Juventus needed something, anything, to help turn things in the right direction against Inter Milan after halftime. The first half was both somewhat flat yet somewhat wasteful all at the same time, with a 1-0 deficit to show for it after one of the more unlucky bounces you will see take place this season.
Max Allegri, realizing something needed to be done, clearly went for it with his team down a goal. On came Federico Chiesa and Paulo Dybala. On came Arthur and Kaio Jorge.
All of the weapons that started on the bench were used.
And yet the only thing that one half of this long-standing rivalry will be talking about is how Juventus actually got its game-tying goal right before stoppage time.
In his return from nearly a month out injured, Dybala’s 89th-minute penalty pulled Juventus even and allowed Allegri’s squad to steal a point from Inter in a 1-1 draw at the San Siro on Sunday night. The actual goal wasn’t the controversial part, but how it happened was, with VAR coming to the rescue to get a penalty call a couple of minutes after the initial foul on Alex Sandro actually happened.
Call me a homer all you want, but it was the right call, folks.
You might not like it. You might want to see it taken out of the rulebook. But the contact that Denzel Dumfries made with Alex Sandro after the Brazilian fullback ha1d attempted to pass the ball to a teammate was, just barely, inside of the Inter penalty area. And after a check of VAR, the call was made, allowing Dybala to step up to the penalty spot.
Dybala did what he almost always does on PKs, and it was 1-1 because of it.
While Juventus got a point and kept its unbeaten run going, the unfortunate part of it is that Dybala’s goal simply tied it rather than cap a second-half comeback where the switch was finally flipped on. For as all over the place the first half was, Juve ended up outshooting Inter 16-10 for the game. They had chances to score in the second half, but couldn’t put the ball away until Dybala stepped up to the penalty spot.
This coulda been worse because Juve were just five minutes of stoppage time away from losing this game before Dybala tied it. It could have been better because of the scoring chances they did have. (Goodness, Samir Handanovic gave up some juicy rebounds in this game, didn’t he?)
It’s not a bad result. Getting a draw — especially with how the game started out for Juve — at the San Siro is usually never a bad thing. It was just a moment or two from being just that much better.
Either way, Juve’s up to sixth place in the table and one point behind Roma in fourth. If you were to tell me a month ago that this would be the case, I’d probably laugh. Instead, I’m rather content. Maybe not truly happy, but content is better than the much grumpier alternative that would have been present if Juve hadn’t gotten some help from VAR.
RNDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- RIP to the clean sheet streak. It was 384 minutes of wonderful goodness.
- Maybe if the referee actually said Federico Bernardeschi was offside when it was first called by the assistant then he wouldn’t have gone on to play for another 10 seconds and then hurt his shoulder. I dunno, but sometimes you just need to make the damn call rather than letting play go on ALL the time. That’s just me, though.
- Why deflections are dumb, Part 2,348: Inter’s original shot that led to Edin Dzeko’s goal wasn’t going on frame. Instead, it deflected off Manuel Locatelli as he was trying to block it and hit off the woodwork. It bounced off the post, right to Dzeko — he didn’t even have to move! — and there you have it. Deflections are dumb.
- There were points in the first half where Inter’s press was completely overwhelming Juventus’ backline and midfield. So many careless turnovers that didn’t need to happen.
- That said, Juventus also had a good number of chances come about because of Inter being sloppy in their defensive half of the field. The problem was, of course, that Juve couldn’t take advantage of any of them in the first half. It looked even worse when Inter was already ahead 1-0. It’s a completely different second half if Juve’s able to make Inter pay for one of those turnovers and we see this thing go into the half tied at 1-1.
- Inter had a 55-45 advantage in possession in the first half. Juve outshot Inter 8-6 in the first half. So, that makes sense.
- A tweet about one of Max Allegri’s starting lineup choices:
Watching Kulusevski play the Derby d’Italia while Chiesa sits on the bench feels like someone pouring the house red into your Barolo bottle and hoping you won’t notice. #InterJuve #DerbydItalia— Giancarlo Rinaldi (@ginkers) October 24, 2021
- Kaio Jorge’s first two Serie A appearances: Derby della Mole, Derby d’Italia. He’s obviously been worked in slowly since coming back from injury, but that’s not exactly throwing him into the shallow end of the pool in terms of atmospheres to be subbed into.
- Who knows if it was the condition of which he came into the game played into it, but man was Rodrigo Bentancur all over the place after he came on for Bernardeschi. It was essentially the player we saw for much of last season where he couldn’t do much of anything right. But a better second half finally brought some stability to the midfield.
- You know what also helped? Bringing Arthur on. I know Weston McKennie worked his tail off defensively and was actually making some positive runs into the box, but Juve just needed another body who could control the ball in the midfield.
- I will say it every time Juventus plays Inter, but holy crap is Nico Barella good. Dude was absolutely all over the place. He covered so much ground defensively, initiated so much good that Inter did. Even when he was totally gassed and looked to be cramping up he was running down Juve players. He’s only 24 now. It’s scary to think about how good he will be in a couple of years.
- A sign of just how disjointed things were for Juve in attack in the first half? Paulo Dybala led the team in key passes and he only played for half an hour.
- Another sign of that: Two Juve starters had a pass success rate of over 90 percent. One of them was Wojciech Szczesny. Not great. Bob.
- Juve’s attempted long balls for much of the night were ... not great.
- I’m guessing the Italian media keeps things low key with the VAR call that led to Dybala’s game-tying goal. Yeah, that sounds about right. The Italian media never makes a big deal over these types of things — especially when they involve Juventus, and especially when they come in the league’s most visible rivalry game. Nope, not one bit.
- After this game, can we please start playing Freddie Church on the wings again, Max? Pretty please?
- Paulo Dybala scoring goals is fun. Paulo Dybala scoring goals against Inter is even more fun.