When somebody tells you it’s a game of inches, the default reaction is to usually laugh it off and then go on your way. You get it, but you probably don’t want to hear it. Maybe there’s a grin, a minor laugh or something that makes it seem like you wanna hear it, but you probably don’t.
That said, this was a game of inches for Álvaro Morata.
Inches away from a Juventus win. Inches away from at least more than one goal. Inches away from a potential hat trick. inches away from rescuing Juventus from another game where they both didn’t play that well at all and saw a player sent off in the second half.
But, as we found out in Juventus’ 1-1 draw against Crotone, it was very much not just a tale of Morata being close to scoring a trio of goals only adds up to a fraction of what actually happened. And, unfortunately for the people who actually root for Juventus, that meant a referee stealing a lot of the spotlight for the everything but the right reasons and having two massive calls — one involving Morata and the other debutant Federico Chiesa — basically swinging the game in the opposite direction of where it looked like it was heading.
The first call swung the game for the simple fact that Juventus didn’t look all that great at all with 11 players on the field, and Chiesa’s red card that was far, far from an actual red on made the matter worse. Then you have a call where Morata is BARELY offside by inches — if not less — and a potential game-winning goal is taken off the board when you might have been thinking Juve’s gonna steal three points in a game that they probably didn’t deserve to win.
Should Juve have dropped points against Crotone regardless?
Well, no, obviously not. You look at what Crotone has done so far in the early stages of their return to Serie A and it looks very much like a newly promoted side that is struggling against even middle-of-the-road top-flight opposition. Regardless of the absences due to COVID-19 positives and injuries, Juventus had the kind of lineup (on paper) that should have always come away with three points no matter how Crotone played.
And yet, we were left with a disappointing performance against a team that will likely be battling relegation ... and a referee who had more than one call that played a massive role in the final score being what it ended up being. You can deal with Juve playing poorly, but when you get terrible refereeing on top of it? Yeah, that’s when the blood begins to boil.
We knew that Juventus had a lot to improve on coming out of the draw with Roma. And missing some of your best players was never going to help Pirlo this next week or two. But Juventus didn’t look all that much better against an opponent that is a couple of steps below where Roma is. This might not have been a major step back because it’s so early in the season and there’s so many contributing factors that played a role in all of this. You just wanted to see Juventus play better against the team that was sitting dead last in the table as compared to the last time they took the field.
And they didn’t.
This one just .. yeah. To steal a quote from Janice Soprano, I got a lot of things I wanna say right now that I’m not gonna say. It’s just one of those days — and Serie A refereeing didn’t help at all.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Pre-game starting lineup thought No. 1: I guess it is Andrea Pirlo’s mission this season to keep us on our toes when it comes to who’s playing from the opening whistle each game. Knowing how the 2019-20 season went, that’s not necessarily the worst thing in the world. (Sure, some of it was out of necessity because of who was available, but still. Unpredictability!)
- Pre-game starting lineup thought No. 2: Frabotta! Portanova! That week as the Under-23 manager sure is proving to be crucial for Pirlo when it comes to identifying youngsters who can possibly contribute with the senior squad.
- It didn’t take all that long for us to get the full Federico Chiesa experience during his Juventus debut. In the opening 45 minutes you had some questionable decisions, a beautiful assist on Morata’s goal, a couple of turnovers and some really nice moments out wide. Not that we didn’t expect that from Chiesa when Juve first signed him, it was just the immediacy of it all that maybe surprised some folks a little bit.
- That assist to Morata, though ... money.
- That red card ... yeah, I got nothing.
- Leonardo Bonucci gonna Leonardo Bonucci. What a bad penalty to give away.
- On a more positive note: Merih Demiral is good.
- If Paulo Dybala wasn’t good to play any kind of minutes, why did he make the trip to Crotone? Maybe it was a game time decision and you saw how he felt during warmups or something, but it just felt weird to see him sitting on the bench knowing Juve needed a goal and not have him actually, you know, step on the field.
- WhoScored is telling me Crotone had 10 shots in the game and I maybe remember half of those. That could be the blood pressure affecting my memory of what just happened over the last two hours, so take it however you want to, folks.
- Rodrigo Bentancur completed 93 percent of his passes. That’ll play just fine, son.
- I’m glad Morata played well because he was getting some undeserved heat for how he played after the Roma game. As we know, he’s got the capability of going on a hot streak once he gets a little bit of confidence going. And, well, when you score on goal and probably should have had another two, that’s the confidence he needs right there. Now we sit back and wait to see what happens next.
- In conclusion ... /grumble/.
- Lots of /grumble/.