If you were to judge the final score of Juventus’ trip to Sassuolo solely off what happened the first 10 or 15 minutes, then you probably would have thought that Juve’s early-2019 swoon was going to have continued.
That’s not just because of the oh-so-close call between Wojciech Szczesny and Filip Duricic that could very well have gone for a penalty if Juve’s No. 1 hadn’t timed his slide perfectly. And it’s not just because Sassuolo was came out of the blocks like their head was on fire.
It simply looked like it was going to be another grinder on a match where Juve would have to walk the tight rope between not trying to kill themselves and play effective football if they wanted to head back to Turin with all three points.
Then, it all happened. Juventus showed us that, in fact, they are still Juventus. They scored three goals for the second consecutive weekend, but there was no need to stress about any kind of late-game shenanigans happening here. History didn’t repeat itself — or come anything close to that — from last Saturday’s 3-3 draw against Parma. Instead, Juventus got goals from Sami Khedira, Cristiano Ronaldo and Emre Can to roll to an incredibly-encouraging 3-0 win over Sassuolo.
And to cap it off with this? Yeah, buddy, that’s something I can support.
Oh, that’s pretty. That’s so, so, so pretty. More of that.
So, did you have a 3-0 win over Sassuolo based on how the game started out? Did you have Juventus recording their first shutout in three weeks after so many defensive mistakes the last couple of games without Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci in the lineup?
It’s okay. You can be honest. We’re in a safe zone here.
There might have been a couple of noticeable blips along the way. Like, you know, Szczesny racing out to essentially the midfield circle in an attempt to clear the ball that almost resulted in Domenico Berardi scoring in a wide-open goal.
But even after all of the early-game action in front of the Juventus net, Sassuolo finished with just nine shots in total and Szczesny had to make all of two saves when it was said and done.
I’ll take that.
So much of this win can be credited to just how Juve were able to shake their early-game struggles off and actually play quality ball again. Sassuolo was applying so much pressure early on that Juventus was basically scrambling to get the ball back. And when they did have the ball, it’s not like they were keeping it for all too long with a handful of misplaced passes basically killing off any possession they had.
In recent weeks, we hadn’t seen any kind of reaction. Juve either continued to shoot themselves in the foot with terrible mistakes or simply couldn’t muster anything to eliminate the hole they had just dug for themselves.
But on this night, Juventus looked more like the Juventus we thought they could be in the early weeks of the season. And that’s the biggest thing to take out of this visit to the Mapei Stadium. No need for a big talking to from the captain after this trip to Sassuolo ... which is nice.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Ronaldo has played in 31 games for Juventus this season. He has 20 goals. He has 10 assists. Is that good?
- Somebody help me because I can’t stop watching Juve’s third goal. It’s just so beautiful.
- If Sami Khedira and Emre Can score in the same game, what do we call it?
- That’s the kind of Paulo Dybala performance that Juventus needs going forward as more and more importance will be placed on the Champions League. His time on the field was relatively brief on Sunday, but man he looked phenomenal.
- That’s two pretty solid games from Sami Khedira in a row. That’s ... not what I expected.
- Credit to Daniele Rugani for shaking off that big mistake early on and settling in quite nicely for the rest of the game. I guess you could say Rugani’s game mirrored that of the team as a whole — not great at first, then incredibly efficient and overall quality. After that mistake that got bailed out by Szczesny, the ESPN announcers were talking about how Rugani looks like a player that’s not playing with a bunch of confidence right now. At the end of the game, it’s pretty safe to say that Rugani’s performance was described in a very different kind of manner.
- As good as Szczesny was, it was the opposite for Andrea Consigli. Not a game that the YouTube highlight film makers will be attaching questionable music choices to in the near future.
- Mattia De Sciglio back to his quiet-yet-completely-effective kind of defensive performance. He sent in a couple of damn good crosses, too, which is always a bonus.
- Random transfer market thought: If Stefano Sensi somehow makes his way to Juventus in the next couple of years, I don’t think I would be opposed to it. That boy is having quite a season.
- When somebody comes at me about Mario Mandzukic, I’m just gonna go ahead and send them the video of him racing back to the completely other end of the field after a goal scoring chance goes wide to make a beautiful tackle on Khouma Babacar in Juve’s penalty box. It was just such the prototypical Mandzukic sequence of events where he’s doing something offensively one moment and then he’s contributing defensively what seems like 15 seconds later. Mario gonna Mario.
- I mean, really, can we just keep watching Juve’s third goal?
- Seriously. It’s so pretty.
- Juventus has an 11-point lead in Serie A with 15 games to go. It’s a wrap, folks.