So many times over the last two decades we’ve seen a Gianluigi Buffon save in the final minutes of a game end up being the exclamation point to a really good win. There have been instances during this current Scudetto run where it might be one of the few things that Buffon actually does, with so much of the game highlighted by Juve’s dominance.
This time around, it was a Buffon save that served as the moment in the game that unofficially kicked Juventus into gear.
From the moments after Buffon’s first big save of the game Saturday night and much of the remaining time on the game clock, Juventus put forward one of its best showings of the 2020-21 season. With a brace from Cristiano Ronaldo and Dejan Kulusevski opening the scoring against his former side leading the way after the big Buffon save, Juventus rolled their way to a 4-0 win over Parma at the Tardini and did what they haven’t done against lower-table teams all that much this season.
You know, beat them with authority.
Sure, Buffon had to make a couple of nice saves throughout the final hour or so of the game after that stunning initial stop, but this was about as dominant of a Juve performance as we’ve seen in weeks, if not longer than that. So much of Juventus’ struggles this season has come against teams who sat back and tried to absorb pressure. But in this game, Juve’s up-tempo approach and high press worked out as well as it possibly could have — especially in the first half as they built their lead through Kulusevski and Ronaldo.
But you see the way that the entire team was playing and how little Parma was able to do outside of the saves Buffon had and it was a refreshing showing compared to what we’ve seen from teams of Parma’s ilk this season. Juventus didn’t struggle to create scoring chances. Rather, it seemed like they only got more and more comfortable after Kulusevski’s opener. You saw the quick passing, the movement, chances being created through the middle and from out on the wings.
Honestly, it was a showing that was one of Juve’s when it was a 2-0 scoreline ... and it finished 4-0. (And, honestly, it could have been much, much worse for Parma than just a 4-0 loss at their home stadium.)
Double the goals, double the fun, I guess.
The approach that Andrea Pirlo put forward in this game was on the money. The execution of it was just as good to see. Parma came into this game on the back of three straight draws, but their overall form wasn’t exactly miles ahead of where they were the first couple of months in the season. That means, with things getting better, they still were the kind of team that Juventus should beat and needed to beat to avoid dropping points once again.
They went out and did just that.
And knowing that this was the ninth game in the run of 10 games in 30 days, seeing Juventus come out clicking and firing on all cylinders rather than being fatigued and not doing all that much was quite the pleasant surprise.
Not a bad way to start the weekend, if you ask me.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Dejan Kulusevski’s left foot is good.
- Cristiano Ronaldo flying through the air is good, too.
- MATTHIJS DE LIGT COMPLETED HOW MANY PASSES IN THE FIRST HALF?!
- Our big Dutch baby boy finish with 125 passes in this game. That’s just wild.
- The only thing that was more outrageous was the minute or so that de Ligt was playing out on the wing and trying to keep an attack going. And by “outrageous” I mean it was awesone as hell and I loved every second of it.
- Seriously, though, how good has de Ligt been since he came back from injury? (You can answer that with as many glowing and wonderful words as you want.) The wild thing is that he missed the first 10 games of the season, now he’s just finished playing his ninth straight game since coming back. My man is strong — and well conditioned.
- Somebody isolate Buffon yelling “DANIIIIIIIIIIIII” at Danilo so I can make it my ringtone.
- Simply because of who he is, you knew Ronaldo was going to get things turned in the right direction sooner rather than later. He’s had these small lulls in form a few times during his career at Juventus, and each time he’s come out of it with what seems like the snap of his fingers. He announced it this time with one of those classic headers where he just floats in the air. (Although this wasn’t the same kind of hang time as the Sampdoria one last season.) Maybe more importantly, he was just involved in so much and his goals were the topper to a really strong performance. Maybe in weeks past his goals have masked an off game. Not this time.
- With all that being said, there might not have been any Juventus player outside of Ronaldo who played as well as Rodrigo Bentancur. I feel safe in saying this was his best game of the 2020-21 season, and based on how his season has been so far it was really good to see. The last couple of weeks have been a gradual improvement, but this was him really making his presence be known from opening whistle to final whistle. He led the team in tackles. He led the team in key passes. His pass completion percentage was 100% in the first half. He was all over the place defensively. The only thing he didn’t do well was finish the pair of scoring chances he had. Other than that, it was a great game for my son and I am very proud of him.
- The Bentancur-Weston McKennie midfield tandem brings so much damn energy to the team. They play like they did against Parma and this team is gonna be looking pretty damn solid.
- That little scoop pass McKennie played that nearly resulted in a goal in the first half was pretty.
- Alvaro Morata’s assist on Ronaldo’s first goal was pretty.
- Federico Bernardeschi got an assist on Morata’s goal. No, seriously! That happened!
- This was the kind of game where you just wish Aaron Ramsey was able to contribute like this on a consistent basis. But, as we know, that is just so tough to come by these days.
- Buffon finished with four saves and all of them were pretty damn good. I know we keep saying it, but it’s so impressive that somebody his age is able to stay so sharp even though he’s not playing on a regular basis. I guess if there’s one person who can prove logic wrong and avoid any kind of rustiness, it’s San Gigi. The guy has done just about everything else.
- Juventus is now in second place, a point behind Milan with the rest of the schedule to be played out tomorrow. Regardless of how the two Milan teams do, Juve’s looking to be in a good spot in the table heading into the final game of this brutal stretch before the holiday break. Now, if they can play like this against Fiorentina on Tuesday and maybe get a little help from some friends on top of it midweek, then it will be a nice early Christmas gift for all of us.