Abolish midweek — domestic — fixtures.
Not only because it only adds more minutes to the legs of guys who are already playing a preposterous amount of games in very little time. But also because they are scheduled at ridiculous hours that make your average working stiff — AKA me — unable to watch games while sitting at work.
And look, sure, have I snuck out to “work outside” for a bit when Juventus plays midweek fixtures in the Champions League? Sure, I have, because it’s the Champions League! But I’m sure as hell not risking my job to watch them play freakin’ Sassuolo.
And I’m happy I didn’t, because as I received the push notification that Maxime Lopez cheekily chipped Mattia Perin in the last minute of stoppage time to give Sassuolo the 2-1 lead, I could only sigh and keep slaving away content in the knowledge that at the very least I didn’t have to watch it live.
(I, of course, watched the replay later at home to write this piece, because I’m committed to my craft despite you ungrateful heathens daring to question my takes and disrespecting the art by constantly going OT in the comments instead of infinitely appreciating the wisdom I give you for literally free. It is my burden to bear.)
Alas, this team remains exceptionally talented at providing their fans with unexpected gut punches.
LVP: Adrien Rabiot
Whenever someone gets subbed off at halftime with no signs of it being due to an injury, it’s hard to make the case they weren’t the worst player on the pitch.
And look, the guy just came back from getting COVID, perhaps they rushed him back too quickly, but it’s undeniable that Rabiot was as anonymous as it gets in his 45 minute stint on Wednesday.
I’m still not sure how I feel about the whole Rabiot on the wing experiment. He’s obviously not a natural winger, but he does bring a certain balance and positioning to the spot that you don’t always get from a more offensively inclined player. It hasn’t been a slam dunk but I’m not as low on the experiment quite yet.
Granted, the good moments we have seen from him there have come earlier in the season when he was playing decent football and against Sassuolo that was very much not the case. Still, for as much slack as I want too give him, he wins the LVP handily.
Grab Bag MVP Season Leader: Manuel Locatelli (8 Points)
The Sad Ballad of Mattia de Sciglio
Look, I hate to say I told you so, but I did damn told you so.
I have written positive words about De Sciglio, I swear! It’s true! I believed just as much as many of you wanted to believe. He can put forth good performances, his best season came under Max Allegri in Milan, he just hasn’t been in the right situation, that’s all!
The predictable pattern that we have come to expect from his career came true once again, as after two very promising starts we saw the Italian fullback leave the game early injured. Look, it's not his fault, it's not like he’s out here trying to get hurt. Some guys are just more injury prone than others — it happened to old Sami Khedira, it happened to Douglas Costa, too.
But the facts are the facts, and the guy cannot be trusted to be consistently a good performer, he just can’t. Please, for the love of God, stop drinking the Kool-Aid. If I see one more Twitter report that Juventus is considering bringing him back because, ‘Hey! He’s so damn flexible!’ I will lose it.
Making the hard seem harder
In a vain — and probably doomed if precedent tells us anything — effort to shed some pandemic pounds and get in really good shape for a wedding that’s happening in a few months your boy has foolishly signed up for Crossfit lessons.
(Yes, a lot of it is because I want to look really good in a suit/business wear because of the aforementioned wedding and at work which is no longer remote. And let me tell you, there is no worse place on earth than sitting in an office getting inundated with emails while also being uncomfortable as all hell in freaking slacks and a button down that refuses to have just a tiny bit of goddamn stretch.)
I struggle mightily, I’m always tired and everything hurts which the preposterously fit people that attend the gym continuously maintain its a good thing. The thing I struggle with the most is the very Crossfit specific moves that I’m not familiar with, like the Turkish Get-Up. Here, allow this very jacked lady to show you:
Does that seem unnecessarily complicated? Do you think this is just adding steps to something that is already hard on its own? You, my hypothetical friend, are correct.
And sometimes, watching Juventus is a bit like doing a bunch of Turkish Get-Ups — Italian Get-Ups, if you will — unnecessarily making things a lot freakin’ harder than they need to be. This is a game that they should have won, plain and simple. They are a better team than Sassuolo, they actually had a few decent chances, they have better players and they continue to lose in this fashion constantly.
At a point in the season where the margin of error in Serie A is becoming narrower and narrower, you cannot call yourself a serious contender and then lose to freakin Sassuolo at home.
(How many times have we heard the phrase “For the first time ever, insert team here, wins at Juventus Stadium!” in the last couple of years?)
Trying to predict what happens next for this squad is impossible. I can see them taking this one on the chin, building on their decent form of the last 10 games or so and mount a title challenge. I can also very easily envision a redux of last year in which the team takes two steps forwards and one backwards for a whole season and we are sitting here in 2022 still talking about how they need a better midfield.
Winner: Kaio Jorge
Is Kaio Jorge the best young striker in the world? Some people — me — are saying it.
What a turn of events for young Kaio, huh? A couple of weeks ago there were reports galore that Juve was looking to loan the guy out in January. Now, they are turning to him in need for a goal late. And to his credit, he did pretty well.
The way his signing was treated and reported, it really felt like the guy was very, very raw and was a long way from even sniffing minutes for Juve. Yet, I saw a guy that, at worst, was unafraid of the moment and looked like he belonged.
It’s been a while since a young guy has broken into the squad and given the fans something to root for. Consider me the conductor of the Kaio Jorge bandwagon starting right this second.
Parting Shot of the Week
The good — or bad — thing is that Juventus has a quick turnaround as they prepare to face Hellas Verona on Saturday.
With a number of guys — specifically Manuel Locatelli — looking absolutely exhausted, Max Allegri will have some decisions to make in regards to squad rotation. Do you press on with your first choice guys at the risk of burning them out even more? Do you rotate and put in a squad full of bench players when you don’t really have a lot of leeway in terms of points in Serie A?
Like I said, for the team that once upon a time everything came easy, recent times have been anything but.
See you Saturday.