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Juventus 0 (1) - AC Milan 0 (1): Initial thoughts and random observations

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Hey, an away goal turns out to be a good thing!

FBL-ITA-CUP-JUVENTUS-AC MILAN-HEALTH-VIRUS Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images

If you were wondering how long it would take for Italian football to get back its on-field controversy, stupid and everything-in-between kind of ways, you didn’t have to wait long. It took all of 15 minutes for there to be a VAR-centric penalty, a couple seconds after seeing Cristiano Ronaldo miss said penalty kick, there was a red card. It was all so ... Italian.

And yet, during this time, Juventus actually looked good. For much of the game anyway.

Weird to say right out of the gate following nearly 3 12 months in between games, right?

Yet, after 90 minutes of play and some weirdness in between, things were just the same as they were when Juventus and Milan were supposed to play this game in March. There were moments of good, maybe just as many moments of not-very-good, but Juve is headed to the Coppa Italia final to face either Napoli or Inter after Friday night’s scoreless draw that allowed the Old Lady to advance on away goals.

Yes, Juventus’ second game back from over three months without a game will be a cup final. And it will just so happen to be against a heated rival no matter the case.

That sounds fun, doesn’t it?

I didn’t know what to expect coming into this game seeing as we’ve never seen a situation like this before in our lifetime. Can you remember a time where there’s over three months between games, a limited amount of training sessions and then your team jumps right into the second leg of a cup semifinal? And I’m not talking about the season ending in May and then Juve rolling onto some random stadium’s field in late July or early August for a preseason friendly.

There were moments — mostly in the first half — where Juventus did look good. I want to give them that. But there were also times where, despite being up a man after Milan’s red card seconds after Ronaldo’s penalty clanged off the post, you could truly tell that this team still needs to get its footing back under it because of such a long layoff. Knee-jerk reactions about how Juve looked over the course of 90 minutes after three months between games wouldn’t really be fair to them because this is a scenario that none of us have seen before. And I would like to hope that, with so many games in such a short period of time, that the fitness levels and everything that comes with it, can return in somewhat quick order.

But in terms of this game, it was a total mixed bag.

And knowing the circumstances with which it comes with, it’s totally understandable.

Juventus didn’t play all that great in the grand scheme of things, and that’s perfectly OK. Sure, call me the ever-faithful optimist, but it’s not like this is the current climate in the world where optimism is just brimming with every step we take during the day.

Maybe the most important thing is that Juventus just played a game. And after three months of waiting and dealing with Italian bureaucracy at its finest, a game amidst a global pandemic was just what the mind — and heart — needed no matter how Juve played.

RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS

  • Pre-game thought No. 1: Of course after spitting out around 450 words in the match preview about Rodrigo Bentancur playing as Juve’s regista, Sarri goes and starts Miralem Pjanic in that spot. Maybe that’s how I should have known that calcio really is back.
  • Pre-game thought No. 2: In case you didn’t see it during the warm-ups, Milan came out with “BLACK LIVES MATTER” front and center on their shirts. Juventus, on the other hand, shoehorned “NO RACISM” onto the bottom — both literally and figuratively — of their pre-game shirts. This is one of the few current-day occasions where I wish Juve were more like Milan.
  • Speaking of Bentancur ... he’s so good.
  • I know I’m 100 percent biased and will always be that way with Bentancur, but he’s just so good.
  • Fun with stats: Who had as many tackles (4) as Bentancur in the first half? Danilo. Freakin’ Danilo, man.
  • There were definitely moments — especially in the second half — where I was basically thinking to myself “Yeah, this team has definitely not played a game in three months.” I guess we can chalk that up to why the overall level of play slipped as the second half went on. They just couldn’t keep up the high pace (and pressing) that were present in the opening 45 minutes. Gotta acknowledge that considering they have, in fact, not played a game in three months.
  • Who knew that one of the players that looked about as off as anybody would be Ronaldo. He’s human.
  • Knowing what we know about which Juventus players dealt with COVID-19 and that Paulo Dybala was only recently given a full and clean bill of health, were you surprised that he played a full 90 minutes? Because I kinda was.
  • Dybala had a handful of scoring chances where you were left thinking that if he hadn’t just had the last three months without a game he would have found the back of the net. This is just something that we’re all gonna have to get used to with so much time in between fixtures.
  • One of the better parts to come out of this game: My growing appreciation for being able to hear some of the reactions to things now that the stadiums are empty and without crowds. If there were 40,000-plus people watching this game — and, yeah, it would have been played in March (or 2021) if that was the case —you wouldn’t have been able to hear the Juventus bench react to something that Milan did wrong. I just wanna believe that Carlo Pinsoglio is the leader of all that because it would be very fitting of somebody with the kind of personality that Carlo Pinsoglio has.
  • Also, because of social distancing on the bench, we got this:
  • It’s onto Rome, I guess. Cool!