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Juventus 1 - Empoli 0: Initial reaction and random observations

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The #MoiseKeanStanClub is now accepting applications

Juventus FC via Getty Images

I don’t know how much Paulo Dybala getting hurt all of 15 minutes before kickoff on Saturday impacted Max Allegri’s plans. It obviously wasn’t in Allegri’s original plans to have four central midfielders in the starting lineup, with two of them basically playing as makeshift wide players against an Empoli side that ended up being quite ambitious in attack.

But these two things I do know following the final whistle sounding:

  1. Whatever Allegri did at halftime, it worked wonders.
  2. Give me Moise Kean or give me death.

Less than two minutes after being brought on as a sub, Juventus’ red-hot 19-year-old starlet wrapped up what has been an incredible month of March with one more goal, this one being the game-winner in Juve’s less-than-impressive 1-0 win over Empoli at Allianz Stadium. Kean, fresh off one hell of an international break with Italy, didn’t even need two minutes — or more than two touches — to make his mark with his latest bit of skill that allowed him to show off his dancing skills one more time.

(We will never tire of that, that’s for sure.)

Let’s just go ahead and recap Kean’s month of March, OK?

  • March 8: Starts against Udinese, scores two goals.
  • March 12: Comes on as a sub against Atlético Madrid, new scores the game-winning goal.
  • March 23: Makes first senior international start for Italy, scores first senior level goal in a win over Finland.
  • March 26: Starts again for Italy, scores again.
  • March 30: Comes on as a sub in the 69th minute, scores the game-winning goal against Empoli.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m going to say that March has been very, very good for Moise — and I’m more than happy to see him have many, many more months like this.

Even before he scored the pair of goals against Udinese at the beginning of the month, the cries for Kean to get more playing time were there.

On Saturday, Juventus needed every bit of the energy Kean — as well as Leonardo Spinazzola — brought to the table in the second half.

Let’s just say that the opening half against Empoli was ... not exactly the best kind of football we’ve seen from Juventus this season. Juve were pretty much just sending cross after cross in without much impact at all. Empoli were clearly the better side, and the fact that the visitors had nearly 60 percent of the possession heading into the break was only a massive piece of evidence to support that. Empoli, sitting all of one point outside of the relegation zone, didn’t try and sit back to gain a single point like so many provincial sides do when they make their way to Turin. Essentially, they came to Allianz Stadium to try and win, not try to avoid losing.

And, until Kean stepped onto the field, that plan was working.

Then on stepped our new, braided up and swagged out hero, who is making one hell of a case to be handed the No. 9 jersey come the start of next season.

Just like pretty much every other time he’s played for club or country this month, Kean made his presence be known. Because of it, we’re not dominating the conversation with how Juventus played like crap for the second straight game.

Instead, we’re talking about Moise Kean — and he’s pretty much forcing us to at this point.

RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS

  • Moise Kean!
  • Can we just go ahead and also appreciate the assist Mario Mandzukic recorded on Kean’s game-winning goal? I mean, that header was just perfectly placed into the path of Kean’s run and far from what you would call from an easy angle to pull off.
  • I’m not going to declare it a complete thing right now, but the situation at left back is very, very interesting. Alex Sandro is obviously the mainstay and the starter, but he’s completely out of form and there’s a player in Spinazzola who is only continuing to impress when given the chance for both club and country. Just something to watch.
  • Allegri said after the game that Dybala was held out of the lineup as a precaution following his thigh injury in pre-game warmups. If that’s the case, then that’s probably the best we could have hoped for.
  • This was probably the busiest game Wojciech Szczesny has had where he didn’t technically have to make a save in a quite a while. There were plenty of moments in the first half where Empoli where just creating chance after chance, but fortunately none of them were on frame. (Not that Szczesny wouldn’t have gotten the job done, but you know what I mean.)
  • Empoli finished with 57 percent of the possession in a game ... against Juventus ... at Allianz Stadium. I’m pretty sure that’s not one of the things I expected to take place in the hours leading up to kickoff.
  • Another sign that WhoScored’s ratings aren’t always on point: Joao Cancelo is Juve’s second-highest rated player and it’s not like he had that good of a game, and certainly not one that would be closing in on a mark of 8.
  • If you were to try and predict the player who would have the cross that led to one of Juventus’ best scoring chances in the game, where would Blaise Matuidi rank? Probably not all that high up there, right? Well, he did just that, and it almost led to Mandzukic breaking his scoreless streak that dates back to December 2018.
  • Federico Bernardeschi’s game can pretty be summed up like Juventus’ as a whole — a pretty poor first half, but got better as the night went on. Berna could very well have scored a couple of goals in the second half, hitting one off the woodwork and seeing a really, really good side volley go just over the crossbar.
  • Just in case you guys were wondering, this win allowed Juventus to clinch a Champions League spot for next season. I know it was a thing you all were completely stressing about, so I’m glad I could ease some of your tension a bit.
  • One more thing: Moise Kean!