I wouldn’t have held it against you if you entered Tuesday night’s game with Salernitana with absolutely not expectations whatsoever. It’s just the kind of situation that Juventus finds itself in, and with the last week the club has had it’s not like the Bianconeri are doing much of anything to have inspired much confidence at all.
And to be honest, I was right there along with ya, folks.
The good news in this is that Juventus didn’t see its terrible week extend any further. While Tuesday night’s 2-0 win over Salernitana wasn’t a dominant, runaway kind of performance a lot of us would have liked — if not for the post this game would have been tied in the second half! — but it was, thankfully, not another outing in which Juve dropped points against a team that is in a relegation zone. And considering the week that Juventus had last week, getting a solid yet not spectacular win — hell, getting a win period — was what this team needed to hopefully put what happened the last few times they stepped onto the field truly behind them.
There was also this: Max Allegri, the man who has been rather hard-headed with his tactics so far this season, rolled out a 4-2-3-1 for the first time since he returned to Juventus.
That was something that was completely unexpected.
And, at times, it truly looked like something that benefited Juventus. It wasn’t always something that was easy on the eyes. There’s still very much some things to be worked out and obviously a ways to go before things are truly humming and inspiring some major confidence, but it’s a start. And hopefully it’s a start that lasts a little bit because, as we look at how this season has progressed, Allegri being conservative with his tactics was something that was becoming more and more of an issue.
Now, with the 4-2-3-1 in play, maybe we see Juve’s attack create a little bit more and alleviate some of the need to just continuously try and grind out result after result.
Juventus weren’t forced to chase this game at all — and that was especially truly when Paulo Dybala opened the scoring in the first half with one of the better goals Juve’s scored this season. And while it took a while to double the lead — thanks to VAR and some shoddy finishing — Alvaro Morata was able to do that in the 70th minute. It was one of the few times this season that Juve’s score more than one goal in a Serie A game — which, as we know, something you never want to say as you’re just a few hours away from the start of December.
It should have been 2-0 earlier than with 20 minutes remaining. We all know that — especially with how defensive Salernitana was playing for much of the night. But, with some help from the post, Juve were never in the position of trying to find a winner late in the game like they’ve been forced to do (by their own doing, too) in other games this season.
This won’t go down as a vintage performance by any means, especially when it came against the club that is currently sitting at the bottom of the Serie A table.
But it’s a win — and that’s something we haven’t seen a lot of lately no matter if it’s a club sitting mid-table in Serie A or the the reigning Champions League winners.
It’s more than we can say for what Juve was able to do last week, that’s for sure.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- NO, SERIOUSLY. THE 4-2-3-1 HAPPENED. LOOK, LOOK, LOOK!
- Now, please, Max, give the 4-2-3-1 a chance to develop into something. You’ve got a squad that is crying out for it and it can be something that could change your squad’s fortunes for the better. We know the 4-4-2 ain’t it, and the 4-2-3-1 plays more into Juve’s strengths. (Now that I’ve said this I fully expect the 4-4-2 to be back against Genoa over the weekend.)
- As much as I adore Federico Chiesa, I am very much OK with Dejan Kulusevski getting some consistent run out wide on the right if the 4-2-3-1 becomes a thing. Let the kid play, Max.
- I mean, playing with two actual wingers in a formation that requires wingers makes sense, right? Right.
- This was the first time that Dybala and Morata have scored in the same game since ... October 2015! Seriously! (I couldn’t believe it either when I first saw it.)
- Now we see if Morata’s goal either kick-starts some kind of positive form or just ends up being a blip on the radar for the Spaniard. He’s extremely hot or cold this season, and this could — a lot like the team — start to be a turning point or just a continuation of what we’ve seen for the last three months.
- Dybala officially matched his goal tally from last season with Juve’s opener Tuesday night. Too bad he fell flat on his ass and skied his penalty kick attempt right before the final whistle or else that goal tally would be looking a little better.
- Speaking of something related to that Dybala PK: Seeing Matias Soule come on the field to essentially watch his countryman attempt to score from the spot and that’s it is hilarious. Or, I should say “hilarious” in that it’s disappointing that this will be marked as his senior team debut and he played about 15 seconds. Maybe next time you’ll get to touch the ball, kiddo.
- Manuel Locatelli had 75 touches just a few minutes into the second half. Seriously.
- Locatelli finished with 121 passes. Salernitana had 261 passes as a team. If only Juve had more midfielders with the passing ability of Locatelli and maybe we all wouldn’t be watching this mess week after week.
- Rodrigo Bentancur also completed 121 passes Tuesday night. But I feel safe in saying that most of those completed passes didn’t have the same kind of degree of difficulty that Locatelli’s did. Bentancur is still giving the ball away way too often.
- On the other side of things, Juventus didn’t complete a successful cross in eight attempts in the first half. That’s not good.
- Remember Vincenzo Fiorillo? The former hotshot goalkeeper with Sampdoria who was one of the long list of “Next Buffon” prospects in Italy? Well he’s now 31 years old and serving as Salernitana’s backup goalkeeper. I didn’t know that until about two minutes before kickoff.
- This wasn’t great. It was far from “great” or anything close to it. But it’s a win and I will take it as such. It’s three points and it’s a game in which Allegri changed his tactical setup in a major kind of way. That’s the biggest thing to take out of this. Now we see if it continues.