The goalkeepers of Juventus experienced something that hadn’t been seen in nearly a decade. And because of that, it may cause some to look at the performances of those who manned the gloves each game with different kind of glasses as compared to years when Juventus’ defense was arguably the best in Europe and they rarely had to do much at all.
In years prior, we’ve always joked that there were more than just a few games where Gigi Buffon would do next to nothing over the course of 90 minutes. Like, literally nothing other than take a few passes, redistribute the ball to a teammate and then just chill. If he wanted to sit with a nice glass of vino and read a book that was much more exciting than what he’d actually have to do on the field.
I mention the years of defensive dominance because, well, none of the Juventus keepers were really able to take large portions of games off this season. Far from it. The 2019-20 season was mark by defensive inability and a lack of consistency rather than dominance.
Not even the return of Buffon from a season in Paris resulted in the return of a dominant defense.
The 2019-20 edition Juventus allowed the highest goal total of any Bianconeri side over the last nine years of this current Scudetto run that started back in 2011. To go even further, it was this same Juventus side that allowed the most goals of any Scudetto winner since the early 1060s, which is cool in the winning title sense of things but not so hot in the whole allowing a lot of goals aspect.
We know Juve’s defense was a mess.
But the same thing couldn’t be said for Wojciech Szczesny and a certain guy with the last name of Buffon who shocked us all and returned to Juventus last summer to serve as the club’s backup goalkeeper.
Wojciech Szczesny — 8
In his second season as Juventus’ starting goalkeeper, Szczesny was a busy fella. More so than any other Juve goalkeeper — which, basically means Buffon — has been over the course of the club’s current Scudetto-winning run.
Here are two numbers that support that:
- Szczesny’s saves in the 2018-19 Serie A season: 59
- Szczesny’s saves in the 2019-20 Serie A season: 95
That’s ... a major discrepancy from one season to the next, and it really does sum up the defensive struggles that Juventus had this season under Maurizio Sarri. And just in case that those save numbers are caused by Szczesny playing much more this season as compared to last year, here’s another couple of numbers for you to digest:
- Games played in 2018-19 Serie A season: 28 (2,520 minutes)
- Games played in 2019-20 Serie A season: 29 (2,691 minutes)
The increase in saves and goals allowed this season doesn’t mean Szczesny regressed as a goalkeeper or anything close to it. He might not be in the elite of the elite at the position, but he is definitely in that next tier of the really, really good. And like Szczesny said throughout his first season in Turin as he served as Juve’s backup keeper, there’s no reason for him to try and be Gigi Buffon when he’s out there simply because there’s only one Gigi Buffon.
There are still things where Szczesny leaves stuff to be desired — he’s not exactly known for his distribution skills, something he struggled with a decent amount of the time after the restart; his organization of Juve’s defense can, at times, need some work.
But what Szczesny is good at, he’s really good at.
There were games last season when one save defined Szczesny’s game and allowed Juventus to secure another three points. This season, though, things were obviously a whole lot busier, and there were games where two or three top-shelf saves were the thing that prevented Juventus from dropping points.
Year 2 as Juventus’ starting goalkeeper for Szczesny was just further confirmation that goalkeeper doesn’t need to be all that high up on the areas of the field where the club has to do some serious upgrading.
Gianluigi Buffon — 7
It wasn’t so long ago that I thought I was never going to give Buffon another season rating. Because of that, I thought it was only fitting to give Buffon a perfect 10 since he is, well, the God of Goalkeepers. Buffon’s final season with Juventus, one that ended with him getting about as emotional sendoff as one could get after he was subbed off early in the second half,
Yet, here we are.
And this was obviously a much, much different kind of season for Buffon as compared to the last time he was getting a season rating from these parts of the internet. This was a season where Buffon not only made a return to Juventus that we didn’t expect him to make, but also completely accept and buy in to being the backup goalkeeper at the same club where he became the best to ever play the position. It was the kind of role that had him being the backup to Szczesny, the same guy who was once the No. 2 keeper behind Buffon.
It was weird at first, but if Buffon was cool with it, then we should be, too, right?
Despite all of that, despite the fact that he’s now well into his 40s and now that he’s playing once or twice a month at most, Buffon is still able to be the guy who’s the hero and secures Juventus three points. You know, like what he did against Bologna in one of his first appearances at Allianz Stadium since returning to Juventus last July.
Buffon’s new role is much different than his previous role. And, you know what, he seems pretty damn OK with it all. And when he’s called into action, he’s proven that he can still get the job done even though he’s getting nothing close to consistent minutes.
It might still be a little weird to know that Buffon is on Juve’s roster and not the full-time start. (Hell, he appeared in a career-low Serie A games this past season.) But Juventus can say something that no other club can: When it comes to the backup goalkeeper position, it is pretty convenient that Juventus has the greatest to ever play the position to turn to whenever they so please.
Carlo Pinsoglio — s/v
Again, he’s got the best job at the club.
I don’t care that I say it every season in these ratings. It’s true, and he fits the role so damn well it’s crazy.
And what the empty stadiums provided us while watching from afar is what his teammates experience every single day during training, in the locker room and then on the field during games. Over the course of games, you could hear Pinsoglio yelling at his teammates just as much as Maurizio Sarri was barking out instructions.
It was glorious.
It was amusing.
It was pure Pinsoglio. The exact thing you would expect from him if you have any sort of idea what kind of dude he is.
Pinsoglio played in one game this season. It was a game he didn’t start and only logged about 20 minutes of game time. He didn’t allow a goal. He won’t technically end the season with the best save percentage in Serie A because he didn’t play enough minutes. But when you look at the simple comedy of what that could be like if a dude who’s played all of half an hour all season having that to his name, then Pinso is your guy.
I mean, the guy’s won more Scudetti than games he’s appeared in since coming back to Juventus after essentially a decade out on loan. That’s gotta be worth something, right?