Cristiano Ronaldo’s first shot on Wednesday night was a complete shank that was hit so poorly that it went from the top left-hand corner of the penalty box all the way out for a thrown in on the opposite wing. It was something that you might expect from somebody with the foot skills of a washed former goalkeeper like yours truly, not one of the best players to ever put a jersey on in the game’s history.
Ronaldo’s second shot, though ... much, much better.
Ronaldo’s seventh goal in the first four games in the 2020 calendar year proved to be the shot that allowed the floodgates to open. Before the first half was over — and what a dominant first half it was from Juventus — Rodrigo Bentancur and Leonardo Bonucci had found the back of the net, allowing Maurizio Sarri’s side to roll to a 3-1 win over Roma in the Coppa Italia quarterfinals at Allianz Stadium.
It was yet another extended period of dominance that showed us this Juventus team is starting to click now that they’ve got half a season’s worth of games with Sarri under their belt. Juventus didn’t just look dangerous in attack, but they absolutely controlled the first half of play. And no matter what you think about Roma doing Roma-like things at the back a1s Juventus took a 3-0 lead right before the halftime whistle sounded, it’s not like they’re a side that struggles to do much of anything right like Juve’s last Coppa Italia opponent seven days earlier.
And yet, with Roma being vastly superior to Udinese, Juventus the final score was almost the same.
You figured at this point in the Coppa Italia that there wasn’t going to be any kind of easy out. It’s basically big Italian clubs left now that we’ve reached the quarterfinals, and the fact that Roma gave Juventus a run for its money the last time these two clubs played one another 10 days ago in Rome, it wouldn’t have been all that surprising to see a close game once again.
But thanks to a first half where Juventus essentially put the game away before the halftime whistle sounded, there was never going to be a repeat of what happened a week and a half ago at the Stadio Olimpico. Not even Roma scoring a pretty goal and having a much-improved second half was enough to overcome the hole that Juventus put the visitors in.
Because of it, Juve’s back in the Coppa Italia semifinals.
I, personally, enjoy this Coppa Italia quarterfinal result a lot more than what we saw from Juventus in this same round last season. That’s just me, though.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- OPTA BWRAO: Juventus has yet to lose a game with Adrien Rabiot in the starting lineup. Manbun. (Rabiot once pretty good once again on Wednesday night, and that’s gotta be a pretty encouraging sign no matter what you think about Blaise Matuidi playing most of the minutes at LCM this season.)
- Whatever feed ESPN+ has been using lately has gotten in the habit of showing Juventus’ goalkeepers on the bench whenever Juve scores a goal. With Gigi Buffon playing Wednesday night, that meant it was Wojciech Szczesny alongside Carlo Pinsoglio getting plenty of camera time. I’m all for showing the backup goalkeeper(s) reaction after every Juventus goal from here on out — especially when we get this kind of stuff.
- Final note on goalkeepers: Is that as cruel as an own goal as you can get credited with? Gigi Buffon doesn’t deserve that even if Cengiz Ünder’s shot bounced off God’s hand after clanging off the crossbar.
- If it wasn’t for Juventus jumping into the Coppa Italia fray, Rodrigo Bentancur will have gone over a month between Serie A appearances. Thank goodness for the Coppa Italia — that’s something I never expected to type! — because Bentancur was able to both get some rest after a very, very busy first half of the season while also playing enough so that he didn’t completely accumulate some rust over the last four weeks.
- I am all in favor of seeing this Bentancur-Pjanic-Rabiot midfield more often.
- Daniele Rugani has looked ... rather good in his last few appearances — which is somewhat of a surprise considering how little he has played so far this season.
- This probably isn’t a surprise to anybody seeing as he’s been doing it his entire career at Juventus, but seeing Gonzalo Higuain work his ass off both on and off the ball is still such a joy to watch. As I typed that last sentence, Higuain just spun between two defenders to start a counterattack. Sure, the pass went right to a Roma player, but the dude just works and works and works and works and doesn’t really say anything at all about it. No matter what the stats say, Higuain has been about as pleasant of a surprise as we’ve had around here in a while.
- Douglas Costa is fast.
- Douglas Costa needs to stay healthy so that Maurizio Sarri has options.
- Can you imagine what a healthy Douglas Costa would add to this team if were to stay fit for an extended period of time like he did two years ago?
- Juventus will face Milan or Torino — who play each other next week — in the semifinals. Who you got?