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Manu’s Grab Bag: Hell in a pitch

In a mercilessly hot summer day Juventus put forth a lackluster display against a fiery Fiorentina

ACF Fiorentina v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

Seven out of nine ain’t so bad.

That’s the only thing that I could come up with out of this game to keep me sane.

And in a vacuum? They really ain’t! Away at Firenze is always a tough game, especially right after an international break. And two injuries in the first 45 minutes to arguably two of your most important players is a huge blow to any team.

This is fine!

Seven out of nine points — keep telling yourselves that, folks. Seven out of nine!

Let’s cook.

Winner: Frank Ribery

It is never a good thing for Juventus when the first winner is a guy playing for the other team, but, listen, I was led to believe that Ribery was washed. Folks, he is not if this game is any indication. I honestly thought Ribery was coming to Fiorentina to cash a few paychecks and live in Firenze — which, honestly? Sweet gig if you can get it.

However, the French veteran was all over the place, toasting Juve’s fullbacks multiple times and consistently bringing pressure to Juve’s defense. The tackle he made coming back to defend on Cristiano Ronaldo was one of the most shocking things I’ve seen from a dude I legitimately believed should have retired last season.

Cheers to you, my guy, unlikely bright spot of this game.

Loser: Juventus strength and conditioning staff

How many cramps can you have in one game, guys? I know, I know, we are barely back from the international break and it was very hot in Firenze, whatever. Being handicapped 45 minutes into the game by having to use two of your three subs because of muscle pulls is not ideal.

Juventus played complacent, lackadaisical football for most of the afternoon, but if you want to cut them some slack that’s where you have to be looking. Being unable to make any subs in the second half to get fresh legs into the game was definitely a big culprit for Juventus play.

With a quick turnaround to start Champions League season at Atletico Madrid in a few days, let’s say that the staff at J Medical is going to have to put some extra hours to try to get this team to anything close to match fitness.

Loser: Federico Bernardeschi

I believe in Fede. I do. I really want to believe he’ll take that next step. We know he can do it, we all saw it last year in the return leg against Atletico. It’s just that we don’t see that enough, and Saturday was another disappointing showing for the young Italian winger.

With Douglas Costa out early, Bernardeschi essentially started the game for Juventus and had very little to show for his efforts. There’s another huge game coming up and with Costa’s injury looking like it will take a while to heal, Bernardeschi might be slated to start against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

Will we see the guy who failed to make any sort of impact against Fiorentina? Or the dynamic superstar we saw the last time he faced off against Los Colchoneros?

Winner: The Johnny Square Experience

You hear that sound right now?

Oh yes, baby, that’s Juan Cuadrado’s music. That’s Juan Cuadrado, your new starting right back in a pivotal Champions League game. There is no way of knowing what’s going to happen — will he be a dynamic box-to-box fullback with solid defending chops and great attacking input like he was during stretches of the 2015-2016 campaign? Will he be a wild card that pisses you off constantly for 90 minutes?

You don’t know, I don’t know, we haven’t seen the dude for what feels like two years and he is now the STARTER. How?! We are three weeks in!

Don’t question it and let yourselves go, because its Johnny Square time and we are in for a bumpy ride.

GIF I wanted to submit to Danny instead of writing a column

Most Random Cristiano Ronaldo Endorsement

It is no secret that CR7 is a multimillionaire not only for his footballing skills, but also for his business acumen. My guy rakes the cash in from all sorts of different places, and while doing research for a different piece I fell down the Cristiano Ronaldo endorsements rabbit hole. Folks, its quite a rabbit hole indeed.

So, welcome to the newest reoccurring segment of the Grab Bag, the most random Cristiano Ronaldo endorsement of the week.

Let’s start off with a relatively recent one: It’s Clear Men dandruff shampoo! Straight up, I have never understood the reasoning behind becoming the spokesperson for dandruff shampoo.

“Hey, I used to have dandruff, but not anymore!”

Cool for you, Cristiano, I guess? Anyway, there’s like a 30% chance he actually never held that bottle of shampoo and it’s just a solid photoshop. This is in no way a criticism by the way — if Clear Men wants to sponsor this column right here, I will scream into the heavens that Clear Men saved me from the evils of dandruff forever, I will sell out, quick.

Think about it @Sponsors

Parting shot of the week

As previously mentioned, it’s hard to make a complete judgement when the team is so decimated, and it forces you to make subs on the fly. It’s hard to make a judgement when the season is barely starting and it’s Maurizio Sarri’s first game on the bench. It’s hard to make a judgement when you are coming off an international break.

Still, at some point, a judgement has got to be made and with the level of talent in this squad it is an unavoidable fact that the bar is set pretty high and the leash will be very short.

In what seems like no time at all, Juventus has their first European test on Wednesday. It’s, overall, still too but a loss in Madrid will inevitably accelerate the timeline of that final judgement and the result might not be good.

See you all mid-week.