Simply a “thank goodness” for the fact that Juventus, despite the players’ best efforts to extend the scoreline, didn’t throw away the 1-0 lead even though they allowed Genoa to hang around a whole lot longer than any of us would have liked.
But once Paulo Dybala’s shot in the 82nd minute hit the back of the net, there was a collective exhale both in the crowd on a near-freezing night at Allianz Stadium, but also from anybody who has black and white rooting interests. It was a goal, Dybala’s fifth this season, that secured a 2-0 win over Genoa on Sunday night and allowed Juventus to get a full six points out of six points a week after they came away with no points and looked pretty lost as a team.
A week later, they’ve won two games against opponents in the relegation zone to begin a soft spot in the schedule and jumped up to fifth place in the standings.
Not exactly where we had hoped Juve would be come the first weekend of December, but it’s a little better than how things have been looking.
Of course, this was a game that should have never been 1-0 heading into the final 10 minutes. As much as Juve were creating following Juan Cuadrado’s olimpico goal in the first half, the second goal was looking like it was impossible to actually score. They missed some chances, too, but a lot of it simply had to do with a 34-year-old Salvatore Sirigu turning back the years and looking like prime Stefano Sorrentino any time he played against Juventus.
Because of that, it was the kind of game where we all knew Juventus shouldn’t be ahead by just one goal for pretty much the entire second half until Dybala’s breakthrough.
And then ... exhale.
Ah, sweet exhale. It was needed.
There was no reason for that game to be as close as it was even though Juventus were dominating both the possession and the amount of scoring chances being created. Nights like that will always happen, but the situation is always going to be even that much more under the microscope and cause a little — or, with the sense you got from the Allianz Stadium crowd, a lot — more stress and anxiety because Juve’s in need of points in the worst possible and can’t afford to drop points again to a very bad team domestically.
Thankfully, dropping points didn’t happen.
Juventus beat a team in the relegation zone for the second time in the matter of days.
This isn’t a cause to celebrate, but it’s nice to see them take care of business with a decent performance to go with it. Juventus is officially undefeated since Max Allegri switched to the 4-2-3-1 formation, and that’s more than we can say for the 4-4-2 or the uber-conservative approach Allegri was taking earlier this season.
Small steps before the big steps, folks. And these steps are small, but they’re ones in the right direction. And that’s something to be thankful for as well.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Juan Cuadrado couldn’t have struck that ball any better on that olimpico, huh? That was about as perfectly placed as could be. (And who knows if that was the original plan all along. Paulo Dybala said after the final whistle he thought it was by mistake.)
- Juventus had 69 percent possession the first half.
- Andriy Shevchenko has been Genoa’s manager for four games now. Genoa have yet to score a goal in those four games.
- They’re a bad team overall, but man did Genoa miss Nicolo Rovella in this game. It also woulda been nice to see the kid go up against Manuel Locatelli, but that was never going to happen after Rovella came out injured midweek against AC Milan.
- Something tells me Dejan Kulusevski likes playing out wide on the right in the 4-2-3-1 as compared to his previous excursions as a makeshift striker. You know, where he’s meant to play rather than the alternative.
- Very glad that we got the chance to watch Kaio Jorge come as a sub ... in the 89th minute.
- Surely the Italian press is not going to make a big deal out of Alvaro Morata and Max Allegri getting into it a little bit after the Spaniard was subbed out in the second half. Guessing everything will be calm, cool and collected and there will be no speculating at all because the Italian press never, ever does that sort of stuff.
- To be fair, you gotta feel Morata. He’s obviously in a tough run of form, he could have had a couple of goals if not for Sirigu making a couple of fantastic saves and the frustration was evident after he got shown a yellow. And then it was obvious when Allegri said something to him after he came off. Just a frustrating day (and last couple of months) for Juve’s No. 9.
- Seriously, though, freakin’ Sirigu, man. Why couldn’t he have just signed as Juve’s backup this summer so that this kind of thing wouldn’t have happened against Juventus.
- Federico Bernardeschi — Juve’s key pass leader against Genoa. He got an assist, too.
- Who also had a solid number of key passes in this game? Kulusevski and Morata. Who knew.
- A game after recording a whopping 120 passes, Manuel Locatelli had 94 more against Genoa. Again, he’s got experience in a 4-2-3-1 and it suits him well, so this setup from Allegri is nothing new for him. And, as you can see, he clearly does well as one of the offensive hubs. I know I say it a lot in these posts, but some of the passes Locatelli completed were just flat-out pretty.
- Personally, I feel like the 4-2-3-1 should stick around for a while.
- Like, seriously, I know we’re all a little surprised that it took this long to make the switch, but this team just looks so much more solid going forward now that they’re playing with two actual wingers that can run at the opposing defense. I know those opposing defenses are not very good AT ALL, but you can’t control who you play, you just gotta make sure you win those games in front of you. And since the 4-2-3-1 came into play, Juve’s done that.
- Wojciech Szczesny touched the ball 25 times and didn’t have to make a single save Sunday night, only hauling a few crosses here and there. That’s something we haven’t written much at all both this season and last. I like when that kind of stuff happens no matter what kind of form Tek is in at the time.
- By contrast, Sirigu made 10 saves, with a large portion of them really freakin’ good.
- No Stefano Sturaro, no party. Sorry, Genoa.
- Fifth place. Europa League place. Talk it into existence.