If getting three points was the main goal Friday night, then hooray for that. But if you wanted Juventus to look good and dominant — you know, while there was actually 11 players on the field for each team — then that proved to be a little too much to ask.
But, following the recipe that we saw against Bologna, Juventus did indeed take advantage of the opportunity that was provided to them after what happened in Bergamo 48 hours earlier.
Just like in its first win following Serie A’s suspension of play, Juventus got a spectacular goal from open play off the left foot of Paulo Dybala and a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty to lead the way, this time during a 4-0 win over Lecce at Allianz Stadium. The Juventus win, combined with Lazio’s roller coaster of a loss to Atalanta on Wednesday night, means that the eight-time Italian champions are now seven points clear and could well have the chance to make it more if Simone Inzaghi’s side don’t get back on track over the weekend against Fiorentina.
Yet, the overall theme of this wasn’t how Juve started brightly and then kinda-sorta (or a lotta bit) faded as time went on. No, it was actually to the contrary — mainly because Lecce were more than just a formidable foe for the first 30 minutes. Then, as pretty much everybody could have predicted, after Lecce got a player sent off on a straight red, the whole vibe of the game — as well as who dominated possession — changed in Juventus’ favor.
And, judging by the final score, you can figure out how things went for Lecce.
I guess the good in all of this is the fact that Juventus didn’t necessarily put it into cruise control and coast to a 1-0 win after Dybala’s second straight game with a left-footed bender. And, knowing that the heat of the early Italian summer has arrived and that this is basically the same starting lineup from the first three games out of the restart, you couldn’t have really blamed them if they wanted to just kinda cruise their way to a second straight Serie A win.
Instead, Juventus did what it couldn’t do in the first 45 minutes of play — score a goal.
Was it against a Lecce side down to 10 men? Yes.
Was it against a 10-man Lecce side that looked absolutely gassed? Yes, that, too.
But to see Juventus actually do some things right, score a few goals, look like they’re enjoying themselves out there and get three points as a result of all of that ... yeah, I’ll take that every day of the week and twice on Sunday. We haven’t been able to say that — regardless of the context of it — much the last few months (I wonder why) or for much of the season, for that matter.
Knowing what lies ahead for Juventus in July, I’m getting closer and closer to the “Just get all the damn points possible” line of thinking. Not that I tend to stray away from that regardless of the way it’s framed, but especially now and knowing that this team is still just a couple of weeks into game action again, as long as they’re winning, I’ll take it.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Cristiano Ronaldo had a pair of assists to go with his 23rd league goal — and 10th penalty kick — of the season, but he could have (and probably should have) had even more. You don’t see Ronaldo bottle wide-open headers very often, but he did it twice against Lecce. The first one was especially tough to watch knowing how much Juve were scuffling up until that point and the fact that if it was anywhere on target it would have been a goal. But hey, I’m happy to say that those chances didn’t come back to bite Juve in the backside. Hooray.
- Rodrio Bentancur celebrated his 23rd birthday a couple of days ago. And I am very happy to say that my large adult son’s performance on Friday night was much better than his last few games. I was also happy to see that he didn’t have to play another full 90, and that Maurizio Sarri was able to get a couple of other key players a rest knowing that the opportunities for squad rotation are few and far between right now. Good work, son, and happy birthday again.
- Matthijs de Ligt wasn’t his usual rock-solid self in the opening minutes of the game. He just looked a little off as compared to previous games. Luckily, that changed. And he got a goal. I like when de Ligt gets goals to go along with his usually stout defending. (That long shot, too, that was kinda fun.)
- Good for Gonzalo Higuain. He deserves that goal.
- And the sooner that Higuain can get back to full match fitness, the sooner Sarri can start rotating some things up front so that he doesn’t run Ronaldo and Dybala into the ground.
- Simone Muratore! Go Team Bricklayer!
- Miralem Pjanic had seven — SEVEN! — key passes against Lecce. That’ll do just fine.
- Douglas Costa had five — FIVE! — key passes against Lecce. He played less than 40 minutes.
- Let’s be honest, based on how the second half went, this could have been a lot worse for Lecce than just a 4-0 loss. Hell, if Juventus scored a couple of its wide-open headers in the first half (from Ronaldo and Leo Bonucci), it definitely would have been worse than 4-0.
- My internet is pissing me off right now, so I’m just going to end it there. Good night, folks.