We all wanted to see the response. We were all curious to see if Juventus’ struggles from the weekend and an inconsistent domestic season would extend into the European game once again. The struggles of what happened against Benevento (and weekends prior), a team Juventus shouldn’t be struggling against, were very much still pretty fresh in our minds.
For 90 minutes at least, those memories were forgotten.
Juventus recorded a second solid-if-not-unspectacular kind of win against Dynamo Kyiv in the Champions League group stage, this time getting goals from Federico Chiesa, Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata to claim a 3-0 win over the Ukrainian champions in Turin on Wednesday night. Things looked cohesive, there looked like there was a plan and the players were actually executing it and the Juventus that we saw over the weekend when they couldn’t do much of anything right was nowhere to be seen.
It was ... refreshing.
It was ... a pleasant change.
And for all the chatter about how much of a crisis Juventus might actually be in or how worried the club should be about their current situation, this was the kind of response to everything that you wanted to see. It wasn’t a team pressing or one forcing to do something right for a change. This was just a solid all-around performance where the attacking stars got their goals, the midfield was not an issue and the defense bent a few times but never broke and forced Wojciech Szczesny to pick the ball out of his net.
Andrea Pirlo called this the “right performance” from his team in the post-match press conference, and that seems pretty much right on the money. This wasn’t high-flying Juventus where Ronaldo was running absolutely wild on the opposing defense and putting the team on his back. (Although, for all the amazing goals he’s scored, it’s pretty ironic that his 750th career goal was a relatively simple tap-in from a couple of feet out.) This was just a solid Juventus performance from top to bottom — you know, the kind of showing that they probably could use a whole lot more of knowing they still have six games to go before the short holiday break arrives.
Things aren’t going to go from bad to really good with the snap of Pirlo’s fingers. Hell, they may never get there for all we know simply because at its best this is still a flawed squad. But, for one day at least, this was a good showing, a showing that Juventus can look back on in the next couple of days and point at as something they want to replicate.
Juventus don’t need to be hitting on all cylinders right now.
They just need to show progress. And this, hopefully, is a good first step to finishing the 2020 calendar year — one that has been like no other we have ever seen — on a positive note rather than leaving us feeling the way we felt after the Benevento draw over the weekend.
Maybe this will prove to be the get right game that Juve needed.
At the very least, I hope it’s not just a respite from what we saw against Benevento.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Outside of a Leonardo Bonucci PK that could have been, Stephanie Frappart called about as clean and a drama-free game as Juve’s had all season long. If you want to make a good first impression on the Champions League level, that’s exactly how you do it. (Not to say she wasn’t a known commodity before, obviously. She’s really good!)
- If Wojciech Szczesny’s sliding kick save in the first half taught us anything it is that Matthijs de Ligt is, in fact, human and can actually misread the flight of a cross. It happens, and it felt like that was one of the few things he hasn’t done right since returning from injury.
- Also, in case you were wondering about de Ligt’s presence in the air, he’s now willing to take on both the opposing team as well as any of his teammates for a header:
- I TOLD Y’ALL TO PAY ATTENTION TO FEDERICO CHIESA AND HE REPAID ME WELL. THANK YOU.
- I did not know that Federico Chiesa was capable of that kind of headed goal where he’s able to get that much behind a goal that is essentially going in the opposite direction of which he is running.
- That cross from Alex Sandro on Chiesa’s goal was something that gave me flashbacks to the early days of him wearing a Juventus jersey. He spun it around the man marking him and put it on a silver platter for Chiesa to head home. That’s vintage Sandro, and if him playing wingback can help him get back to being the Sandro of his first couple of years with Juventus, then I’m all for it, man.
- Szczesny made four saves in this game, and three of them were three of the best he’s made all season. He hasn’t been all that busy since de Ligt returned to the lineup, but Tek definitely was a guy who was needed to keep Dynamo off the scoreboard Wednesday night — and he provided just that.
- This season has not been good from an individual standpoint for Rodrigo Bentancur. It hasn’t, and just when you think he might get things going, he goes out and struggles again. And even though the bar is relatively low as compared to 12 months ago, this was EASILY one of his best games of the 2020-21 season. Easily. This was the Bentancur that I’m used to seeing. He was covering so much ground and also doing a solid job of connecting the lines. He completed over 94 percent of his passes — almost 98 percent in the first half, too! — and was one of four Juve players to record three key passes in the game, according to WhoScored. With Arthur still struggling to find some consistency, Bentancur has a chance to make something out of this and potentially get more playing time out of it.
- Bentancur’s midfield partner, Weston McKennie, played a pretty solid game as well. You know what you’re going to get from the young Texan, and this was really a game — and, honestly, situation from a team standpoint — where those characteristics were needed. He doesn’t lack for energy and effort, and it paid dividends against Dynamo Kyiv. Also helps when he’s one of those guys who’s also recording a team-best number of key passes.
- This was one of Alvaro Morata’s more subdued games of the season. And then he pops up and gets himself a nice goal to put the game completely out of reach. That pulls him even with Erling Haaland at the top of the Champions League scoring list for the season. Gotta get ‘em how you get ‘em, right?
- A 3-0 Juventus win in Europe and it wasn’t too stressful at all? You love to see it.
- Barcelona also recorded a 3-0 win over Ferancvaros on Wednesday night, so actually finishing atop of Group G is going to need a Herculean effort next week in Spain. But, at the very least, Juventus played well when there was a whole lot of focus on them simply because of what has happened the last few games. Keep it going now.