Very few teams have kept Ciro Immobile off the scoresheet in the last two months. And usually when that happens, even with Lazio’s recent hot streak, the chances of good things happening just seem to increase that much more.
Well, Juventus — thanks in large part to a Wojciech Szczesny second-half double save — kept Immobile off the scoresheet.
It didn’t result in good things happening.
Juventus, at long last, finally has a loss to its name. And, thanks to a second-half crumble that officially kicked off with Juan Cuadrado getting sent off on a straight red (after VAR review), Lazio made the Serie A title race that much more interesting with a 3-1 comeback win over the eight-time defending Italian champions who look anything like a sure thing to make it nine in a row these days.
Or, a result that we figured would have happened by now simply on the merit of how the team was playing overall actually happened.
Three miracle second-half miracle saves from Szczesny and Cristiano Ronaldo’s first goal from open play in over a month couldn’t even prevent Juventus from losing.
The second half wasn’t great before Cuadrado got sent off. (In the 69th minute, too, which wasn’t all that nice, if you ask me.) And then once he did, the most in-form team Serie A has to offer these days took complete advantage.
It was a deserved go-ahead goal from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to put Lazio ahead five minutes after Cuadrado got sent off. It was a deserved result for both teams based on how they both played. (Lazio’s good, everybody!)
And, just like so many times before over the last couple of months, we’re left to wonder where Juventus is going to go from here as the Maurizio Sarri Experience is now officially hitting its first legitimate bit of adversity after weeks of getting results but not playing all that well.
Thank goodness that Wednesday night’s Champions League group stage finale doesn’t mean all that much for Juventus because I wouldn’t be feeling all that great if it did.
But, now that Lazio has officially entered its name alongside Juventus and Inter when it comes to competing for the 2019-20 season’s title, it’s just another added wrinkle to what has been a unconventional kind of road to where we are right now. Juve started out fairly well, with the feelings about Sarri’s system paying immediate dividends creating a very welcome positive feeling around the club as it looking to win Scudetto No. 9 in a row. But, since that win over Inter where Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain made us fall in love with Juve’s Argentinian contingent once again, it’s been an uphill battle in the sense that Juventus is generally doing just enough to get the win.
But against a team like Lazio, one that attacks the way it does and has plenty of offensive outlets other than the scorching-hot Immobile, just enough isn’t close to enough.
Juventus had to play well to get the win at the Stadio Olimpico.
Instead, Juve didn’t play all that well once again — especially once they actually got the lead on Ronaldo’s goal. (That combination play between Dybala, Rodrigo Bentancur and Ronaldo, though .... beautiful, man.)
This doesn’t mean Sarri should go.
This doesn’t even mean that Sarri’s seat should be hot. (Although, you never know because of all the cigarettes he smokes.)
But what it does mean is that Juventus needs to get its act together soon so that the “Sarri’s system looks better as time goes on” line of thinking actually has the chance of happening.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- So, after the second-half showing you just watched against Lazio, who’s excited for the Supercoppa in a couple of weeks?
- Ciro Immobile had 22 touches, took six shots, had two shots on goal and saw both of them saved by Szczesny — and Juventus lost.
- Paulo Dybala almost scored an olimpico at the Olimpico.
- Paulo Dybala also missed a near-wide open goal in the second half after a horrible piece of passing by the Lazio backline. Who knows what the final score ends up being after that, but that chance is going to loom quite large. (Plus, with the form Dybala has been in, you expect him to finish that kind of opportunity 15 times out of 10.)
- Here’s a name Juventus should sign to play in its midfield: Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. Just an idea.
- My son Rodrigo Bentancur was out here thriving in the first half an hour before he had to be subbed off due to an injury that he picked when going in for a tackle. His assist to Ronaldo was fantastic and he was having a really good game overall. Let’s just hope this injury doesn’t keep him out all that long because Juve are starting to run out of midfield options.
- Bentancur had two key passes before he was taken off in the 40th minute. Everybody else in a Juventus jersey had three key passes combined. That’s ... not great.
- Emre Can’s first five minutes after coming on for Bentancur involved a turnover on his first touch, nearly giving away a penalty and also creating one of Juve’s best scoring chances of the first half.
- Luis Alberto’s assist on Lazio’s goal just before halftime was about as perfect as you can get it. No wonder he’s the first player to reach 10 assists in Europe’s top 5 leagues.
- Federico Bernardeschi completed just two more passes than Wojciech Szczesny and touched the ball all of 16 times in the first half. SIXTEEN!
- It’s the 92nd minute and Juve’s best scoring chance in stoppage time was Danilo’s shot that’s still flying into the curva with his left foot that wasn’t even close to goal. If you wanted something to sum up how the second half went, I guess that might be it for you.
- Wojciech Szczesny saw Lazio score three goals against him and absolutely none of them were his fault. Sometimes being a goalkeeper can be quite cruel — especially when you allow three goals and make the kind of saves Tek did all in the same game.
- Volume shooter Cristiano Ronaldo had two shots in 90-plus minutes.
- Miralem Pjanic: 6.17 WhoScored rating. He really has to play poorly for WhoScored’s rating system to give Pjanic something that low.
- Danilo had more touches than Emre Can and played half as many minutes.
- Maybe we should have known this game would end up going poorly after Lazio’s first cross into the box was cleared straight up into the air by Leonardo Bonucci, then failed to be cleared by Bonucci again and then shanked off of Alex Sandro’s foot.