My man is happy. My man is at a club where he wants to be and wants him to be there. My man is happy to be contributing again. And, most importantly right now, my man is scoring goals with Juventus’ two best strikers either out of the lineup or working their way back into it after injuries and a stomach bug.
My man Álvaro Morata just led Juventus to a win in the Champions League.
You’ve heard that before. But you haven’t heard that in a few years, and might not have been something you thought you would be reading on this blog when the month of September began or even hit its midway point.
Morata’s first-ever double in the Champions League proved to be exactly what the doctor ordered after a tough domestic result this past weekend. Morata scored on each side of the second half to lead Juventus to a 2-0 win over Dynamo Kyiv in Ukraine as the Italian champions were able to shake off the disappointing result against Crotone and began Champions League group stage action with three vital points entering their showdown with Barcelona next week.
It was Morata’s second straight start with at least a game. And, as we know, it could very well have been a second straight start with a brace if not for the nonsense that went down in Calabria all about 72 hours earlier.
Just look at the second goal Morata scored for a minute, OK?
Morata wasn’t even near the ball when Juan Cuadrado’s right foot hit the ball and sent the ball into the box. But what Cuadrado did was put the ball into a place where he knew only Morata could get to. And what does Morata do? Head it home with about as much authority as we’ve seen from him in a while.
It was the perfect kind of cap to a night where Juventus needed Morata to be the man to lead the line and provide offense — and that’s exactly what he did.
If anything, Juventus needed this win just to get some positive vibes going again. You look at the Roma draw and the Crotone draw-that-shouldn’t-have-been-a-draw and there’s two straight games when they actually took the field where they dropped points. Making it a third straight outing with dropped points, and one in the Champions League on top of it, would have been frustration on top of the original frustration from the last few Serie A games.
Were Juve dominant in this one? No, not really.
Did they play a great game? No, not really. This was far from an impressive showing.
But what they did was really prevent Dynamo Kyiv from playing their game a lot of the time. I mean, it was only until after Morata’s second goal that really was able to throw numbers forward and put Juve’s defense consistent under pressure. And it wasn’t until those final five or 10 minutes that Dynamo actually got into double digits on the shot chart. Before that, it was a low total with Wojciech Szczesny far, far, far from all that busy. (He made four saves in the game, but only the last one was really all that difficult.)
Andrea Pirlo’s squad was never walking a tight rope for long periods of time with the defense stretched and a Dynamo goal only seeming like it was coming. The defense bent, but they were never truly in trouble outside of a couple of brief moments.
Or, to steal a line from our buddy Chuks, Juventus managed the hell out of that game. And they’re heading back to Turin with three points because of it. That was solid, and I’ll take that kind of performance more often than not if the result is going to be what we saw in Ukraine.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Ah, those orange jerseys.
- Ugh, Giorgio Chiellini is injured again and it makes me sad. You knew it was coming, you try to prepare yourself for it, but even when the injury comes you can’t help but be upset by it.
- And then they had to pan to Chiellini on the bench after he got injured and goddammit did he look so sad and goddammit did that cause me to feel so sad again.
- That said, Merih Demiral, that was a good appearance when he might not have been expecting to play any kind of substantial minutes. I mean, all he did off the bench was lead Juventus in interceptions and clearances. I think that’ll do just fine.
- I can’t wait for Demiral and Matthijs de Ligt to get some serious run alongside one another in a few weeks. It’s gonna be so much fun to see those two young dudes crush opposing strikers. Should be lots of fun, folks.
- Federico Chiesa’s two starts have come as a right wingback and now as a left winger back or winger depending on how you interpreted Pirlo’s formation Tuesday night. We knew he had some versatility in his game, but I’m not sure even the most ambitious of thinkers would have guessed that Chiesa would have already played on both wings all of about a week into his Juventus career.
- Dejan Kulusevski has to be one of the most one skilled yet extremely casual about it players I’ve seen wear a Juventus jersey. He’s 20 years old, he oozes a whole lot of swagger and he just has so many tricks and flicks that he doesn’t even make a big deal about at all. Watching this kid grow up at Juve is gonna be fun as hell.
- Paulo Dybala got to play. I guess the Italian press has nothing to talk about now. (I’m sure they’ll try to find something out of Dybala coming off the bench again. It’s what they do.)
- Credit where credit is due: Leonardo Bonucci was absolutely nails after Chiellini went off injured. Juventus needed him to step up and lead the defense, and that’s what he did.
- You really notice that Arthur is all of about 5-foot-6 when he’s playing next to Adrien Rabiot.
- There was a point in the first half where Juan Cuadrado sent in a cross and it didn’t even make it past the first couple of defenders. It was that bad, and I was left to think about just how frustrating he can be with his crossing. Then he spins in that kind of cross to Morata and everything is forgiven. Good work, Johnny Square.
- I know this team is a work in progress and Pirlo is the first one to tell you that, but if this team is able to cut down on the self-inflicted mistakes and the stupid turnovers on short passes that go right to the other team, it would make things so much better in a hurry.
- That’s a good win. I’ll take it. Now don’t screw up against Hellas Verona this weekend, guys.