Confession: I have blown up this lede paragraph more than once. And if you had anything close to an idea how Juventus went about beating Napoli 4-3 on Saturday night, you would probably understand why the delete button has been used more often than taking the Lord’s name in vain over the course of the last couple of hours.
It was that kind of game.
It was that kind of roller coaster.
That’s the easy way to describe what just went down at Allianz Stadium. If you want more details, feel free to stay tuned for their recently-married (and the birthday boy from earlier in the week) Sam Lopresti to recap the match in much, much more detail.
Annnnnd ... publish!
OK, so it’s not so simple as that. I’m not going to roll out after 130-something words. It’s far from simple. And that’s especially true when you consider that Juventus was leading 3-0 an hour into the game after Cristiano Ronaldo snagged his first goal of the season on a brilliant cross from the left side of the 18-yard box from Douglas Costa.
That was when we just thought Juventus would cruise to a convincing win over their hated rival. That’s when the jokes started. I’ve got receipts in the BWRAO Slack channel on comments from yours truly to back that last sentence up. Your Twitter feed probably started rolling with versions of NapLOLi or screenshots of Napoli players looking completely shocked after falling behind by three goals. We all thought it was over — and it with how Juve were playing, that’s pretty much the only option that was available to select.
Then it was 3-1.
Then it was 3-2 all of a couple minutes later.
Then Matthijs de Ligt started looking like a 20-year-old defender making his Juventus debut rather than a force of nature that had Juventus drooling over the possibility of signing him this summer. (His first half was so drama free, too, man ...)
Then it was 3-3 and the BWRAO Twitter account started getting spammed with tweets about how much Juve miss Giorgio Chiellini and de Ligt was a simple media creation who I hadn’t heard about until Ajax came to Turin in the Champions League quarterfinals last season.
In the span of about 20 minutes, Juventus went from flying high to looking like an absolute dumpster fire that was looking about the complete opposite from how they were playing in the opening 45 minutes. Napoli went for it, and it paid off about as well as Carlo Ancelotti could have hoped for when he changed things up — including taking off his captain Lorenzo Insigne — to begin the second half.
And what was the cherry on top of the wild second half? Autogol.
A absolute THRILLER ends in Napoli heartbreak after Kalidou Koulibaly's own goal wins it for Juventus. pic.twitter.com/6xyMQkAu0v— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 31, 2019
There’s a lot of ways to go about looking at this game. A lot of it will come down to the failures of de Ligt in the second half. A good portion of it will also be about how Juve completely shut things off after they went about 3-0 with a half hour to go even though they were playing against a team that dropped four goals in their season opener last weekend.
What looked like complete frustration turned into at least some semblance of joy.
I mean, a stoppage-time own goal to beat Napoli is just ... I don’t know.
I’ve blown this thread up so many times I don’t know what to say anymore. Hit publish, idiot.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Kalidou Koulibaly is a fantastic player and seems like a genuinely quality human being. I don’t like when bad things happen to good people, but I’d be lying if I didn’t celebrate ... and try to figure out why one of the best defenders in the world suddenly looked like me trying to clear the ball with his left foot.
- Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci both went up to Koulibaly after the final whistle and gave him a hug and some words of encouragement. Class.
- The way that Higuain, Sami Khedira and Blaise Matuidi all played — especially in the first half — I am expecting the entire Juventus corner of the internet to explode. I didn’t expect any of this ... and neither did you. If you did, you’re lying.
- That Higuain goal was about as classic of a Higuain goal as you can get. Not only was there the turn and control, but he absolutely destroyed one of the best defenders there is with a couple touches of the ball. After a completely forgettable 12 months in Milan and London, maybe being back in Turin with a chip on his shoulder is what he needed to restart what was a pretty good career just a couple of years ago.
- Let us not forget that the whole first-half blitz right before Danilo’s stunning opening goal started with one hell of a save from Wojciech Szczesny. It was just beautiful.
- Seriously, Danilo’s first impression was completely outrageous and I guess I’m here for it.
- If you had Danilo being named Man of the Match by WhoScored an hour before kickoff, you should just go ahead and buy about 25 lottery tickets and watch the magic happen.
- Speaking of Brazilians on Juventus’ roster, how good has Douglas Costa been the first two weeks of the season? This has definitely been second-half-of-the-2017-18-season Costa rather than the inconsistent — and injured — one we saw last year. The explosiveness is back, the creativity is back and, most importantly, Douglas Costa is back. I’m more than happy to have fun with this two-game sample size.
- Another Brazil-related thought: Alex Sandro, that guy was a tackling machine.
- I hope you all noticed that Juventus allowed three goals AFTER Sami Khedira was subbed out for his doppelganger Emre Can. Difference maker.
- Floppin Dries Mertens. Very sad!
- If anybody tells you that Paulo Dybala didn’t do anything after he came on for Gonzalo Higuain in the second half, just go ahead and remind them who won the free kick that led to the game-winning own goal. Thank you.
- I have written about 1,000 words now. I think that should. That game absolutely crushed any kind of common logic I have in my head anyway, so there you go.