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Manu’s Grab Bag: International Break Blues

A lifeless match is saved by Moise Kean’s heroics.

Juventus FC via Getty Images

I’m going to tell you a story.

Let me paint a picture: It’s Saturday morning in Mexico City. In a surprise twist, I didn’t go out Friday night so I’m not hungover and find myself with a whole full day to be productive, seizing the moment I decide to find something new to do.

I go out for some breakfast and stumble upon a street vendor, peddling some typical Mexican garb and fresh fruit juice. I’ve never eaten there before, so why not? I order a couple quesadillas and a cup of “Anti-Flu” juice. Now, whether or not the juice actually helps with flu like symptoms is very much in doubt, it’s mostly a blend of citruses, Guava and Pineapple with nondescript seeds. But I’ve been battling a cold for two weeks now and I’m willing to try anything at this point.

I get my order, which comes down to 70 Mexican pesos (around three or four bucks) — good stuff. Mexico might have a lot of problems, but I’ll tell you what, you won’t starve. I hand them a 200 pesos bill and here is where the story hits an impasse.

As I hand them the bill, I’m told they don’t have any change and can’t charge me. We looked at each other for a solid five seconds before I wondered out loud, “What now?” Only to be hit back with the most nonchalant, “Dunno,” by the septuagenarian running this particular stand. I don’t think I’m being particularly unreasonable here, it’s a 200 bill for a 70 pesos check. It’s a bit over twice the amount, I’m not trying to pay here with a 500 bill or a 1,000-peso bill. It feels like I’m not in the wrong here.

As this particular, odd stare down continues, I remain there waiting for someone, anyone to tell me how to proceed here. The people running the stand confer between one another, figuring out if anyone has enough cash on hand to give me change for the 200 bill. They don’t.

“So, can I pay? Can I eat? How do we go from here, you guys?”

“Look, just take it, on the house. You’re here too early”

And that’s the story of how I got comped free breakfast at a street vendor stand because of the apparent difficulty of breaking up a bill, waking up early and just a general sense of apathy from the people running the stand. The juice was good, but I still have the flu.

That story might be, at best, mildly amusing. But I guarantee you is more interesting than anything that happened during most of Saturday’s game between Juventus and Empoli — one of the most drab, lifeless, boring games I’ve had the duty to watch.

But still, let’s break it down, because Juve did win and there was one definitive bright spot worth talking about.

Loser: Paulo Dybala

It’s been a rough going for the Argentinian forward as of late. His minutes have decreased as Federico Bernardeschi has been on a tear and a more favorable running mate to Cristiano Ronaldo than him, so he hast struggled to find his form consistently. So, Saturday’s game was as good a chance as any to get back on track, and with Ronaldo resting due to injury, it was expected that Dybala would be more central part of their attacking plan. Unfortunately, destiny had other plans as La Joya, couldn’t even get on the pitch as an issue with his hamstring in warmups kept him out of the starting lineup and the game entirely.

It’s a tough break, and of course the injury is not his fault, but a tough break, nonetheless. Max Allegri mentioned after the fact that his removal was more of a precaution than anything else and hopefully, we can see Dybala back, maybe even in the mid-week fixture we got coming.

Winner: Leonardo Spinazzola

Great game for Spinazzola coming on as a sub for Alex Sandro in the second half. He injected a lot of dynamism going forward and continued his strong run of play in the month of March.

With Sandro being a hit or miss proposition this last month, Spinazzola has taken his chance and ran with it, putting forth strong performance after strong performance. At this point, I’m not particularly sure who I want starting against Ajax in the Champions League quarterfinals. I think, it’s an actual debate now, truly incredible development by the Italian, who was expected to be a bit of a rotation player this season but has played himself into serious consideration for big games.

Winner: Moise Kean

How good is this kid?! As soon as he was getting subbed in, my immediate reaction was “Oh, yeah, we got this, no worries.”

Unbelievable what we are seeing from the young Italian, no big deal, cap off a two-goal international break for the Azzurri by coming on and scoring the winning goal in a deadlocked game. It’s unfathomable to me how he wasn’t getting any playing time before this, after what we are seeing from him.

Dude is a playmaker, a game changer in every possible way and he is freaking 19 years old. Lock him up, until 2030.

Song of the week for… Juventus FC

The Kids Are Alright by, The Who!

As long as we have Moise, it’s all good.


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