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Manu’s Grab Bag: A cold, foggy night in Bologna

We talk weather hijinks, hat swagger, winning ugly and bandwagons.

Bologna FC v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

As Juventus start their last run of games before the holidays, it was imperative that they started it off right against fellow mid-tablers Bologna if they wanted to maintain their top 4 aspirations and their tiny, tiny, almost non-existent title hopes alive.

In a weird way, almost any match from now on is a must-win for this beleaguered Juve side. No matter the opponent. Thankfully, thanks to a couple of flashes of brilliance and Bologna mess-ups, the Bianconeri came ahead 2-0 on Saturday evening.

Because of the uniqueness of the weather — which we will talk about in a bit — it was a bit of a discombobulated type of game. But brilliant or not, Juventus needed the three points and they got them. You can’t ask for a lot more than that at the moment.

Let’s cook.

MVP: Matthijs de Ligt

Given the recent state of the club and due to the ridiculously foggy conditions at the Renato Dall’Ara, it almost seemed like a lock that Juventus would end up allowing a goal in a crucial moment thanks to some weather-induced hijinks. However, against all odds and thanks in large part to this match’s MVP, they didn’t.

De Ligt has not completely lived up to the expectations that many of the Juve faithful had for him when he was originally signed, but he has been — at worst — a pretty good defender. But when he has performances like this one here and there, that makes you remember how great he is when he’s performing at the top of his game.

(To be fair to de Ligt, those expectations were to become the best center back in the world — which, perhaps, might have been a bit too much pressure for a young guy making his first major career move.)

Either way, he was a wall all game long and was especially key in those iffy moments when Bologna looked like the more threatening side. The joie de vivre he exudes after every successful clearance is reminiscent of peak Giorgio Chiellini. The combination of devastating physical force but with enough finesse to cleanly defend is not something you see everyday.

Because he’s represented by the human embodiment of The Devil’s Advocate and due to the clubs underperformance and poor financial situation, de Ligt’s name will continue to be embroiled in transfer rumors for the foreseeable future. But if Juventus has any shred of bug club aura yet, they have to do everything in their power to keep him in Turin for the long haul.

Runner Up: Juan Cuadrado - Could have had a brace, but his goal to seal the deal was good enough to win the points on principle alone. Insane that this team has to rely on Cuadrado so often, but it is what it is and at least he delivers more times than not.

Can he do it on a cold, rainy night in Bologna?

In a London-style fog reminiscent of the Sherlock Holmes movies, the game went along on Saturday and it was a delight to watch.

I do mean “watch” figuratively, because for large stretches of the game, the far side of the pitch was completely covered in thick, gray fog that prevented yours truly — and I guess any other person watching the game on TV — to see anything that was happening.

My guess is that a similar problem was emerging on the pitch, as several Juve and Bologna players ended up missing seemingly easy balls into the fog and misplacing passes to players that were not there. To paraphrase a not particularly successful NFL quarterback, they were seeing ghosts out there.

I enjoy weird weather games when they happen on occasion. They add a level of unpredictability to the proceedings and make for a fun, weird atmosphere. That is, of course, as long as the weather does not randomly screw over the team I’m rooting for. IF that happens, I become a full-on dome truther and demand that the game be replayed due to the inhospitable conditions.


Winner: Siniša Mihajlović, Fashion Icon

Bologna FC v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images

This space has sung the praises of the Bologna coach due to his incredible headwear choices — and this game was no different.

Incredible beanie, but don’t sleep on the sneakers. Just an all around sublime performance from Siniša. Sure, his team might have lost, but I think we can all agree that at least he looked good doing it.

Just for fun, let’s throw it back to the GOAT look:

Bologna FC v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Danilo Di Giovanni/Getty Images

They should sell that cap in the team’s store, I’m not even joking.

Winner; Sergio Romero, Talent Evaluator

Look, I’m wrong often, I don’t sugarcoat it. I have stood behind some truly awful takes throughout the years, you can't win them all is what I’m saying.

So, when I’m actually right, you’ll excuse me if I throw myself a little bit of a parade, OK? And I called it, Luca Pellegrini is actually good!

The young Italian fullback got himself yet another start Saturday night and has continued to look better in the role than old veteran Alex Sandro. I don’t see a reason to not start Pellegrini the rest of the year as he has consistently been very good when given minutes.

Maurizio Sarri didn’t see it. Andrea Pirlo didn’t see it.

You know who did? Me and Max Allegri. That’s two top footballing minds right there.

(Also, Kaio Jorge looked good in the six-plus minutes he got. He should have gotten an assist in the dying minutes and in general should continue to get more minutes. If he pans out, you will not hear the end of it from this space. Believe that.)

Parting Shot of The Week

It wasn’t pretty, but it was just enough to get the result and it that’s not quintessential Max Allegri football I don't know what it.

They will have to continue to do this for the rest of the year and into the new year because thanks to injuries, a bad squad planning and overall ineffectiveness the best we can hope for a Juve fans right now is to win by whatever means necessary, style points be damned.

How’s that for a reason to look forward to the rest of the year, huh?

See you Tuesday.