With one game to spare on the last days of November, Juventus secured the top spot in Group D of the Champions League with a 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid at Juventus Stadium. All the while, thanks to their first shutout in Europe since the first day of October, Juve remained the only team in the Top 5 European leagues to be undefeated in all competitions.
I don’t know about you guys, but that seems to me like scenario A-plus and one we would have all taken in a heartbeat when the season started. There are still some rough patches here and there but as a whole you cannot ask for better results from this Juventus team.
There’s a lot to discuss about the first place clincher, so let’s get right to it.
MVP: Paulo Dybala
That’s just Paulo Dybala casually scoring from a virtually parallel angle to the goal against one of the best goalkeepers in the game. No big deal, whatever.
Outside of that immediate goal of the week winner, Dybala was fairly impressive in general, putting forth another dashing display and being one of the most consistently dangerous Juve players on the pitch.
We, Dybala stans, do not forget y’all heathens who were perfectly fine selling La Joya for Romelu Lukaku.
Weird but true fact: Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain have been the two most consistently dangerous attackers for Juventus this season. Wild sentence to type, but true, nevertheless.
Runner Up: Mathijs de Ligt
Winner: Me, as a proud father
You always try to raise your sons right, you know? Teach them the right stuff, guide them through life in a matter that you believe will lead to them living a happy, fulfilling, righteous life. But you never know, life can be unpredictable, you don’t know how your offspring will do out in the cold, uncaring world. The best you can hope for is to give them the tools for them to succeed and hope they use them in the best way possible.
But, today, I can rest easy knowing my two large adult sons are out here thriving in pivotal Champions League matchups and know for a fact that my job here is done.
We already talked about Dybala, but it really is worth mentioning the monster game Matthijs de Ligt had Tuesday. If it wasn’t for the Argentinian momentarily bending the laws of physics, de Ligt would have been the clear cut MVP of the match. Forget the stats, which were fairly impressive in their own right, just take a look at this:
That is a world class tackle, obviously, but just the fact he had the confidence to attempt such a risky move in the box after all of the deflected balls and mishaps he’s had early on the season tells me that is a guy who’s confident in himself and his abilities.
Think about it: If that tackle is mistimed by even a tad, and we are talking about a PK in the dying minutes of what was a sure victory up to that point. Instead, we are talking about de Ligt being the defender that was promised.
Manu’s Gambling Corner
We are 4-1, people. The gambling corner is 4-1. The corner picks just cannot lose. This is a scientific fact, y’all.
As much as I want to give myself credit, getting Juve at home with plus odds was straight up robbery. Regardless of the situation, that’s a pick you got to make. The upcoming Sassuolo match is a bit trickier; Juve is a heavy favorite, with the line currently at minus-400 for a Juve win. That means you have to bet 400 to win 100, which is just not good odds in general. The tie is valued at plus-475 and a massive upset by Sassuolo at plus-1100. With the gambling corner red hot, you would think I could fall into the old hot hand fallacy, but no sir, not happening today. I know when to walk away from a bet and this is the correct weekend to skip a wager, just not worth it.
Take this one off, fellas, enjoy your winnings and back at it again next time.
Gambling Corner Record: 4-1
Rabbit Hole: Rihanna wearing Juventus gear
Off the bat, there was no way Juve was losing with the GOAT sitting in the stands in a personalized RiRi kit. It just was not happening. Second of all, the photo triggered a memory of seeing a similar picture once before, and after diving headfirst into my liked Twitter tab, I found it:
Evidence mounting, let’s check out something else:
CONFIRMED: Rihanna is a Juve fan. I guarantee you she has spicy takes about Sami Khedira still playing. Yep, 100% guaranteed.
Anyway, that did lead me to a rabbit hole of celebrities wearing Juve gear. Here, just earlier this week, is the Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell:
Which, fun fact, it all started because Mitchell wanted to play as Juventus in FIFA20, which, bad news, my guy. He fired a tweet asking the world why he couldn’t do it and the Juventus social media team got to work sending the Utah Jazz All-Star player a care package full of gear:
We here at the Grab Bag give the Juventus social media team a hard time on occasion, but folks, this is PR and marketing done right.
Lastly, I don’t really know if this was a thing having to do anything with the Juventus PR team or just lucky happenstance, but a few years ago Drake was out here repping the Bianconeri as well:
Maybe this was in a misguided attempt to lure Rihanna, noted Juve enthusiast? Who knows, but all in all, it is nice to see the club get some shine internationally.
Parting Shot of the Week
The first real objective of the season has been achieved, first in the group. With the way the groups are seeded and the draw, being first in the group only gets you so far to be fair, but still, its always better to be first whenever you can.
(Watch us draw like, Real Madrid, in the round of 16.)
The young stalwarts showed up and Juve finish the tie against their toughest opponent in the group stage with a win at home and a tie away. I don’t really know if Atletico will make noise in this Champions League campaign but as litmus test goes, it was a solid showing by Juve.
See you next Sunday.