The fears were legitimate — and not just because the fog at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara on Saturday night was preventing us all from seeing a lot of what was going on between Juventus and Bologna.
After getting an early lead and playing rather well for the first 30 minutes or so, Max Allegri was looking like he was ready to do Max Allegri things. That is, After starting with its foot fairly well down on the pedal, Juventus eased up on the gas and looked to do the same thing it did last weekend in Venice — sit back, absorb pressure while up 1-0 and look to counterattack. It was, for a good portion of the second half,
Then Juan Cuadrado came to the rescue.
And man, was Johnny Square giving Juventus some breathing room a welcome sight.
Cuadrado’s latest goal didn’t have the late-game heroics as the last time he found the back of the net, but his nice deflection-aided strike in the 69th minute allowed Juve to get a much-needed second goal against a Bologna team that is known for its second-half scoring and allowed Juventus to claim a 2-0 win in the final away fixture of 2021. Combine Juve’s win with Atalanta getting thumped by Roma, and now the gap between Allegri’s squad and Napoli in fourth place is down to a much more manageable — albeit temporary based on Sunday’s results — five points.
There weren’t many style points with this one.
It’s not exactly like Allegri set out to get a whole lot of style points.
But the main thing is that three points were collected, and that they won’t be in the same kind of situation that they were last weekend when they were heading back to Turin.
That’s basically the way Juventus is going to have to win at this point. With their best attackers out and the rest of the team having so much fluidity due to injuries and players simply being out of form, Juventus trying to grind out wins is basically the only way you feel like this team can go at the moment. Sure, they’ve now won five of their last seven Serie A matches, but it’s not like they’re doing it in any kind of impressive fashion. It’s a lot of 1-0 or 2-0 wins — which tells you the defense has been solid, but it’s not like they’re just having easy night after easy night.
Right now, Juventus needs points more than anything. So if getting wins like this one where you see Juve walk the tightrope between a 1-0 lead and allowing Bologna to potentially tie the game, that’s just going to be the norm, if it isn’t already. It’s three points, but it’s not three points that we’ll be talking about weeks from now.
Or at least I think they won. Sometimes it was hard to tell they were on the field while wearing their mostly white kits in the fog. That was not a fun experience.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Fog + pre-game flares in the curva = pretty cool visuals as the teams walked out of the tunnel. See for yourself, folks ...
- That’s just a completely badass picture and there’s nothing you can say to tell me otherwise. If only the actual viewing experience — like, you know, being able to see what was happening on the field — was as good as that picture above. And I was watching on a 50-inch TV, too! (Slight flex, but whatever.)
- Could this be the start of some good form for Alvaro Morata? With his goal Saturday night, that’s three in five games. Throw in an assist on Cuadrado’s goal and Morata has started to do some things that he didn’t do for much of the last three months — and that’s get on the scoresheet. Maybe, just maybe, this is a positive sign. It’s at least better than what we saw for pretty much all of October and November.
- Also, the simple numbers don’t necessarily suggest it or confirm it, but Matthijs de Ligt was just a freakin’ wall in this game and there is no other way to describe it. Dude was damn good against Bologna. Really damn good.
- Six clearances for Leonardo Bonucci. That’ll play.
- Federico Bernardeschi with another assist — and it was a pretty one, too. Guess who’s now one assist behind Paulo Dybala, the team leader? That would be Federico Bernardeschi.
- The match commentator here in the U.S. kept talking about how good of a game Arthur had as he made way for Manuel Locatelli in the second half. I’m still trying to decide if Arthur actually did have as good of a game. as he made it sound like. He did some good things, but it’s just so tough to see him just not do much with his passing. Who knows. Maybe it was the fog.
- Gary Medel — once an Inter player, always an Inter player. You’ll never get that stink off when you play the way he does.
- Hopefully, hopefully, hopefully Luca Pellegrini having to be subbed out due to injury does come to be much. But it definitely did not look like the young Italian was feeling good at all in the moments before Alex Sandro came on for him.
- Bologna and Juventus were even on the shot chart with 11 apiece, but the former only put three on frame. Wojciech Szczesny only had to make one real big-time save — and man, it was a damn good one. That was from a tight angle and Tek played it perfectly and thankfully didn’t allow a juicy rebound for any Bologna player to potentially put in to tie things up.
- I wouldn’t mind seeing Moise Kean play in a more wider position a little bit more often. He’s certainly not a prototypical No. 9, so maybe playing wide-ish is something that will allow him to thrive a little bit more. You just wish he was able to get more than the 21 touches he got against Bologna.
- This was a Weston McKennie kind of game, and he was pretty solid in his return from injury. He did his usual ton of running, made some good tackles and then got carded for sticking up for Morata after Medel and Co. fouled him. I’ll take it.
- Very happy Juventus held onto its lead this time around. I don’t know what I would have done if Juve blew a lead right by the ocean one weekend and then did the same thing in the fog the next weekend. Sure makes for a very nervy December, that’s for sure.