In a season where Juventus has kept us on our toes and wondering which version of them will show up on a game-to-game basis, the one that is capable of beating anybody in Serie A was the one that jumped off the bus and took the field at the San Siro on Wednesday night.
Good Juventus most definitely showed up in Milan.
Powered by one hell of a brace from Federico Chiesa and a final exclamation point from Weston McKennie, Juventus got the win they DESPERATELY needed against league leaders AC Milan. This 3-1 victory, Juve’s second straight coming out of the abbreviated holiday break, was the kind of statement game opportunity that they very much needed to take advantage of when it was right in front of them. This was the chance to get Milan when they were shorthanded and without some of their most important players due to injuries and COVID-19. (Juve, too, was shorthanded due to injuries and COVID-19, so take that as you want.)
And Juve delivered.
Things obviously look a lot better when you’re trailing the league leaders by seven points in a game in hand as compared to having said game to make up against Napoli and you’re trailing by 13 points. And as we’ve been saying for the better part of the last two weeks, Juventus can’t afford to drop any more points at this point in time. The room for error, the fact that they can get away with mistakes and struggling to beat teams they should beat for a game here or there is gone.
Juventus has played two games in this must-win kind of situation and played pretty well in both of them. They’ve gotten all six points. They’ve gotten the lead first and really had extended periods of time in both games where they were truly looking quite good. Like the Udinese win, this was not perfect by any means, but it sure did the trick.
Basically, Juventus again won a game where they needed to win.
We’re going to say that a lot over the next few weeks, likely a good amount over the next few months and plenty of times between now and the end of the season.
The fact that Juventus needed a performance like this against a strong team like Milan — remember, they had been playing pretty well even without some of their players who missed Wednesday’s game — and went out and did it, that’s pretty impressive.
They know what the situation is right now, and for two games they’ve played exactly how they need to. It remains to be seen if they can keep it going through this crazy month with tough opponent after tough opponent, but they’re doing pretty well through the first two games of January.
So, yeah, not too shabby, Mr. Pirlo.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- That was a foul committed against Adrien Rabiot that lead to Milan’s goal. Thank you all for reading.
- That was also probably a foul on Adrien Rabiot that should have been a PK for Milan in stoppage time. Thank you all for reading.
- Essentially, this ref was terrible from the first minute until the last. This wasn’t something the one team clearly benefited from and the other lost because of. He just sucked in general.
- On a day that has been completely idiotic and horrible in the United States, Weston McKennie reminds us that good things can come out of America. Thank you, Weston.
- Holy Federico Chiesa, Batman.
- Seriously, Chiesa looked every bit of a player that will cost €50 million once his contract is bought outright from Fiorentina in the summer of 2022. He was absolutely fantastic in the first half, going right at one of the best left backs in the world, Theo Hernandez, and making it look completely easy. Both of his goals were great. (Seriously, if you get a chance to see the slow-motion replay of his second goal, watch it 10 times. The way the ball perfectly splits the two defenders right after Chiesa makes contact is hypnotizing.) This was the game-changing player Juve shelled out a bunch of money for. He was great, simply great.
- Paulo Dybala with two assists — how about that first one to Chiesa, by the way?! — and played pretty well overall. Maybe, just maybe, we’re starting to see him work his way out of this early-season struggle that he’s been dealing with and we can get the real Dybala we’re all used to watching soon.
- Maybe we should have known it would be a complete struggle for Rodrigo Bentancur after he absolutely shanked a couple of passes right to Milan players in the first half. So much for that really good second half from over the weekend. This one was a tough one for my adopted son.
- Juventus just won a game where Cristiano Ronaldo took two shots, both of which were blocked. Not that he was bad by any means because he did have some good moments and contributions, but this just shows that Juve can be more than just Ronaldo and they don’t need him to put the team on his back every game. (For all I know I could be saying the exact opposite of this over the weekend or against Inter next weekend.)
- We’ve seen discussions on this website about if Gianluigi Buffon should play in big games, thus essentially telling Wojciech Szczesny that he’s not good enough to play in big games. Well, I feel safe in saying that Szczesny was EASILY one of Juve’s best players on Wednesday night. The majority of the saves he made were fantastic, and he was pretty much as good as he could have been. For the Tek defenders like myself, this is one where we pat ourselves on the back for being loyal to Juve’s No. 1.
- Danilo! Yeah, Danilo. He’s still proving ALL OF US wrong with how he’s playing this season. (Also, that yellow card he got was complete crap.)
- Gianluca Frabotta? Gianluca Frabotta!
- Also, amazing what Juve is able to do defensively when Leonardo Bonucci isn’t a complete dumpster fire and is relatively reliable for much of the game. Props to Leo.
- Repeating from other post-game threads: There is nothing better during these games without anybody in the stands than listening to Buffon and Carlo Pinsoglio yelling at their teammates from the bench when Juventus has a second-half lead. The high-pitched howing from Pinsoglio after each Szczesny save was especially enjoyable.
- That game was both nervous as all hell and incredibly fun all at the same time. Maybe that’s a sign that Juventus is getting back to being the Juventus we know best.
- That was Milan’s first loss of the season. Unbeaten no more. You’re welcome.