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Juventus 1 - Hellas Verona 1: Initial reaction and random observations

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Well, that was frustrating as all hell.

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-JUVENTUS-VERONA Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images

The last three times Juventus has faced Serie A opposition, they have not won. They have not lost, but they haven’t won. And in each of those games, each with their own issues and respective problems, Juventus hasn’t played anything close to “solid” as a team, which is obviously why we’ve seen them drop points and now rack up more draws than they have wins through the first five games of the 2020-21 season.

It didn’t help things that Juve was unlucky as hell — again.

Just like we saw last weekend, Alvaro Morata saw a potential go-ahead goal called off because VAR is basically proving to be the devil at this point just like it was last weekend against Crotone. Juventus also hit the bar not once but twice during the course of Sunday night’s 1-1 draw against Hellas Verona that also saw the Ex Effect taken to extreme measures when former preseason superstar Andrea Favilli put the visitors in front right after coming on and then right before coming off due to injury.

It was a frustrating night just as was the trip to Crotone was.

It was the kind of performance overall that was far from anything good, anything impressive and really not exactly something that fills you with a whole lot of confidence entering the biggest game of the season to date Wednesday night against Barcelona.

And then you see Leonardo Bonucci limp off injured — and say what you want about him, but he’s an important player — and realize that Juve now has all of one healthy central defender. (Throw in a second if you consider Danilo a center back at this point.)

Juve had nearly three times as many shots as Hellas Verona — hell, Paulo Dybala outshot the visitors all on his own — yet we are sitting here, again, shaking our heads after the boys clad in pink looked well below the quality they have on the roster. You knew EXACTLY what Hellas were going to try and do after Favilli’s goal and yet the only saving grace was that Dejan Kulusevski and the magical left foot of his was able to salvage a point from a game that Juve really should never be in position to lose — especially at home.

Yet, I can’t stop thinking about Morata’s goal that was snatched away from VAR.

And Juan Cuadrado’s shot that went off the crossbar in the first half. And Dybala’s deflected shot that went off the crossbar in the second half.

I can’t help but notice how these games early in the season are turning on one or two moments. Sure, you can say that about every season, I guess, but it’s dominated so much of the in-game conversation so far. Juventus hasn’t played all that well, obviously, but if VAR isn’t the fickle, fickle thing that it is, Morata has two goals and the Hellas Verona and Crotone draws are probably not draws. If Cuadrado or Dybala doesn’t hit the post, Juve’s got another goal in their back pocket Sunday night and the overall feeling about how things are going under Pirlo might be a little bit better as compared to the alternative.

It’s a lot of “What if,” but I can’t help it.

I’d rather think about what could have been rather than the reality. It’s much more of a happy place as compared to remembering that Juve’s dropped six points over the last three games that they’ve actually taken the field.

I mean, aren’t you a little tired of realizing that Juve’s last Serie A win was a 3-0 forfeit and that their last “actual” win was in the season opener over a month ago?

I would be.

RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS

  • Based on this game: Matteo Lovato > Demi Lovato.
  • Alvaro Morata has three goals in his last three games in all competitions.
  • Alvaro Morata has seen two goals called off due to VAR in his last three games in all competitons.
  • Juventus goals in their last two Serie A games: 2
  • Juventus shots that have hit off the crossbar/post in their last two Serie A games: 3
  • Federico Bernardeschi ... ugh. I love ya, my man, but this ain’t working out.
  • Gianluca Frabotta did more than Bernardeschi did in a fraction of the time on the field.
  • Dejan Kulusevski had 19 touches in 56 minutes against Dynamo Kyiv. Against Hellas Verona on Sunday night, Kulusevski had 33 touches in a half hour of work off the bench. He’s a player who has already proved he can make a big impact no matter how little he sees of the ball (like he did against Dynamo), but the more Kulu the better. He’s that damn good already. That left foot is special, and he’s got a confidence about him that is cold blooded.
  • So, yeah, it’s safe to say that Kulusevski-for-Bernardeschi change should have come earlier.
  • There were so many points in the first half where Juve just needed one more successful pass and they would have been in on goal. It was like the same kind of “close but no cigar” kind of reaction to a Juventus attack kept ringing in my head. This stupid game.
  • More of Arthur, please.
  • Paulo Dybala’s return to the starting lineup was pretty meh overall. He had his moments, and it looked like he was feeling pretty lively early on. But, overall, he didn’t have the biggest of impacts on this game outside of the shot that hit off the crossbar. (Of course, if that goal goes in, we’re talking a lot more about Dybala in this thread.) His WhoScored rating is one of Juve’s best, but I have a feeling that’s due to how many shots he had total to go along with the three key passes rather than how he played overall. We’ll see how he can bounce back against Barcelona because we know Juventus will need him dearly.
  • VAR is stupid.
  • Seriously, if you’re going to take a goal away for that minuscule of a decision, what’s the point?
  • Pirlo had the interesting twist of, as he anticipated Hellas Verona would be pressing early on, pushing Bonucci into more a midfield role to provide an extra option during the build-up. That’s a new take on things that we haven’t really seen before.
  • But seriously, what the hell is Pirlo going to do if Bonucci can’t go against Barcelona?
  • In conclusion, injuries are stupid and they should be banned from this game for the rest of time. You can’t come back soon enough, Matty de Ligt. We miss you.