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Manu’s Grab Bag: 2020 is a go

It’s the first Grab Bag of the Decade, as we talk iPod Shuffles, the backline of the future and New Year’s resolutions

Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus FC celebrate after scoring a... Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images


After a long, harsh, uncaring winter break in which Juventus faithful had to live with the memories of that awful loss in Saudi Arabia against Lazio in the Super Cup, the Bianconeri were finally back in friendly confines and facing a rather tricky opponent in Cagliari, one of the surprises of the Serie A season so far.

Was this going to be another letdown of a game? Why is it being played on a freaking Monday morning where some of us live? How can I low-key stream a game at the office?

The answers, in order: No; beats me; and with a very liberal use of the ALT+SHIFT keys, folks.

Let’s get right to it.

MVP: Cristiano Ronaldo

Bow down to your new ponytail-wearing overlord!

Ronaldo did three things on Monday with varying degrees of success.

The bad: Woof, that haircut, holy crap. Look, I get that if you are an objectively attractive dude who is also jacked and a multimillionaire, you rightfully believe you can get away with more things than most. But, that’s a legitimately awful hairstyle choice. Do better, my guy.

The good: Three goals and an assist! Ronaldo’s rough spell of a few weeks ago seems to be officially gone as the Portuguese scored his eighth goal in the last five Serie A matches in style. Ronaldo has always been kind of a streaky scorer, even in some of his seasons at Real Madrid, so it’s good to see him step into one of his good streaks as he showed great aggression in his first goal, capitulating on a Cagliari error at the back, was as cool as always on the penalty shot and showed great movement and positioning on his third.

The sublime:


How awesome is that? Why is he wearing an iPod shuffle in the year of our lord 2020? Judging by the color and the shape, that is either an iPod shuffle fourth or fifth gen, so, potentially, the internationally renowned Cristiano Ronaldo is out here rocking a device released in 2010 (!!!)

Remind me to never be ashamed of my slightly out of date devices ever again. Stars, they are just like us!

Runner Up: Paulo Dybala

Trending Up: Adrien Rabiot

He started the day a bit rough, but he came into his own as the game developed and ended up having a pretty solid game overall. With Rodrigo Bentancur still on the shelf for another couple of games due to suspension and Sami Khedira still out injured, it may be now or never for Rabiot to prove his worth.

In theory, the best midfield that Juventus could field to suit Sarriball is a Rabiot-Bentancur–Miralem Pjanic trio that could potentially be pretty good.

A lot of things have to go right for Juve for them to be able to do that, but, one can hope, right?

Away Team Fun Fact

Seeing Radja Nainggolan back at Cagliari is kind of a cool story. The Belgian has always been a thorn on the side of Juventus, but I have a very soft spot for players going back to the team where they broke out. Granted this move only came because he was a bit of a bust at Inter Milan and had to be shipped out, but still, I dig it.

Another thing I dug? The fact that Cagliari’s goalkeeper kit is the normal home kit when they play with their away uniforms. It’s kind of a silly thing but I like it. Plus, it reminds me of that one time that Gianluigi Buffon wore the actual Juventus stripes in a game, something that he hasn’t really done all that often in his career.

Trending Up: Juventus backline of the future

I refuse to indulge in the whole drama of whether or not Merih Demiral has taken the starting spot from Matthijs de Ligt. If de Ligt has been dealing with some knocks and with the Turkish international playing really well, why rush him back?

That makes sense, unless you purposefully try to stir drama where there is none — which, in the age of #content, makes all the sense in the world to do.

Either way, what has been definitely exciting and worth talking about is the possibility of seeing the two aforementioned players leading the Juventus defence into the new decade and beyond. As Demiral put forth another solid performance against Cagliari, one can’t help but wonder what these two could do together in a not so distant future. Leo Bonucci is getting up in age and Giorgio Chiellini has been up there for a second, plus, as much as I love the guy, it is worth asking how much can we expect from the captain after an ACL tear at the age of 35?

I would love to see the two of them share the field for an extended amount of time, maybe with an upcoming Coppa Italia tie next week looking we could finally get a chance to see them together. Or, Maurizio Sarri can deny us all and start freaking Daniele Rugani or something like that.

Parting Shot of the Week

2020 started with a bang, indeed.

While the scoreline was a beauty, Juventus still has some ways to go to reach their full potential. A fully operational Ronaldo certainly helps, but let’s not forget that Cagliari hit the woodwork twice as well, pointing to some defensive inefficiencies that could still be worked on.

Still, I ain’t the one to be a party pooper, so let’s celebrate the first win of the year in fashion and get ready for a visit to the Olimpico were Juventus is slated to pay a visit to Roma.

Lastly, let me take a chance to wish the entire BWRAO community a great start to the New Year. It is slightly illogical that we wait until a new year to start for us to try to accomplish our goals, but as someone who is slightly illogical constantly, I am one of those people and not one to judge if you are as well.

So if your goal is to lose weight, kick ass at your job, get that girl or guy you fancy or whatever it is you have set your mind to I wish you all the luck in the world.

2020 is going to be good; I can feel it, right in my plums. GO GET IT.

See you, Sunday.