Not a minute. Not 30 seconds. Literal seconds away from the final whistle. That’s all Juventus needed to hold off a Lazio team that has had some serious late-game magic already once this season against a team from Turin.
And yet ...
What was on the doorstep of a third straight Juventus win in all competitions was suddenly far from any kind of good vibes that would have come with another three points. Instead of a 1-0 win, a series of monumental errors after a second half full of strong defensive efforts suddenly saw Lazio steal a point and a 1-1 draw right before the final whistle sounded on Felipe Caicedo’s 94th-minute goal to put a serious damper on Sunday’s lunchtime fixture at the Stadio Olimpico.
Up until that point, Juventus had been dealing with Lazio throwing waves of players forward relatively well. Then Paulo Dybala can’t control an outlet pass from Weston McKennie where there was absolutely nobody around him and he had all the time in the world to control the ball first and foremost. Joaquín Correa megged Rodrigo Bentancur and then weaved his way through a couple more Juve defenders. and there it was for Caicedo to do just like he did against Torino in the 97th minute last weekend.
It was a win that time against Torino. It was a draw this time against Torino’s big brother on the other side of town.
There goes the chance to go into the international break on a good note.
Instead, Juventus heads into the international break with a very bad feeling in their guts after blowing a lead about as late as you can. And then there’s the fact that there will be a couple of very important medical exams happening in all likelihood.
You can blame Dybala for not thumping the ball long, and that’s fair. But this is on the team for switching off in what was going to be the final attack of the game for Lazio. They had bent but not broken all game long. And, up until the 94th minute, it had worked relatively well. Lazio had a few chances, but it wasn’t like Wojciech Szczesny was getting peppered right and left by a Lazio side that was shorthanded due to COVID-19 and a couple of injuries.
Hell, just a couple of minutes before Lazio’s game-tying goal Bentancur made about as perfect of a tackle as you can make to completely shut down a potential cross into the box.
But that won’t be remembered. The way Juventus blew this lead will be the big takeaway from this one. Now Juve head into the November international break with more draws than wins, and one of those draws is a 3-0 forfeit that could very well be overturned on appeal.
The impact of this will be felt both in the standings, but also in the minds of many who are still very much in the skeptical side of the things when it comes to the Andrea Pirlo experiment working out. Results like these won’t help one bit — and that’s something we should have never been talking about.
Ten more seconds, man.
Ten freakin’ seconds. That’s it.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Pre-game starting lineup thought No. 1: Well, so much for thinking Weston McKennie was going to start, thus wasting a couple hundred words in the match preview. Thanks a lot for that misdirection, Italian media folks. (It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last.)
- Pre-game starting lineup thought No. 2: “Why is Gianluca Frabotta starting in pretty important game?” you might be asking yourself. That’s because Federico Chiesa, despite making the trip to Rome with the rest of the squad, is dealing with a muscle injury and isn’t even fit enough to make the bench. Good times, these muscle injuries are.
- Pre-game thought No. 3: I have no idea how I am going to pay attention to both the Juventus-Lazio and Juventus Women-Sassuolo games at the same time.
- Seven minutes into both games and I am struggling to pay attention to both games.
- The Juve women ended up beating Sassuolo 4-0 and I would much rather talk about that.
- If you’re Cristiano Ronaldo and your ankle is a 50-50 call in terms of being anything close to 100 percent, do you go out on international duty or hunker down in Turin to make sure your healthy for a big stretch of games after the break?
- Not that it’s on him because it isn’t, but I can’t help but wonder how things would have played out the rest of the way if Ronaldo’s shot that smashed off the right upright had snuck inside the post. Game of inches, man.
- I have absolutely no idea how that cross from Juan Cuadrado got through the Lazio defense and to Ronaldo. It must have had some serious velocity on it.
- And let’s hope that everything is relatively OK when it comes to Alvaro Morata’s health because with the way he’s playing the last thing he needs is for some kind of stupid injury to derail all the good vibes.
- Morata was pretty good even though his goal scoring streak came to an end. And unlike some of the other fixtures where he was doing a lot of his damage in front of goal, he got to show off his wheels against Lazio. It was definitely the kind of game where you would have said he deserved a goal if he actually did score. But, when you aren’t able to record any kind of shot whatsoever, scoring goals becomes rather difficult.
- This was very much the kind of game where Dejan Kulusevski was able to stretch his legs out on the counter and show everybody just how dangerous he can be when he’s got some open space in front of him. It seemed like every single time he had the ball on the counterattack he was doing something dangerous. And it just so happened that some of Juve’s best moments in either half came when Kulusevski was running at Lazio defenders on the counter.
- Take away the forfeit win over Napoli and Juve has gotten 10 points out of six actual league games. That’s ... not great, folks.
- It’s too bad that Benrancur and Adrian Rabiot couldn’t have one more moment of defensive contributions because they really did play well against Lazio. Ten more seconds, man.
- Merih Demiral had 11 clearances. That’s ... Giorgio Chiellini kind of stuff.
- If only Juventus actually had Giorgio Chiellini on the field against Lazio. Injuries are dumb.
- Federico Bernardeschi completed the one pass he attempted. Take that, haters!
- Hey, how about those blue jerseys?
- In conclusion: Serie A lunchtime kickoffs continue to be stupid. I’m going to bed.