This was a flashback to October and November. This wasn’t a continuation of the good results that Juventus had been racking up in recent weeks entering their trip to Naples. This was a trip back to the weeks of the fall where Juventus frustrated the living hell out of us all.
I didn’t like those months all that much.
And I didn’t like Saturday night’s trip to Naples all that much, either.
Juventus created more scoring chances. They had more of the possession. They were the better side for large portions of this game, especially in the second half as Napoli dropped virtually everybody back to try and defend. But for all of the chasing that Juventus did, all that was there to show for it was a tough 1-0 loss to a Napoli side that could very well have been playing for their manager’s job on Saturday night. This wasn’t like the Supercoppa three weeks ago where Juventus was in relative control and had Napoli chasing the game. Instead, Juventus were forced to do something that they hadn’t done in weeks following Lorenzo Insigne’s first-half penalty kick — try and fight back to flip the score.
Juve had the chances to score but were either off the mark, offside or simply denied by Alex Meret, who wasn’t even supposed to start this game when the lineups were first announced. (Thanks for getting injured, David Ospina. Really appreciate that.) By the sheer volume of scoring chances in the second half alone you would have though that Juve would have ended this game on a number other than zero on the scoreboard.
But a couple of shots right at Meret and a few nice saves by the young Italian keeper later and this is where we are.
Juventus are still seven points behind league leaders AC Milan and hoping that they get some help later in the day from ...
... oh, it’s Spezia. Good times.
So this Saturday just got a lot better.
Maybe Juventus were due one of these kinds of performances after the last three or four weeks worth of solid showings, I dunno. Maybe it’s just simple enough to chalking it up to being one of those days in front of goal where no matter what you try nothing good is going to come of it despite who is the one attempting the shots. After games like these, sometimes it’s hard for the brain to really put two and two together and truly figure out why Juventus could outshoot Napoli 22-8 and get shutout by a team that was starting its second-string central defenders. It wasn’t like Napoli was anything close to being dominant in defense, let’s be real.
Yet, despite all of that, Napoli won. Juventus got skunked. And now we’re sitting here again wondering just what the next few weeks have in store because of this setback.
I don’t know if this loss will be the official nail in the coffin of Juventus’ Scudetto chances. Lord knows we’ve been down that road before this season and then a week later it changes. But I do know that Juventus had a really good chance to keep the good times going against an opponent that was coming into the game in far worse shape than the Bianconeri.
So, of course, after 90 minutes, it’s the underdog that was barely hanging on to sixth place in the standings that came out with a win. That’s why this has the feeling of a result we saw from Juventus in the October and November stretches of games. (Hell, throw December in there, too.) Just when I was starting to really feel good about Juve again, this stupid result happens and everything gets thrown off course again.
That’s just perfect for this 2020-21 season where logic and reasoning can just be thrown completely out of the window sometimes.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Halftime thought: I think my cat had more time on the ball than Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata in the first half. Hard for your two best goal scorers to do much of anything when they barely have the ball at their feet for 45 minutes.
- Full time thought: Well, that sucked even with Ronaldo and Morata being much more involved in the second half as compared to the first half. Blah.
- Ronaldo finished the game with nine shots.
- Napoli finished the game with eight shots.
- Morata and Federico Chiesa each had four key passes.
- Napoli, as a team, had four key passes.
- Gonna steal an in-game comment from our boy Hunter: The compilation of shot and cross attempts from Federico Bernardeschi over the last season and a half must be an absolute doozy of a watch. Just the definition of ineffective contributions on offense.
- Giorgio Chiellini has to know better than everybody that if you’ve got your arms flailing all over the place and you smack somebody in the face then there’s a risk of bad things happening. Of course bad things happened and that’s the difference on the scoreboard.
- That’s the tough part about this game because outside of that one mistake Chiellini was pretty damn good once again. But, the thing is, that one mistake proved to be one of the biggest moments of the game, and the best chance at getting a goal that Napoli had.
- Seriously, Wojciech Szczesny made one save in this game and I don’t even remember it.
- That had to be one of Juan Cuadrado’s quietest games in weeks, if not longer than that.
- It’s going to be an interesting few weeks as we wait to hear what will happen with Arthur and how it will affect Juventus’ midfield. There’s very few options to rotate now unless Andrea Pirlo decides to hand Nicolo Faglioli some playing time and the guy who was becoming Juve’s best option at regista is out for an unknown amount of time. We’ll see how this goes.
- That’s not to say that Rodrigo Bentancur and Adrien Rabiot played poorly against Napoli on Saturday night, but Arthur’s pre-injury form was giving the midfield a much-needed dynamic. Now we wait and see to what happens with Arthur’s injury and what Pirlo has in store to try and keep the unit from becoming a massive liablity again.
- Of course in the game where we finally get to see Giorgio Chiellini and Matthijs de Ligt start alongside one another it happens in the same game where a defensive error is one of the biggest talking points and Juve’s attack completely misfires. Oh well.
- That’s all from me today. I’m going to go watch a bunch of puppy videos now to try and cheer up. Maybe you should, too.