-0 games that are played in so-so atmospheres in foreign countries. (Nailed that one, Lega Calcio.)
Or that you are a fan of VAR and the calls that are or not reviewed during a game.
Or that you think that Juventus has fixed the referees into once again making sure that every questionable call goes in favor of the team that’s won the last seven Serie A titles.
So, other than that, there’s nothing much to see here.
By the simple product that was put out there, this wasn’t the grand old spectacle that is meant of a cup final between two of Italy’s most historic clubs. Juventus are obviously slowly ramping things up again with the Champions League in mind after coming out of the new year holiday break, and it’s not exactly like they were humming at full on go for much of the match even though they had nearly 62 percent of the possession.
It was, though, the kind of game we’ve seen plenty of times from Juventus this season. And that’s not really including the fact that Juventus blasted more scoring opportunities well over the crossbar than they actually pot shots on frame against a Milan defense that has been anything close to reliable this season.
But, when it was all said and done, we saw Cristiano Ronaldo decide a cup final that allowed Juventus to win their first trophy of the season. It’s obviously not the main trophy that Juve brought Ronaldo in to try and win, but it never hurts to have that guy scoring game-winning goals for the team that has dominated Italian football for the last seven-plus seasons.
It wasn’t a pretty win. It wasn’t a game where how Juve played will be the main topic of discussion in the Italian papers tomorrow morning, if I have to try and read the situation hours before they go to print. It wasn’t the kind of grand final that Italian higher-ups were hoping for. (Although the paycheck from Saudi Arabian sports organizers will probably ease that pain a little bit ... or a lot.)
But, Juventus won. And that’s cool with me.
Now let me go get some popcorn as I watch people yell about VAR again.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- I’m stealing this from the BWRAO Twitter feed: There are first halves where it seems like 45 minutes is actually 20 minutes and the game just flies by. This first half, one that featured more yellow cards (4) than shots on goal (1), was not one of those occasions.
- That ball Miralem Pjanic played to Cristiano Ronaldo ... my goodness gracious. I can watch that 1,000 times over and never get tired of it.
- Should Gianluigi Donnarumma done better on Ronaldo’s goal? Because I feel like he should have done better on it after watching some of the replays.
- This was vintage Douglas Costa, and Milan’s fullbacks really had no answer for him a good portion of the night. We saw the speed, we saw the skill, we saw the tricks and everything in between. The only thing that was missing was a goal from the speedy Brazilian — and he almost got that in the first half when his left-footed bender just missed sneaking in at the back stick.
- Alex Sandro was really, really good.
- Joao Cancelo, just back from injury, was also really, really good.
- Juventus’ defense as a whole — yes, that includes Leonardo Bonucci, y’all — was really, really good overall.
- Total tackles Wednesday night: Joao Cancelo — 7; Milan’s entire team — 6
- Giorgio Chiellini had eight clearances. EIGHT. He blocked a couple more shots. He had a few more interceptions. (Three, according to WhoScored, if you’re curious.) I know I’ve written about it recently and it is a common theme in post-game threads, but good god is he having a fantastic season. It’s so damn impressive.
- Rodrigo Bentancur had to be subbed off a couple of minutes after he pulled up and was seen clearly limping. Let us now have a prayer circle for my son Rodrigo and hope that he is not injured for any length of time that is more than just a couple of days.
- Does it make sense to you that Pjanic, who got a yellow card Wednesday night, has to sit out Juve’s next game (against Chievo on Monday) because of yellow card accumulation? This just seems little bit odd to me.
- Sami Khedira came on for Douglas Costa late in the second half. I can’t think two players who are the complete opposite of one another being involved in a substitution before.
- Wojciech Szczesny had to make one save against Milan on Wednesday night. But don’t worry because it’s the ref’s fault, everybody.
- I’ll leave you with this: Claudio Marchisio, rocking a Zenit shirt while chilling in his new place of residence in Russia, was posting halftime messages on Instagram to his former Juventus teammates. Once a Juventino, always a Juventino. Never change, Cla.