It’s been two games and just around 180 or 190 minutes of game time since Juventus has officially been referred to as eight-time defending Serie A champions. And in those 180-or-so minutes of game time, it’s not exactly like the quality of play has been one of a team that has the pressure of and is playing for fun after months of grinding toward a title.
I’d say that’s a surprise.
But it isn’t.
Instead, Juventus’ second game after officially becoming Scudetto winners once more resembled the unimpressive end product that we’ve seen for much of the 2018-19 campaign. With Friday night’s 1-1 draw against city rivals Torino in the Derby della Mole at Allianz Stadium, Juve has now dropped four points out of a possible six, with the template of what we’ve seen for a lot of the season replicated once again.
Juventus plays like relative crap, then gets bailed out on a goal by Cristiano Ronaldo.
It was like that last weekend against Inter Milan. And it was like that again against Torino, with Ronaldo’s 83rd-minute header off a Leonardo Spinazzola cross making the 601st club goal for Juve’s No. 7.
But at least Juventus found a sense of urgency — in the 80th minute. That was nice.
These kinds of games, regardless of them being derbies, were always going to be interesting to manage because of the lack of incentives riding on them — for Juventus, not the opposition — and how many injuries are currently present up and down Max Allegri’s squad list. The only senior squad players available on the bench Friday night were the backup goalkeeper (Carlo Pinsoglio) and a trio of defenders (Andrea Barzagli, Martin Caceres and Mattia De Sciglio), which meant Allegri’s ability to make changes would come down to just how comfortable he might be throwing one of the youngsters into the fire of a Turin derby.
It took until the 78th minute for Allegri to actually make a change, bringing on Matheus Pereira for an extremely frustrating Juan Cuadrado.
And, little did you know, once a change was made, that’s when Juventus were at their most dangerous all night.
You don’t want your team to suddenly find its sense of urgency with just over 10 minutes to go of regular time, but that was the case for Juventus against Torino, thus capping what was a relatively forgettable night of football overall.
It doesn’t matter if it was Miralem Pjanic’s efforts to hold off Torino’s press that led to the first goal of the game or Juventus’ overall product in front of the opposing goal for just about the entire match outside of Ronaldo’s big-time header and a couple of other select scoring chances.
It was basically just what we’ve seen from Juventus a large part of the 2018-19 season. Juventus did just enough to get points — or, in this case, one point — and enough not to lose.
Not that Juventus had much to play for outside of bragging rights Friday night, but it sure would be nice to see them show more than 15 minutes of good football against a team that has a lot on the line both in that game and in their remaining four fixtures.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- I guess we’re here to basically watch Juventus see out the final month of the season rather than play stress-free and free-flowing football. It was too much to ask, I guess.
- Keeping in tradition of the last few games, Moise Kean touched the ball all of 23 times against Torino. That would be good if it were in his last couple of appearances that came off the bench. This was a start — and yet Kean still didn’t get the service he needs to really thrive.
- And yet, some of Juve’s most dangerous moments — especially those in a rather drab first half — were courtesy of Kean’s runs down the right channel. I’m not saying he had a great match by any means because he didn’t, but there were moments to like about his game even though he didn’t get on the scoresheet and his WhoScored rating won’t be all that good.
- The one truly bad thing about Kean’s game Friday night: 45 percent pass completion percentage. Yikes, kiddo.
- Alex Sandro’s broken toe means Leo Spinazzola is going to get some nice playing time the final month of the season. And if he plays anything like he did against Torino, a game where he was clearly one of Juventus’ best players on the field, he’s going to finish a season where he didn’t even appear in a game until the middle of January on a very high note. And it could also mean that Juventus has some decisions to make when it comes to the left back position as well.
- In total, Spinazzola attempted 11 crosses Friday night. As a team, Torino attempted 10.
- I’m still wondering what Miralem Pjanic was thinking on the sequence that led to Torino’s goal. Why oh why didn’t you just try and pass it back to Wojciech Szczesny, Mire?
- Federico Berndardeschi’s second straight game out on the left wing — although he was all over the field as the night went on — didn’t exactly result in much of anything, did it?
- I still miss Early Season Joao Cancelo.
- Juan Cuadrado gonna Juan Cuadrado. It’s like we should expect it by now, but those predictably frustrating moments just still get under your skin. At least they do for me.
- This was the perfect kind of matchup for Giorgio Chiellini against Andrea Belotti. He could be as physically as he wanted against an equally physical striker, and it’s not like we heard a whole lot from Torino’s captain all game. Chiellini, on the other hand, had a very Chiellini kind of game — six tackles, two interceptions, three clearances and a blocked shot.
- Who’s excited for Juventus to play Roma next weekend? Anybody? Bueller?