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Juventus 2 - Lokomotiv Moscow 1: Initial reaction and random observations

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Hello, Douglas Costa, my old friend.

FBL-EUR-C1-LOKOMOTIV-JUVENTUS Photo by DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images

Maurizio Sarri said at his pre-match press conference Tuesday evening that sometimes there are simply games where a moment or two of individual brilliance is what it’s going to take to win you a match.

Juventus did it two weeks ago against Lokomotiv Moscow thanks to Paulo Dybala’s two-minute brace late in the second half.

Wednesday night, against the same Lokomotiv Moscow side, it was Douglas Costa’s turn to take over the game-winning goal responsibilities.

The Flash was at his Flash best in the dying seconds of Juventus’ 2-1 win over Lokomotiv Moscow, making the kind of weaving and explosive run that only so many players in the world can make and do it with the utmost of ease. Luckily, Costa is one of those players, as his stoppage-time goal allowed Juventus salvage three points on what was a completely terrible night overall in terms of the team’s performance and advance to the Champions League knockout stages as a result.

Also note that assist from Gonzalo Higuain, too.

My WORD. That is about as good of a goal you’re going to see Juventus score this season — and the Italian champions have already scored some pretty goals through the first 2 12 months of the 2019-20 campaign.

But, the thing is, that’s the thing that Costa can provide. Sure, he’s just back from injury and Maurizio Sarri hasn’t exactly been firm when talking about what his role might be, but when Costa gets a little bit of space like he did to start that run, there’s always the possibility of that kind of goal that he scored being the end result.

It was that good.

And it wiped out — at least on paper — what was one of Juventus’ worst showings this season. I don’t think we’re going to find many disagreeing with that previous sentence. (We’re not in the business of extremely hot takes right here; we’re just stating the facts, man.)

Getting the lead three minutes into the game didn’t help. Neither did having twice the amount of possession of Lokomotiv Moscow for a good portion of the match. It was an absolute struggle for Juventus for large chunks of the trip to Russia, with either the offense sputtering or the better scoring chances being saved by Lokomotiv keeper Guilherme after his early-game howler.

Seeing Juventus struggle is just continuing what we’ve seen from this team in recent weeks. The free-flowing, Sarri-like football that we saw developing before the October international break was once again not there for Juventus on Wednesday night. These late-October and early-November wins have been nice, sure, but the overall end product is still lacking plenty when you compare it to what the team was starting to look like after the Derby d’Italia win.

Since then, it’s been a grind, and it was no different against Lokomotiv Moscow this time — and maybe more than it was the last time these two teams played against one another in Turin two weeks ago. Juve are winning, but they’re not playing particularly well, something that has basically been said after each of their games the last couple of weeks.

But, for now, let’s just admire that goal from Douglas Costa ... goodness gracious.

RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS

  • What was going through your head when Aaron Ramsey poked in the spilled free kick less than three minutes in to give Juventus a 1-0 lead? Was it that maybe, just maybe, Juve wouldn’t struggle for 90-plus minutes and need more late-game magic to beat Lokomotiv Moscow for the second time in two weeks? Because that was my thought. Oopsies.
  • Speaking of that Ramsey goal that gave Juventus the very early lead, here is a photo that amuses me and will continue to amuse me to no end:
FBL-EUR-C1-LOKOMOTIV-JUVENTUS Photo by ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images
  • I guess I could play the goalkeeper card and say that’s not very funny, but it’s just framed so perfectly and captures the moment as to when doom really does start to set in.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo struggled for the most part once again Wednesday night. Then it looked like he had a couple of words for Maurizio Sarri when he was subbed off for Paulo Dybala late in the second half. I’m sure we’ll hear nothing about that in the Italian press going forward the next couple of days, right? ... right. (Oh, we will.)
  • Gonzalo Higuain touched the ball all of 40 times on Wednesday night — that’s nine more times than Wojciech Szczesny in the Juve goal — but it was his last touch that was fantastic and allowed Costa to punctuate that run with that goal.
  • I’m still just shaking my head at how crazy that goal from Costa was. To have that kind of control, weave your way through traffic on a field that is absolutely soaked, that’s special.
  • There was a point in the second half where Juventus had twice as much possession as Lokomotiv Moscow but was being outshot by the home side. If that didn’t just sum up how things have been going for Juve lately, I don’t really know what does.
  • Daniele Rugani again looked like a defender who has barely played this season. Or maybe that’s just how Rugani is going to look whenever he gets a starting spot. I don’t know anymore because then I look at the stats and Rugani had a team-high six clearances.
  • That said, it’s not like Rugani’s central defense partner, Leonardo Bonucci, was all that great when it came to his marking responsbilities on the header that led to Lokomotiv’s goal. Just a split-second too late and the result was an early 1-0 lead going up in smoke less than 10 minutes later.
  • But I think we can agree that Bonucci’s goal line clearance at least somewhat made up for his early defensive error that allowed Lokomotiv to score. Somewhat.
  • Play Adrien Rabiot more, please.
  • Play Douglas Costa more, too, please.
  • At least we know there will be the chance to do that in the Champions League Round of 16. That, despite the totally crap team performance, is a nice thing to not worry about during the final two group stage matches. Now it’s all about finishing ahead of Atlético Madrid.