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Manu’s Grab Bag: Torino è bianconera

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A rough performance, but somehow Juventus pull off the win against Torino.

Weston McKennie (R) of Juventus FC celebrates after scoring... Photo by Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images

Nothing is ever easy with this team.

After the 90 minutes were over, Juventus found themselves with a much-needed win and three points after beating cross-city rivals Torino 2-1 on Saturday night. This in and of itself isn’t surprising as the Derby della Mole has been fairly one-sided as of late for the Bianconeri.

However, it was in the actual development of the game that really made you wonder at times, “Wait, what team is supposed to be battling relegation right now?”

Juventus kept on their roller coaster of a season by having one of their most listless, sleep-walking, all-around terrible performances for the majority of this game. Only barely getting the win after coming alive in the last 20 minutes or so.

In terms of the performance, it was much more like the second half against Benevento than easily beating Dynamo Kyiv, let’s put it like that.

Nevertheless, Juve got the win and pending on the AC Milan scoreline on Sunday remain within striking distance of first place in the league. I’d rather have a crappy win than a crappy draw, so chalk the Saturday derby as a positive development, sort of.

Let’s cook.

MVP: Juan Cuadrado

The Square Man was back with his most Juan Cuadrado game ever.

Like the majority of the team, he was not great, by any stretch of the imagination. But when it counted most he delivered two perfect assists to bail the team out. You have to admire the resiliency as he had been fairly terrible with his crosses until, well, he wasn’t.

Cuads also got a goal disallowed on VAR review through no real fault of his own. And what a goal that would have been, as he unleashed a laser from outside of the box that was unstoppable, offside or not.

Runner Up: Weston McKennie – Not only for his goal to even the game, but his pace and aggressiveness was immediately felt on the pitch by a team that was straight up sleepwalking.

Season Leader: Alvaro Morata (6 Points)

Loser: Juventus Attack

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Paulo Dybala and Cristiano Ronaldo are good players.

I don’t think that’s ruffling any feathers out here, but for two guys who are as talented as they are, they couldn’t have looked flatter than they did on Saturday.

Facing a team currently sitting in the relegation zone, the multimillion-euro duo could muster very little for the entire game. Misplaced passes, dribbles that led to nowhere and just a lack of creativity was the constant for the men supposed to be leading the frontline for Juve.

Dybala had a couple good passes and a few moments of intensity so he was slightly better, but not by much. Overall, this was an extremely disappointing showing by the two biggest names on the team sheet.

Winner: Wojciech Szczesny

Could do very little on the goal Torino scored — that was more due to bad defending than anything else — and had overall little to do on the second half.

I’m mostly giving him a shoutout for his save in the first half against former Juve folk hero Simone Zaza. That’s as clear of a 1-on-1 chance against a pretty competent striker that he denied perfectly, if he doesn’t make that save we are talking about a completely different game and most likely a very different outcome for Juve.

Woj is slowly but surely solidifying himself as a top keeper in Europe. And he might not get the reflectors other guys do, but he is as good as they come.

The New Abnormal

Can we get some sort of consistency here, fellows?

I can’t believe that Dynamo Kyiv is a significantly worse team than Torino — or Benevento for that matter — in fact I don’t believe that. In fact, Dynamo is probably better than those two teams! But, for whatever reason, while Juve throttled Dynamo midweek, they struggle against worse teams in back to back games.

As we mentioned on the latest episode of The Old Lady Speaks, while there are many significant factors for why this team — and many teams throughout European top leagues — is failing to find any sort of consistency, the dips in form we are seeing for the team on a game to game basis are legitimately baffling.

It’s still too early to make any sort of ultimate takes — I mean they are through the round of 16 in Champions League play, that’s not nothing — but definitely something that you would hope to see less and less as the year moves forward.

Yet, another HI5story lesson

The more I think about it, the more I feel this team has so much in common with that 2015/16 squad. I lined out the case in more detail in this piece, so I won’t relitigate the case, but if you we follow through the analogy this was only more proof of the similarities.

Famously after sitting in 12th place coming into Matchday 11, Juventus struggled, but in the end beat Torino in a last-minute goal by Juan Cuadrado and a final score line of 2-1.

This time they are not quite sitting in 12th place, but they are not at their usual spot top of the table, either. They once again struggled against Torino — not in Matchday 11, but in Matchday 10 — but ended up winning 2-1 thanks to late goals in which Juan Cuadrado was prominently involved.

In that 2015 season, that Torino win sparked their rally that ended up with the Bianconeri winning their fifth straight title. I swear if after this, the team comes out guns blazing, beats FC Barcelona and goes on a roll I will never shut up about it.

Parting Shot of the Week

A win is a win is a win.

As it stands Juventus now stand fourth on the league table, tied with Napoli on points, within one of Inter and pending on Milan’s result could be either three or six away from the lead.

That’s not great, but it’s also far from catastrophic. They badly needed this one, though.

On deck, they have a visit to Camp Nou in Barcelona where they will face a team that just lost to *checks notes* Cadiz?

However, they need to win by three goals or more to go top of the group, something that is probably not happening with the form this team is currently on. Still, I’m constantly wrong, so who knows?

All I hope is that a big Turin Derby win in the dying minutes finally gets the momentum rolling and we see a decent display on Tuesday. I wouldn’t bet on it necessarily, but it would be nice.

See you Tuesday.