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Manu’s Grab Bag: Continuing Progress

It wasn’t an impressive win, but it was another win for Maurizio Sarri to try and build off of in the early weeks of the season.

Brescia Calcio v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

It’s weird, midweek Serie A fixture day! They’re forcing working stiffs like myself to make up a colorful excuses to have a two-hour break on a weekday, so, if my bosses ask, I had a “bank thing” to take care off. I’m not a great liar.

Anyway, Juventus visited recently-promoted side Brescia in a game that had all the makings of an unlikely upset and looked well on its way to be just that after an early Brescia goal.

It was not meant to be for the underdogs, however, as Juventus roared back and kept the pressure up for most of the match to secure a much-needed 2-1 victory.

Lots to talk about so, let’s cook.

Things I Google’d during the game

  • Brescia
  • Where is Brescia
  • Brescia 2018-2019 kit buy
  • Euro to Mexican Peso equivalency
  • Sandro Tonalli
  • Sandro Tonalli FIFA 19
  • Emre Can wages
  • Free agent fullbacks
  • Is Patrice Evra still playing?

MVP: Paulo Dybala

Back-to-back starts for La Joya and he put forth another impressive performance. He’s already looking much more dynamic than he was last season. He’s being deployed more centrally, a position where he can be a much bigger part of the buildup, instead of the wide positions he was usually working out of in Max Allegri’s system.

His partnership with Aaron Ramsey, another bright point of the evening for Juventus, continues to develop as they both had several dangerous linkups. With, Gonzalo Higuain continuing to falter, it might be time to have Dybala take his spot in the lineup.

Brescia Calcio v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

Winner: Mario Balotelli and all of us, really

Full disclosure, I love Mario Balotelli.

Yes, the guy is a nutcase. The dictionary definition of wasted potential, a baffling player to root for and a frustrating one to have on your team. But, damn, you gotta respect how willing he is to just play the heel.

Balotelli had his much ballyhooed return to Serie A spoiled by Juventus’ win, but he still managed to do all sorts of Balotelli things. He was flopping all over the place, going down at even the slightest contact by a defender, leering at the ref every time a call went against him and shooting every shot imaginable from any distance with zero fear.

He even managed to have some decent spells of play. It was the full Balo experience and I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Loser: Gonzalo Higuain

Really rough day at the office for Pipita.

Wasn’t much of a factor in the build-up for the majority of the day and had a couple clear cut chances that he should have tucked away slip by his fingers.

(You could argue he had three, but one was barely offsides. He still missed it.)

Higuain continues to be given shots at the starting gig mostly due to his previous experience in Maurizio Sarri’s system, but, outside of his debut against Parma, he hasn’t really impressed.

TBD: Adrien Rabiot

One of the most hyped offseason signings finally made his debut for the team, Rabiot was used as a left midfielder, essentially replacing Blaise Matuidi, the man Sarri called irreplaceable in his system.

And he looked … OK? Bears mentioning this was his first official game in almost a year, so some rust was to be expected — and boy, did it show. However, as the game went along, he seemed to get a better grasp of the speed of the game and should have had a goal if not for a fantastic save from the Brescia keeper.

While Matuidi has performed quite well in Sarri’s system, you could see flashes of why Rabiot was brought in. Rabiot has a much better touch and handle on the ball than his fellow Frenchman. As soon as he gets his sea legs back he’s going to be a problem, guaranteed.

Most Random Cristiano Ronaldo Advertisement of the Week

Unfortunately, Ronaldo picked up a minor knock and couldn’t form part of the team for this fixture. Which is a shame because I would have really loved to see him paired with Dybala and Ramsey instead of Higuain. Oh well, I bet we will see that lineup soon enough. In the meantime, that doesn’t mean we can’t revisit another baffling endorsement from the man himself.

This is so great, I love this so much. Say what you will of the man, but if that ain’t a hustler, I don’t know what is. On the topic, what is it with super mega stars shilling for foreign companies that is so funny? Like Leonardo DiCaprio making a weird ass whiskey ad in Japan? Or Burt Reynolds shilling yoghurt with a singing rabbit?

I know it’s money, but it has to be SO MUCH money, right?

Anyways, now you know, for all your steel needs you can trust Egyptian Steel. Ronaldo does, so why not?

Parting Shot of the Week

It’s slow, the development continues to be slow but we all knew it was going to be, right? What I can say is that the more games these players have together, the more you can see them start to gel.

At first it was a couple plays, moments, really. Now you can actually start to see whole parts of the game where the team really seems to be getting the hang of the system.

Weirdly enough, it was kind of helpful that Brescia went ahead since they dropped pretty much everyone to defend at times. It was those moments where you could start to see the improvements, Juventus tried and probed to get an opening and more often than not, did get one. That was Sarriball at its finest and it’s looking encouraging.

Let’s keep it rolling.

See you next weekend.