When Juventus falls behind in the way that they did Saturday night, it’s impossible not to have the “Here we go again...” thoughts fire into your brain almost immediately. It’s been a season of mistakes and lost opportunities, with a good portion of the harm that Juventus has suffered being of the self-inflicted kind like how Lazio found themselves in front.
But in other games where we haven’t seen Juve rebound after the damage is done, this time they took it to their opponent.
Even with Serie A refereeing being as confusing as ever at times, Juventus picked themselves up off the mat after falling behind 1-0 and recorded one of their best wins of the 2020-21 season Saturday night. Thanks to a pair of Alvaro Morata second-half goals within the span of three minutes, Juventus turned the scoreline fully in their favor and recorded 3-1 victory over a Lazio side that had completely stolen a point from the Italian champions the last time the two teams met in Rome earlier this season.
It was far from how you wanted to start a match, but Andrea Pirlo’s squad certainly got better — and the more impressive — as the time went on. That’s especially the case after Adrien Rabiot tied it with an absolutely brilliant goal right before halftime to tie things up.
Then again, maybe we should have expected this game to be the way it played out when we saw that Danilo was playing in the midfield and Juve was in a 4-2-3-1 of sorts once things kicked off.
Seriously, Danilo. As a midfielder. First Danilo becoming a key component to the defense, and now this development? That sure is something I didn’t expect back in September, and neither did you. But it’s also a sign of just how shorthanded Juve were heading into Saturday night’s game, with only one central midfielder, Rabiot, truly in contention to start.
With Cristiano Ronaldo rested as Pirlo clearly had Tuesday’s Champions League showdown with Porto clearly in mind, the onus was on Morata to do what he did just a few days earlier against Spezia and be the focal point of the attack. Sure, it took a while for Juve’s attack to truly get going, but when things clicked, the results followed. This wasn’t a game where Juve simply took advantage of the volume of shots they had; Lazio had twice as many shots as Juventus did Saturday night. But Juve were clinical with the chances they had.
And that counterattack that Morata and Federico Chiesa combined on for the go-ahead goal ... well, that was just a thing of beauty and about as perfectly executed as it could have been. Then Aaron Ramsey wins a penalty two minutes later, Morata slots it home and the game is completely flipped in Juventus’ favor.
All of this as Ronaldo was warming up on the sidelines. That’s gotta dent the “Juve can’t do it without Ronaldo” narrative at least a little bit ... right?
Alvaro Morata has been directly involved in 15 goals in Serie A this season (7 goals, 8 assists), already more than he registered with Atletico from last term (14).— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 6, 2021
He's had a hand in all three for Juve so far tonight. pic.twitter.com/brHEX2H5Mk
This was a win that Juventus needed in more ways than one. Hell, it’s a list that is probably getting pretty long as to why it was so important — especially after falling behind in the manor that they did. But, even after the disappointing start that involved being on the wrong side of a 1-0 scoreline, Juventus got right and did what they needed to do to turn things around. That’s not something we can say about things for much of the season.
This time, though, Pirlo’s Juve showed us a few things. Good things, I might add.
Also: I enjoyed Felipe Caicedo coming onto the field and not pissing me off like he did in November. That was nice, and it meant Juventus actually beat Lazio this time. Good times.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- You’re telling me that handball no-call in the box wasn’t even enough to look at on VAR? That just shows you how absolutely broken Serie A refereeing currently is.
- If there’s one thing the no-call did provide was the chance for all of us watching at home to hear loud and clear Carlo Pinsoglio absolutely berate the officials from the Juve bench for more than just a couple of minutes. I think he made his opinion known.
- Merih Demiral’s defending on Lazio’s opening goal left a lot to be desired.
- But, I gotta say, the turnover from Dejan Kulusevski was even worse. That just can’t happen.
- Adrien Rabiot’s left-footed bullet was Juve’s first shot on target in the game. Not bad.
- Too bad that first shot on goal from a Juve player took nearly the entire first half, but still, pretty good strike, right? (Things worked out pretty well, though.)
- Pepe Reina got beat at the near post by Rabiot, got beat at the near post by Morata and then guessed wrong on Morata’s penalty kick. It’s obviously not on him as to why those goals were scored, but man that’s rough as a keeper when you can’t really do much of anything on any of the goals your team allows.
- Federico Bernardeschi is making this sudden transition to a fullback position look rather ... smart by Pirlo? This wasn’t the explosive kind of performance that he had earlier this week, but he was far from the Bernardeschi disaster zone that he has been for a good chunk of the season. Maybe, just maybe, he’s found a role that fits him on this team. (And good for him, because good things deserve to happen to good people.)
- Arthur back!
- Leonardo Bonucci back!
- I said it on Twitter after he came on, but I’ll repeat it here: Who knows if this means Arthur can start against Porto, but seeing him out there for the final 20 minutes is a big deal regardless. It wasn’t so long ago that we were thinking he could miss a whole lot more time than he did because of this injury situation he found himself in.
- Federico Chiesa — woof, he’s playing so damn well right now. I mean, when you’re getting shouted out by Claudio Marchisio on Twitter, you know you’re doing something right.
- I also enjoy that Claudio now live tweets the game with a lot of us. He’s a fan after all.
- Just like we all thought after Lazio scored: Juventus would score three unanswered goals and not have many nervy moments after going ahead. Yep, totally something that was easy to predict. This time has finally been figured out.
- Now go out and play like you did in the second half when Porto comes to Turin on Tuesday night and we’ll actually have a chance of talking about the Champions League beyond the next few days. Or at least talking about the Champions League in a somewhat-positive kind of manor.