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Manu’s Grab Bag: Super (Cup) Letdown

Juve get trounced in Saudi Arabia, we talk about why they even play there, the first ever LVP and a sincere note to end the year.

Juventus v SS Lazio - Italian Supercup Photo by Marco Rosi/Getty Images

Watching Juventus lose is always a bummer. Watching Juventus lose in the last game of the calendar year with the season’s first trophy on the line is an even bigger bummer. But, the real kick in the teeth is the fact that this looked like a replay of a game we had seen before.

Right down to the scoreline.

Lazio beat Juventus 3-1 for the second time in a matter of weeks and has shown that, despite what the numbers and the results of the first half say, this team is vulnerable.

In a rather not-that-festive mood, this is the last Grab Bag of the year, so let’s get right down to it.

LVP: Mattia De Sciglio

In lieu of a Most Valuable Player, we have to inaugurate the award for Least Valuable Player. So, Mattia De Sciglio, come on down!

The Italian right back was all kinds of terrible against Lazio, getting the start ostensibly to offer better defensive coverage. He never got settled, continuously getting beat by Luis Alberto and providing next to nothing in attack. He got put into a total bender in Lazio’s first goal and was mercifully subbed out early in the second half for Juan Cuadrado, who accomplished more on the field in his first 10 minutes than Mattia did in a bit over 50.

I could continue to analyze his awful, not-good day, but the only thing you should know is that on a day where Lazio hounded Juventus players the minute they stepped over the middle line of the pitch, they purposefully left De Sciglio out of the game plan, leaving him open for large parts of the game and letting him be the exit strategy for Juventus.

All in all, a day to forget for both Juventus and Mattia.

Trending: Rodrigo Bentancur

This is not a typo. Bentancur had a heck of a game, was purposeful in attack and tracked back well in defense. He was one of the few players who didn’t look like they were sleepwalking out there and arguably one of the best players in the day for Juventus.

He also got red carded in the dying minutes of the game, caused a huge ruckus and now he’s going to be suspended for a couple of games thanks to him berating the refs on his way out. Oh, and the foul he committed caused Lazio’s third goal of the evening.

He did not trend up, nor down, but he sure as hell trended on Sunday.

Why is this game played in Saudi Arabia?

Money, I know it’s money.

It’s the only thing that makes any modicum of sense.

But, still in classic Serie A fashion, hosting the Super Cup in December instead of late in the preseason and then deciding to have it played in Saudi Arabia seems like such a bad idea that you have to think that it’s not only money, but a LOT of money.

Either way, forget all the ethical considerations of playing the game in a country in which there is an absolute monarchy under a totalitarian leadership — which is honestly bad enough and should ideally be a non-starter but this is Serie A, so you already know this wasn’t a problem for them.

But, even if Saudi Arabia was a perfect country with no totalitarian vibes whatsoever, it’s still dumb to do it in December when teams are tired and scheduling quirks like the fact Juventus played on Wednesday had to fly eight hours on Thursday and play on Sunday make them probably even more fatigued. This is not to make an excuse for a ghastly Juventus performance, but I bet it this whole rigmarole didn’t help either.

Plus, the crowd was dead for the majority of the game; it was so quiet that there were several instances in which you could hear the thump of the ball whenever a player kicked it too hard or the yells of the coaches on the sidelines. Only occasionally would the crowd get it up to start a chant for Cristiano Ronaldo or Paulo Dybala, but it would die within seconds and go back to mostly silence.

In conclusion, you have a morally ambiguous host nation, a schedule that makes no sense and an awful atmosphere. What a great showcase for Italian football, indeed.

We did get some absolute fire jerseys though! I’m sure those extra few thousands were definitely worth it.

Away Team Fun Fact

There is no fun fact. It’s just a fact: Lazio has Juventus’ number this season. Two games, two L’s against the Biancoceleste. A 6-2 (!!!) combined score in those two games as well, so they were not flukes.

In a season with so much uncertainty and ups and downs for the Bianconeri, the fact that both Inter and Lazio seem to be significant threats is probably ... not that great. Lazio is six points back from the league leaders at the moment, but this will definitely be a tight one, folks.

Parting Shot of the Week

I apologize in advance for this one, but it’s about to get sentimental up in this Grab Bag. After going through the BWRAO files, I realized that it’s been a year since I was given the opportunity to become a full-time contributor to this site with the Grab Bag.

So, as the calendar year comes to a close, I wanted to use this opportunity to thank everyone involved in the site from the staff, editors all the way to the community. It’s been a real pleasure to contribute to this great blog and to be able to be part of this community.

The Grab Bag’s can be sad, happy or angry, at times even hard to do, because listen, sometimes Juve barely beats Genoa and there was not a single interesting thing that happened so what am I supposed to say here? But I will never not be excited to get one done.

Writing about Juventus was a lifelong dream of mine and I’m grateful every day that I get to do it for such an awesome community.

Here’s to many more, happy holidays from ya’ boy.

See you in 2020.