I’m going to begin this post-game thread with an observation that I have certainly said here before. And, if you’ve thought or said the same thing, just go ahead and nod your head, put your hand up in the air or just simply say so.
If it wasn’t for the opposing goalkeeper, in this case Bologna’s Lukasz Skorupski, what was a close final scoreline would have been anything but that.
We’ve seen it this season with Etrit Berisha in Juve’s win over SPAL late last month. We saw it again Saturday night with Skorupski in goal for Bologna, with save after save after save preventing Juventus from getting any kind of separation from a team the Italian champions thoroughly dominated yet at the same time had to grind out a 2-1 win against. If not for Skorupski, Cristiano Ronaldo would have had more than just one goal. If not for Skorupski, Gonzalo Higuain would have had a goal to top off another quality performance leading the line. And if not for Skorupski, Juventus’ win would have been incredibly comfortable rather than one where we were swearing it out until the end.
You know, the literal end when Gigi Buffon made about as last-second of a last-second save could be to ensure that Juventus didn’t drop points in its return from the international break.
Can’t. Stop. Watching. Literally cannot. Even as I type this.
I don’t care if I’m one of the top members of the Buffon Hive. You make that kind of save, with that little time left in stoppage time and you’re getting old man jokes thrown your direction whenever you play, it’s just incredible.
Dude is 41 years and still making saves that keep three points in Juve’s pocket. And in a game like that, where late-game — hell, last-second! — heroics were needed, there’s Superman ready to be the hero we all needed.
Because of it, Juventus now has a four-point lead atop the Serie A table for at least the next 12 hours or so until Inter returns to the field against Sassuolo for the Sunday lunchtime kickoff.
And, surely, over the course of that period of time we will hear about the no-call that was Matthijs de Ligt’s sliding whiff of a clearance that subsequently bounced off the ground and then onto his elbow. We will probably hear conspiracies about how Juventus gets all of the calls and all of that usual nonsense or how VAR is continuing to be wildly inconsistent and nobody really knows what a true handball is anymore.
But, what we do know is that Juventus dominated possession, dominated the shot chart and really shouldn’t have needed a Buffon super-save to ensure the victory.
The problem was, the guy in the opposing goal was making more saves in one game than Buffon has had to make all season — especially in the second half which saw Juve rack up seven shots in the first 10 minutes after the break and 13 over the course of the final 45-plus minutes.
Basically, it was one of those games, the kind we’ve become rather accustomed to over the last few years where the final score doesn’t necessarily show what kind of game it was. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe that’s a bad thing. I don’t really know.
All I do know is that if not for Lukasz Skorupski, a few more of those 23 shots that Juventus recorded Saturday night would have found the back of the net, with a 2-1 win being just a momentary thought in our mind rather than seeing the current Serie A leaders sneaking past their pesky visitors.
Oh, and Gigi Buffon is still the GOAT. You best remember that, too.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Maurizio Sarri on Friday: Aaron Ramsey is ready to make his return to the match day squad.
- Maurizio Sarri on Saturday: Aaron Ramsey has not been called up to the match day squad.
- So when it comes to what Ramsey’s status is for Tuesday night’s Champions League fixture, your guess might as well be as good as mine at this point.
- Remember when Andrea Poli was one of the young, up-and-coming Italian midfielders in Serie A? He’s no 30 years old, sporting some sort of man bun and the captain of Bologna.
- When looking at the starting lineups and the individual battles that were going to take place, the Alex Sandro vs. Riccardo Orsolini one was probably one of the best. After 90 minutes, I think it’s safe to say that Sandro one that matchup with room to spare. Just think about how he beasted Orsolini off the ball to start the counterattack that led to Ronaldo’s goal.
- Miralem Pjanic is on a completely different level this season. Like, maybe the best we’ve seen him play over the course of his Juventus career. I said it on Twitter during the second half, but the ease at which Pjanic is making some of these high-difficulty is just insane to watch. He’s so dialed in right now that you kinda figured that the free kick he had in the first half was gonna be scored even before it was kicked. (It didn’t even hit the frame.) Pjanic did get his goal, giving him more goals in Serie A play than he had all of last season. We talk a lot about the impact Sarri has made on this team, and Pjanic is one of the biggest examples of that.
- Ronaldo looked pretty terrible on his first two shot attempts Saturday night, absolutely scuffing the two scoring chances he had. And then he goes and scores that kind of goal, beating Skorupski at the near post with an absolute rocket of a shot. Not a bad way to record goal No. 701 in your career. (And it should have been more, too.)
- I’m really happy that Alex Sandro is back to being Good Alex Sandro again. It’s fun.
- We got a little bit of Bad Juan Cuadrado on Bologna’s goal. Sure, it was extremely well-taken and all of that good stuff, but who knows if Danilo could have actually gotten that shot off if Cuadrado had closed him down in quicker fashion. (Or at all.)
- Federico Bernardeschi was very good after the halftime break. If a couple of his teammates either make the run Bernardeschi expected them to or continued the run they started when the pass was made, Fede has an assist to show for his quality second half. It was definitely one of his better showings since moving into the trequartista role with Ramsey out.
- Also good: Adrien Rabiot. The more time he gets to shake off the rust, the better he is going to be. Maybe that will result in some of these stupid transfer rumors actually dying off for good because they’re pretty damn stupid.