HA! You thought you were finished with the 2019-20 season, didn’t you?
Well, I don’t blame you. It’s a season we’d all like to put past us. But we’ve got one last thing to discuss before we finally put it firmly in the past.
But don’t worry! This one is actually going to be kinda fun.
Juventus had 99 goals for in all competitions this past season. Three of them were own goals, so the Bianconeri managed 96 all by themselves. And a lot of them were pretty damn good.
I’ve gone through every goal Juve scored this year, and whittled the pack down to the 15 best goals the team scored all season. Let’s relieve some of the good stuff.
Honorable Mention: Paulo Dybala, at Triestina, preseason friendly
This is quite frankly a better goal than a good chunk of the main list, but it’s getting an honorable mention because it came in a preseason friendly.
Last offseason was arduous for Paulo Dybala to say the least. While he was representing Argentina at the Copa America, Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici desperately tried to offload him, first in a swap deal with Manchester United involving Romelu Lukaku, then in a straight sale to Tottenham Hotspur. But Dybala didn’t want to go, and fought to stay. By the time he got back from his extended vacation following international duty, he was looking to stake his place in a team that didn’t seem to want him anymore.
Dybala made his preseason debut in the annual match against the B squad at Villar Perosa and scored twice, then three days later started in the team’s last preseason game against Triestina. Late in the first half, this goal made a huge statement.
Dybala had managed to find a huge gap between defenders and Federico Bernardeschi fed him. Dybala took an outrageous back-heel touch that turned Andrea Scrugli inside out before feathering a chip over keeper Daniel Offredi from 16 yards out. He didn’t do his usual Dybala Mask celebration. Instead he popped the nameplate on the back of his jersey and then pounded his chest near the Juventus badge — clearly indicating that he was still here and intended to make an impact. Considering the fact that he appears on the main list more than anyone else, it’s fair to say he made one.
(To see the goal, skip to 0:48 in the highlights above.)
15) Gonzalo Higuain, vs. Napoli, Serie A Round 2
Gonzalo Higuain is another guy who no one expected to be on the team this past year. After being off-loaded on two separate loans in the 2018-19 campaign after the acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo, most assumed Juve would figure out a way to offload him permanently. Instead, Higuain held out for a chance to impress under Maurizio Sarri, who had coached him to Serie A’s single-season record in goals in the one season they were together at Napoli.
Higuain was starting striker for a good chunk of the early phase of the season, including the high-profile meeting with his old team the second week of the season. Juve was already up 1-0 when an attack began down the left side. Blaise Matuidi squared a ball to Higuain in the left channel, and the striker went to work. He made a fantastic turn, breaking the ankles of Kalidou Koulibaly and then firing into the far corner from eight yards out. It was a vintage goal and the start of a redemption tour that would last most of the first half of the season before unfortunately petering out in the second half. Higuain’s time with Juventus is most likely over, but goals like this will be his legacy with the club.
14: Cristiano Ronaldo, at Hellas Verona, Serie A Round 23
This game ended up being the first of several mystifying brain farts from winning positions, but Juve’s opening goal was a peach from Ronaldo.
Ronaldo played a one-two with Rodrigo Bentancur, the latter sending Ronaldo over the top one-on-one with center-back Amir Rrahmani. Ronaldo advanced diagonally, took a stepover to make just enough space for himself and then shot against the grain, beating Marco Silvestri to give Juve a 1-0 lead that, unfortunately, they would eventually flub.
13: Paulo Dybala, vs. Udinese, Coppa Italia Round of 16
Juve scored twice from open play and twice from the spot in their Coppa Italia Round of 16 win over Udinese in December. Both of the open play goals involved a combination of Dybala and Higuain, and both were spectacular.
Juve were already up 2-0 when they broke down the field two minutes shy of the hour mark. Higuain went through the middle before laying it off to Dybala on the right. The No. 10, who was wearing the captain’s armband for the night, had already scored from the spot and notched a great assist, took one touch to control and then floated a ball toward the top far corner. Brazilian goalkeeper Nicolas got a hand to it, but the ball still dinked off the bottom of the crossbar and into the net to put the exclamation point on a banner day for the Argentine.
(To see the goal, skip to 2:19 in the highlight.)
12: Gonzalo Higuain, vs. Udinese, Coppa Italia Round of 16
The opener from Juve’s Coppa dismantling of Udinese was a thing of beauty. After receiving a simple pass from Bentancur, Higuain dropped a pass back to Dybala. The two then traveled nearly 20 yards downfield together, exchanging six passes between themselves, the last of which was an amazing no-look feed that hit Higuain in the chest on the penalty spot, setting up a neat half-volley finish to give the Old Lady the lead.
(To see the goal, skip to 0:15 in the highlight in the last entry.)
11: Aaron Ramsey, at SPAL, Serie A Round 25
Aaron Ramsey’s season was a strange one. He had to wait out and early injury — what else is new for his career? — and then tried his hand at playing as a trequartista when Maurizio Sarri tried out a 4-3-1-2 formation. But nothing really stuck, and he looked like a big mistake signing. Then around the turn of the year his form started to pick up, coinciding with a move back to a more box-to-box role in midfield. It started looking like he was really beginning to establish himself as part of Sarri’s best midfield before the COVID-19 shutdown. Unfortunately he never reestablished that form after play resumed, and his future with the club is now up in the air. But this goal was one of his high points.
It came off a good bit of buildup, with a series of passes from their own box. Ramsey made one of the first of those, then ran three-quarters the length of the field while completely escaping the notice of any SPAL defenders. He did not, however, escape the notice of Dybala, who fed him a through ball into the channel. Ramsey took a touch with his left, then hit an outrageous chip over the onrushing Etrit Berisha. It would be an incredible shot in any context, but the fact that he did it while still in full stride was remarkable. It made the score 2-0, and Juve would hold on for a 2-1 win, their first in the Stadio Paolo Mazza since SPAL was promoted three years ago.
10: Cristiano Ronaldo, at Genoa, Serie A Round 29
Juve’s 3-1 win over Genoa clinched the team’s first double at the Marassi since 2015-16, and all three of Juve’s goals were absolute stunners, and two of them made the list.
Ronaldo’s was the second of the three, and it was an absolute rocket. It started with an interception by Danilo. The ball bounced loose in the midfield. Adrien Rabiot helped corral it with a header, then Miralem Pjanic tapped it forward to Ronaldo. The Genoa defense sagged away as he charged forward, giving him all kinds of space. He took full advantage of all the room and loaded up, hitting an absolute rocket from 25 yards that nearly ripped through the back of the net. Poor Mattia Perin had zero chance. Nearly as good as the goal itself was the celebration, as Ronaldo made a beeline for the embrace of resident cool uncle Carlo Pinsoglio.
9: Gonzalo Higuain, at Inter, Serie A Round 7
The first really big game of the season, Juve came into their first meeting with Antonio Conte’s Inter in October trailing by two points in the early title race. They rose to the occasion, playing one of their best games of the season and inspiring belief that Sarri’s system was starting to take hold.
The deciding goal of the 2-1 game was easily the purest expression of Sarrismo that the team showed all year long. The buildup saw Juventus make twenty-four passes, coming to a head when Bentancur found Higuain in space in the right channel. Higuain drove forward and beat Samir Handanovic low, breaking Inter’s hearts in San Siro for the second time in three years.
Unfortunately, this game turned out to be the ultimate tease. The promise of the performance was never realized. When the team came back from the international break their form cratered, only ever getting to the same level again for the return match against Inter just before the shutdown. But for this shining night, we were all hopeful.
8: Miralem Pjanic, vs. SPAL, Serie A Round 6
Miralem Pjanic is another of the season’s biggest disappointments. For the first few weeks of the year he was incredible, almost Pirlo-esque as he ran the midfield. But like Juve’s form after the October internationals, he took a nosedive, and by the time the shutdown came there were serious debates as to whether he or Bentancur was the best option for the regista position.
But those first few weeks of the year the Bosnian was a sight to behold, and his high water mark was this first-time curler that came after Sami Khedira volleyed a punched cross into his path. Berisha had no chance, and Juve had a 1-0 lead on the stroke of halftime.
(To see the goal, skip to 1:39 in the highlight.)
7: Paulo Dybala, vs. Torino, Serie A Round 30
Dybala went on a spree after Serie A play resumed and he took up the false nine position full-time, scoring in the team’s first four league games. All of them were excellent, but this one against Torino was the best out of the four.
Coming three minutes into the match, Dybala was fed into the right channel by Juan Cuadrado and went to work. He made Lyanco look silly with a dip of the shoulder and dropped Armando Izzo onto his rear end with another little stutter before lifting the ball over Salvatore Sirigu, who was anticipating a far-post shot.
Despite a controversial penalty award for Torino later in the game, Juve won the game by a comfortable 4-1 score — perhaps the last time they would be so comfortable in a game for the rest of the season.
To see the goal, skip to 0:13 in the highlight.
6: Paulo Dybala, vs. Inter, Serie A Round 26
There was a lot weird about this game. It had been rescheduled several times as the coronavirus situation in Italy grew critical, and would indeed be the last game played in Italy before the three-month shutdown. In normal times the game would have been an insane spectacle. The Derby d’Italia is enough to whip the Allianz Stadium crowd into a frenzy, but throwing in the implications to the title race and the fact that it was scheduled to be Antonio Conte’s first trip back to the stadium as the manager of an opposing team would’ve made things downright molten.
Instead, it was played to an empty stadium, a harbinger of things to come. It was also perhaps the best game Juve played all year. They thoroughly dominated from first whistle to last. Their first goal came 10 minutes into the second half when Ramsey poked through in a scrum, and then Dybala iced it with this goal 12 minutes later. He took down a long pass from Bentancur on the right, played a one-two with Ramsey, made Ashley Young look silly with a single touch to bring the ball across him, then poked the ball against the grain of his dribble with the outside of his left foot, leaving Handanovic rooted to his spot before running to the sideline and getting buried in a scrum of hugging teammates.
In hindsight that last bit may not have been so wise, but the wonderful goal sealed the 2-0 win and kept Juve a point ahead of Lazio as the shutdown loomed.
5: Adrien Rabiot, at AC Milan, Serie A Round 31
For much of the season, Adrien Rabiot looked like a lost cause. It was right to give him the benefit of the doubt for a while. Before he made his Juventus debut he hadn’t played since January of 2019, when PSG froze him out for not signing a contract extension. He would need time to get his legs back.
But as time wore on he got more and more frustrating, showing the odd flash in a game but for the most part not making much impact. This reached a nadir in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 at Lyon, when he made absolutely no impact and even led me to give up on him.
But, about a quarter of the way through the restart, the Frenchman’s form started picking up, and as it reached its height he suddenly became the best performing midfielder on the team. This goal, his first in a Juve shirt, was the epitome of his renaissance. Gaining the ball from Ismael Bennacer in the Juventus half, Rabiot drove downfield, brushing aside an attempt by Theo Hernandez to stop him. He kept going, eventually driving nearly three-quarters of the field solo before shooting back the way he’d come from the top of the penalty arc. Gianluigi Donnarumma had zero chance to stop it, and the delirious cheering from his teammates as they mobbed him showed just how much they knew the goal meant to him.
Juve eventually self-immolated and lost the game 4-2, but Rabiot had completed his transition from transfer list to indespensible.
4: Cristiano Ronaldo, at Sampdoria, Serie A Round 17
This one had the Ronaldo die-hards in hysterics for days afterwards, and it’s easy to see why.
Ronaldo’s status as one of the game’s best headers of the ball is indisputable (it’s why he really should be in the box and not behind the ball on a lot of free kicks). But this goal took that reputation and cranked it up to 11.
Both teams had scored in the first 35 minutes, including an incredible volley by Dybala that was under serious consideration for this list as well. With the score level at one, Alex Sandro sent a cross to the far post. Ronaldo met it with a preposterous leap. He got 71 centimeters—nearly two-and-a-half feet—off the ground and hung in the air for a full second, meeting the delivery with a powerful header that flew in just under the bar. Adding to the degree of difficulty was the angle of the shot, which originated a good foot or two outside the post. It was the kind of strike that even I, who as it’s well know has his problems with Ronaldo, could do little more than gape in awe at.
3: Douglas Costa, at Genoa, Serie A Round 29
As good as Ronaldo’s goal against Genoa was, this one has it — and most of the goals Juve scored this year—beat.
We’d already seen a pretty Dybala finish and Ronaldo’s screamer, but Douglas Costa — who’d only been on the field for seven minutes — upstaged them both with a shot that took such an insane curl that Perin had given it up as going wide and barely moved — although it was placed so perfectly in the upper 90 that even if he had reacted he probably wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it. It looked as though it had turned on command at just the right moment, almost like a drone on a remote control. It was an incredible strike that will go down as one of the highlights of Costa’s time at the club.
2: Paulo Dybala, vs. Atletico Madrid, Champions League Group Stage
Paulo Dybala is the kind of player whose confidence level you can tell by how he plays. When he believes in himself, he’ll try anything. When he’s in doubt, he’ll look rushed and indecisive. This goal was definitive proof that the Dybala we saw two years ago was back.
To even attempt this kind of shot — a free kick less than a yard outside the penalty area and maybe two yards in front of the end line on the right side — requires a level of audacity that only the truly talented, and truly confident, possess. To do so when the best goalkeeper in the world, Jan Oblak, is standing between the sticks is to be almost in a heightened state of being.
But he did it, and he scored it, with Oblak slightly unsighted by his own wall and unable to stop it from flying over his head and into the goal. The above video, which shows several angles from around the J Stadium that night, is proof of just how absurd the shot was.
So how can a shot like this possibly not make the top slot? Because of this...
1: Douglas Costa, at Lokomitiv Moscow, Champions League Group Stage
Juve had been slogging through a crappy match in the rain in Moscow on Nov. 6. They’d gone up 1-0 after a Ronaldo free kick had gone through the goalkeeper and been tapped in by Ramsey. But they’d given up an equalizer eight minutes later and the rest of the game had been a flat, stultifying affair. It looked like there wasn’t a goal coming from anywhere — until the second minute of stoppage time, when Douglas Costa did what Douglas Costa do.
It’s a real shame that we only ever saw him fully healthy for one season in Turin, because when he’s well and on form there simply isn’t anyone in the world that can match his combination of pace and technique. In this case, he took a simple pass on the right sideline and slalomed through seven Lokomotiv defenders, aided by a give-and-go with Higuain that included an excellent back-heel feed from the Argentine. The only player that got close to him, Maciej Rybus, didn’t even make a challenge, instead throwing up his hands because he knew if he made an attempt all he’d do would be to take the Brazilian down for a penalty.
It was a fantastic goal that saved an awful game and secured Juve’s place in the knockout rounds of the competition. Costa’s time with Juve may well be over, but moments like this will ring in the history of the club for years to come.