Sometimes, I like to start these post-game threads with something witty or of that ilk.
Not this time, though. This time, I will let somebody else do the talking. He is probably a familiar name to many around here. He’s done a few things in a Juve jersey and we’ve written a few things about him on this very spot on the internet over the years.
Tell ‘em, Claudio.
With Juventus’ 2-1 win over Lazio on Monday night, a ninth straight Scudetto is very much loading as Mr. Marchisio is here to tell all of you. Thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo hitting both the 30-goal mark in the 2019-20 season and 50 in his short Serie A career with his brace and an inspired Paulo Dybala performance, Juventus stretched the lead atop the league table to eight points over Inter Milan with four games to go.
Just four points are needed from those next four fixtures to clinch Scudetto No. 38. (It could also be a little earlier than this weekend if Inter Milan end up dropping points in their next game, so there’s that, too.)
Sure, it was a little nervy at the end. As we know, nothing is exactly easy for this squad this season even when things look like they might be heading in the right direction. And Juventus were certainly in complete control of this game up until Leonardo Bonucci’s latest blunder that led to a penalty kick allowed Ciro Immobile to hit from the spot and cut Juve’s lead in half with less than 10 minutes to go. But before that, Lazio had exactly one more shot on goal than I did against Juventus. That’s it. That’s how in control Juve were.
Knowing how Juventus’ last couple of games have gone, it was very much a pleasant change. A change for the better, and hopefully something we see a little more of these last couple of weeks of the season.
Is that possible? Sure, I guess so.
But the big thing was that a lot of the issues that Juventus did have as they dropped points to Milan, Atalanta and Sassuolo over the last two weeks weren’t really present like they had been. Juve weren’t chasing the game or having to play catch-up on the scoreboard. This wasn’t a team struggling to do much right with the little bit that they had the ball or just looked like a team that was out of ideas in the final third of the field.
Things looked, dare I say ... good?
It is a one-game sample and those can always get us in trouble.
But, in this one-game sample, it was a whole lot better than what we’ve seen this Juventus team do against Lazio earlier this season. Maybe it would have been different if it was actually a full-strength Lazio as compared to the one where Simone Inzaghi had a patchwork kind of lineup to work with and nobody to really turn to off the bench — Francesco Acertbi was playing as a left wingback in the second half! — but that’s not exactly something Juventus can control.
Business was taken care of and the only time I was mad at Juventus was when Bonucci did something stupid. That’s very much an improvement over the last couple of weeks, so I’ll take it.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Pre-game thought No. 1: Is there any truth to the rumor that these guys are also available to give all of us some advice on some stocks? (Hopefully it’s not Webistics...)
- Pre-game thought No. 2: AARON RAMSEY?! AARON RAMSEY!
- This is also amusing.
- Wojciech Szczesny had to make only one legitimate save the entire game. It was a damn good one. I am happy that Tek is Juve’s starting goalkeeper, and so should you.
- At the first-half cooling break, Rodrigo Bentancur had a pass completion percentage hovering around 73 percent. When the final whistle sound, Bentancur’s pass completion was at 88 percent. I think that’ll do just fine.
- It was also good to see Bentancur take Sergej Milinkovic-Savic out of this game from start to finish. That’s what good players do — neutralize the other team’s best player, and do it for 90 minutes.
- Even though he wasn’t even in the original starting lineup, Paulo Dybala finished with an assist, seven key passes and was an absolute stud in a game where Juventus needed him to be just that. This season’s version of Dybala has been a lot more fun to watch than last year. Dybala very much deserved a goal Monday night, but couldn’t put away a couple of his chances. Still, this was as good of a game we’ve seen from Dybala during a season in which he’s had A LOT of good games. I look forward to more good games because there are few things more enjoyable as in-form Dybala is.
- Good to see that the player I spotlighted in the match preview actually had a good game. Thank you for making me look good, Johnny Cuadrado. Always appreciated.
- Not too long ago, Adrien Rabiot looked like a complete flop and destined to head somewhere else during the summer transfer window because there just didn’t look like there was much of a fit here in Turin. But, as Rabiot continues to get more consistent playing time and he turns in consistent performances that are actually good, that notion that he’s heading elsewhere in a few months has seemingly vanished. Hell, maybe it still happens, who really knows. But with the way Rabiot is playing right now, this is the player Juventus hoped they were getting when he arrived from Paris Saint-Germain last summer.
- There was a moment late in the second half when Lazio were trying to get a tying goal where Matthijs de Ligt went up for a header against an equally large human in Milinkovic-Savic and I am very happy to say that collision did not have me worrying about the Big Dutch Baby Boy’s shoulder like a lot of other challenges have the last few games.
- I guess we got our answer as to how close Merih Demiral might be to playing in a game where, when Juventus needed a moment of calm and steadiness, Maurizio Sarri turned to Daniele Rugani to try and provide all of that.
- In case you didn’t notice, there was a very high-pitched sound coming from the sidelines as the second half went on Monday night. That, my friends, was Carlo Pinsoglio, Juve’s No. 3 goalkeeper supremo. He makes me laugh, and he must be a joy to be around in the locker room on a regular basis.
- Just in case you’re wondering what the Italian summer is like and what these players are constantly dealing with as they play out the final games of this packed two-month schedule of the restart: There are journalist at Allianz Stadium doing their job right now. It’s just after midnight in Turin as I type this out, It is currently 26 degrees Celsius (about 79 degrees Fahrenheit) with 77 percent humidity. That’s AT MIDNIGHT.
- Let’s not mess around and clinch this damn title against a pair of teams in the bottom half of the Serie A table before the weekend is over, please. That will be nice.