This freakin’ team, man.
At some point we might be able to figure them out. This night, this completely unpredictable and incredibly wonderful night, will not be the one where we actually know what Juventus is all about simply because this kind of result didn’t exactly seem possible with the way they’ve been playing for much of this season.
And yet, there Juventus were, getting two goals from the Champions League’s best goal scorer and a Goal of the Season candidate from their American boy, recording the kind of win everybody knew they needed but weren’t close to being sure that they could secure. But, they did just that. They needed to win by at least two goals and score three times, and that’s exactly what happened. Two penalty kicks from Crsitiano Ronaldo and Weston McKennnie’s picture perfect volley allowed Juventus to beat Barcelona 3-0 at the Camp Nou on Tuesday night to leapfrog the Spanish giants in Group G on the final day of the group stage for both teams.
That’s not something I expected to type two hours after kickoff in Barcelona.
Seeing as both teams entered this game in complete flux and the Champions League really only serving as Barca’s lone saving grace so far this season, a Juventus win wasn’t out of the realm of possibilities. Even though Andrea Pirlo’s squad wasn’t playing anywhere close to positive form through the first 2 1⁄2 months of the season, Barcelona’s struggles and the return of Ronaldo as compared to the first time these two teams played could, theoretically, equated to Juventus’ chances of winning improving.
But ... THIS?
A 3-0 win when you needed a 3-0 win to flip the script in the group?
That’s the rabbit out of their hat that many of us didn’t expect.
It wasn’t the perfect game despite the scoreline. We saw Gigi Buffon, being given the chance by Pirlo to play on the kind of stage that Juve’s first-year manager said he deserved, called into action plenty of times and up to the task every single time. We saw Barcelona finish with more than double the amount of shots that Juventus attempted. We saw the possession stats swing drastically in Barcelona’s favor after Juventus went ahead 2-0.
But, like Pirlo said in his pre-match press conference 24 hours earlier, this is going to be a game where Juventus will have to suffer the right way. And, boy, did they ever.
Say what you want about this Barcelona squad — and there’s A LOT wrong with it right now — but this is the kind of signature win that Juve and Pirlo himself needed desperately. With the way recent performances have been going — need to look no further than the Turin derby this past weekend — rolling into the Camp Nou and beating Barcelona 3-0 didn’t seem possible.
Yet, here we are.
This team, man. This freakin’ team. The more they frustrate you one weekend, the more they can pull off something like this the next game, I guess. I didn’t think this kind of result was possible, but I am totally OK with being proven wrong. Go ahead and do it again, guys. I’m here for it.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- HUNTER TOLD Y’ALL ABOUT WESTON McKENNIE, DAMMIT.
- No, seriously, go back and watch McKennie absolutely hounding dudes defensively in the final minutes of regular time and you can’t help but love the guy. There are obviously more skilled players at Juventus, but that is the kind of attitude and work rate this Juventus squad needs right now. He deserves the praise that is coming his way after this game because he’s starting to really show why he belongs at this club.
- Juan Cuadrado continues to rack up assists at a crazy rate and it’s fun to have Juve fullbacks/wingbacks who are currently effective at crossing the ball. Let this last for a long time.
- Buffon is going to be 43 years old next month and he just put forth one of his best games in years. Pretty nice luxury to have the greatest goalkeeper to ever play the game as your backup to Wojciech Szczesny. I guess we don’t need to doubt whether Buffon’s 100 percent healthy or not after that muscle injury of his.
- Also, here is a funny picture that involves Gigi Buffon:
- Regarding the above picture, we should go to VAR to review this. Rigore?
- Ronaldo was the only Juve player who attempted more than one shot in this game. And yet Juventus won 3-0. Amazing.
- There was a point late in the second half — I think there was about 10 minutes to go — and Lionel Messi had just shook Leonardo Bonucci out of his boots and he was virtually clear on goal. Then Ronaldo, out of nowhere, is there to make the tackle in the box. RONALDO. TACKLE IN THE BOX. Seriously. The legacy games bring out something different.
- Alex Sandro had: four tackles, five interceptions and two clearances. That’ll do.
- This also was a game where the touches weren’t overly skewed in Cuadrado’s favor. Hell, Sandro had almost 20 more touches than Cuadrado did. I feel like that semblance of balance where they’re not just going down the right wing over and over and over again will be effective as Sandro gets more minutes in his legs. He’s looking pretty good through his first few games back as a wingback.
- What a difference it makes when Aaron Ramsey is up for a game like this as compared to his last couple of appearances. He was important on both ends of the equation in this game, and it was pretty damn important as Juventus built their first-half lead and had Barcelona absolutely shook.
- As the second half went on, I really did think that this would be the kind of game where Dejan Kulusevski would come on around the 60th minute and then try to just hammer Barcelona on the counterattack because that’s what he does best. And yet, at the final whistle, Kulusevski was an unused sub and I am left here to say this is why I am sitting here and not calling the shots along with Andrea Pirlo.
- The view from an old Barca friend of mine:
Can you imagine if we were playing against an actual team in good form? Goodness.— Barça News and Negativity (@cynicule) December 8, 2020
- Seriously, if you were able to comprehend the kind of vibe I was giving off in the match preview, then you would be safe in saying I didn’t think Juventus could pull off this kind of result. I was thinking more of a grind-it-out 1-0 or 2-1 win was more of a realistic vision of what I had if Juve were to come out victorious. But a 3-0 win and do it after making things look so easy in the first half? Well, hot damn, people. That’s impressive.
- In a completely unpredictable season, maybe it’s no surprise that Juventus did this when we weren’t expecting it to happen.
- As we’ve said after every one of Juve’s better performances so far this season, now the key is consistency. Expecting this kind of performance every time would be too much, but playing well for a couple of weeks heading into the Christmas break would be a pretty welcome sight after seeing what we’ve seen for the first couple of months of the season.
- In conclusion: That was wonderful!