It really would have been the perfectly on-brand moment for this 2020-21 Juventus season where they would drop points in the game right after reintroducing themselves to the Scudetto race. It would have also been perfectly on brand for the 2020-21 edition of Juventus to drop points and look terrible doing it against an opponent that was down a man for nearly 50 minutes of game time.
These are not the rules, but they certainly do feel like them, don’t they?
But going against the (unwritten) rules sometimes is nice, too.
Juventus looked like they were going to drop points until Aaron Ramsey, who had pretty much summed up the team’s overall bleh performance up until that point, found the back of the net in the 82nd to put the Bianconeri back in front and help them claim a 3-1 win over Sassuolo on Sunday night. It was a game where Juve, despite being up a man after Sassuolo’s Pedro Obiang was shown a red card late in the first half, were far from impressive, far from good at all and far from the team that we saw beat league leaders AC Milan all of a couple of days earlier.
And, to pretty much put the capper on Ramsey’s goal, which came after the Welshman had failed to convert a couple of really good chances already, there’s this little nugget of info:
Frabotta and Ramsey were about to come off (for Morata and Berna) when they combined to score to make it 2-1. Morata/Bernardeschi still coming on, but for Chiesa and Ramsey.— Gabriele Marcotti (@Marcotti) January 10, 2021
And, really, can you blame Andrea Pirlo for wanting to sub Ramsey and Frabotta off? Of course you can’t, because both players — and especially Ramsey since he was playing such an advanced role and not even taking advantage of the clear-cut chances he had after coming on for Weston McKennie — were not very good up until they combined for the go-ahead goal.
It was that kind of game.
It was that kind of performance.
Yet, and unfortunately for a Sassuolo side that was pretty impressive even after going down a man, Juventus was able to somehow get themselves a win in a game they didn’t deserve to win based on how they played. You can also now say they’ve won back-to-back-to-back Serie A games for the first time all season, so we can check that off the list of things that took way too long to accomplish under Pirlo.
As much as we can be angry curmudgeons about how Juve played, simply keeping pace with Milan is what matters the most. Juve needed three points — and especially after Saturday’s results — and that’s what they got. That doesn’t excuse the lackluster effort against a shorthanded opponent, but that’s the silver lining in all of this. As time went on, this had the feelings of a Benevento or Crotone kind of game where Juve was very much going to be hammered for a bad game, but Ramsey’s goal bailed all of that out.
That’s good, right? You know, Juventus getting three points in games where they were far from playing well or even the better side on the night?
I’ll take it — especially with the circumstances that we’re currently under where any more dropping of points will likely mean a second half of the season being filled with “What if?” thoughts. For now, though, Juventus won a game where they didn’t play well at all, and that’s something I won’t object to simply based on the other result options.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- These blue jerseys tho
- MORE OF THE BLUE JERSEYS, JUVENTUS.
- Manuel Locatelli ... mamma mia. Please bring that man to Juventus next summer, please.
- This game furthers the notion that Matthijs de Ligt is Juventus’ most important defender and it really isn’t much of a debate at all.
- This game also furthers the notion that Leonardo Bonucci is becoming more and more of a liability as time goes on this season. And without de Ligt for the next week or so at the very least, the fact that an erratic Bonucci is leading Juve’s defense is ... yeah, I don’t even know what else to say about all of that.
- Oh, I do know one thing to say: I wish Giorgio Chiellini’s muscles didn’t hate him so that he could actually play in some games. That would be really, really nice.
- Why WhoScored ratings can be very misleading sometimes: Aaron Ramsey, who was very much not good against Sassuolo, got a 7.95 WhoScored rating as of this sentence being written. I know it’s simply computer generated and algorithm based, but yeah. Aaron Ramsey was definitely nowhere near that kind of rating.
- My man Danilo has been trying that kind of shot from outside of the box all season long. He has been pretty consistent in the end result of said kind of shot ... until Sunday’s game when he absolutely connected on Juve’s first goal of the game. It was the complete opposite of how things had gone on those long-range attempts from this season. It was also fitting that he tried the same kind of shot toward the end of the game and absolutely skied it well over the goal. At least he hit the first one perfectly.
- Danilo also had six tackles and was pretty good defensively AGAIN. I really didn’t expect Danilo to become Juve’s second-best defender this season back in September, but here we are two weeks into 2021 and that’s the case. Consider me perfectly OK with being proven wrong on this front.
- Up until his goal, Cristiano Ronaldo was not very good. Them’s just the facts, folks.
- Then he scored to prevent any kind of late-late-late-game Sassuolo craziness and we can officially display a tweet that looks like this one now ...
Most official goals scored for club and country in football history:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 10, 2021
◉ Josef Bican (759)
◉ Cristiano Ronaldo (759)
◎ Pelé (757)
Cristiano Ronaldo is now level with Josef Bican. pic.twitter.com/LipSM82i4Y
- Have I mentioned that I miss Matthijs de LIgt already?
- Juventus outshot Sassuolo by over a 2-to-1 ratio and it didn’t feel like that at all. Even though Juventus were up a man for over half of the game, this was very much the kind of game where they lost and we could totally understand why.
- That said, Juve’s finishing in this game was awful. Truly, truly awful.
- Per Pirlo in his post-match press conference, McKennie had a slight muscle injury going into the game but decided to give it a go anyway. Obviously that came back to hurt both Pirlo and Juventus in general. Hopefully it’s such a minor issue that he will be good to go for the Derby d’Italia next weekend.
- Juventus’ midfield in this game ... no comment.
- Actually, one comment: The way the Juve midfield played in this game made it even easier to understand why they need to sign somebody like Locatelli this coming summer. He’s both that good and fills just such a glaring hole in the midfield.
- Speaking of unwritten rules that exist in Serie A, did you notice who just so happened to miss another Juventus-Sassuolo game? Yep, the one and only Domenico Berardi.
- It’s going to be very interesting to see what kind of squad is available to play against Inter next weekend. We were always going to see some kind of squad rotation against Genoa in the Coppa Italia midweek — or as much as is possible with who’s available — but with the sudden heap of injuries on top of the COVID-19 cases, it’s not like Pirlo will have a lot to choose from. (I’m totally OKJ with being proven wrong on this front as well, folks.)