You will be happy to know that there was no need for Hamza Rafia in this game against Genoa. There was no need for late-game heroics by anybody. There was no need to really stress much at all in the last portions of the game, too.
And that was thanks to what Juve did in the opening 45 minutes.
Sure, it wasn’t completely smooth sailing in the early stages of the second half after Genoa cut the Juventus lead in half. But once Juventus was able to keep things in control rather than seeing the visitors tie things up in the same way they did when the two clubs met in the Coppa Italia earlier this season, then things were a lot smoother of sailing. And it always helps when Weston McKennie can come on and make the kind of instant impact he’s been known to do off the bench, scoring a mighty nice goal to seal Juventus’ 3-1 win over Genoa on Sunday afternoon to cap a pretty good week for Andrea Pirlo and his under-fire squad.
That makes it two very important wins and two solid performances to go with them.
That’s not something that we’ve been able to say a lot this season.
So maybe, just maybe, with all of the B.S. going on in the Italian press in regard to Andrea Pirlo’s status as manager as well as plenty of rumors about a whole lot of players on the squad, it’s something that they’ve been able to rally around and try to turn it into a positive.
Even if that’s not the case and this is simply Pirlo’s squad playing well because they’re having things go their way for the first time in a long time, Juve’s answered the call in their last two games. They got the win against Napoli midweek, and now they were able to build off what they did Wednesday night and get a second straight win in a row following the disappointing performance in the Turin derby to come out of the international break.
They’ve done them in the same kind of way as well: getting an early lead and then holding off any kind of second-half comeback bid by the opposition only to add a late goal to seal the deal. This time, it was Dejan Kulusevski and Alvaro Morata getting the first-half goals, which obviously set an impressive tone for Juventus as they came out and started this game about as well as they have in weeks — if not longer than that — to build their 2-0 lead.
That proved to be enough even as Genoa put Juve’s defense under pressure in the early stages of the second half. And maybe at other points of the season this team would have completely wilted a1nd allowed Genoa to tie the game like what happened in the Coppa Italia. But that didn’t happen, and Juve’s got another three points because of it.
Two wins in a row don’t mean that this team is turning a corner or anything close to it. We’ve seen too many times this season that things can turn in a completely opposite direction from week to week as this squad continues to search for consistency. But for one week at least, they had a good stretch and now try to continue to keep the good times going.
That’s a lot better than what we could have said last weekend, and for that I am thankful.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- That was ... pretty good?
- Like, I know I’m only working on a couple hours of sleep so my mind might be thrown off a little more than it usually is, but that was ... enjoyable?
- That’s two Juventus games that have been mostly positive viewing?
- I really don’t understand this and will now stop writing these thoughts like it’s an old school conversation on AIM with a college buddy who’s all of two dorm rooms down the hall.
- This 3-4-3-ish type of formation Pirlo has been using lately is very intriguing. I would be perfectly OK with seeing more of it going forward the next couple of weeks.
- Federico Chiesa had one of those boneheaded decision making moments and I honestly think it’s the first mistake he’s made in three or four months. Or at least that’s what it feels like because he’s been so good over that length of time.
- And you better believe Chiesa’s reaction to that mistake on that counterattack was hilarious because all Chiesa reactions are hilarious whether they’re meant to or not.
- Last point on Chiesa: The pure speed he’s showing at this point of the season with all of the minutes he’s played — especially lately — continues to be impressive as hell. He’s turning simple dribbles into dangerous counterattacks because he’s capable of blowing right past opposing players. It’s super impressive to see that amount of acceleration.
- Cristiano Ronaldo had one of Juve’s best WhoScored ratings in this game. He was definitely NOT one of Juventus’ best players against Genoa. Therefore, sometimes the WhoScored algorithm and who things are calculated over on that corner of the internet don’t make sense.
- Very good to see Secret Agent Marko Pjaca coming up big and not scoring a goal even though he had a couple of really good chances to do so after coming on in the second half.
- There were a few pieces in the Italian media (namely La Gazzetta dello Sport) before the game that hinted at Nicolo Rovella potentially being a midfield option next season and that Sunday’s game was a chance to impress against the club that acquired him in the winter transfer window. As it turned out, Rovella showed that he is still a very young work in progress and could very well be seeing Juan Cuadrado haunting him in his dreams. Kid’s got talent, but let’s just slow the roll on him being a contributor a little bit.
- Speaking of Juan Cuadrado, the role he played in setting up Dejan Kulusevski for Juve’s opener was absolutely beautiful. What a season he’s having. He’s got all the assists, man. All of them.
- That finish from Kulusevski ... that was early-season Dejan right there. It was confident and oozed with a nonchalant kind of approach to it. You better believe the young Swede needed that just to try and finish these last few weeks of the 2020-21 season on a high note.
- Wojciech Szczesny, a week removed from a very bad game against Torino, was pretty damn solid in goal against Genoa on Sunday. That’s what you want to see. No lingering effects here, folks.
- Gianluca Scamacca is a very large human being and not properly marking him results in what he did to score Genoa’s loan goal. (And hey, Rovella got the assist, so take that.)
- Giorgio Chiellini has now played a full 90 minutes three times in the span of nine days. Considering who we are talking about here and how old he is and the state of his body a good portion of the season, that’s pretty impressive. Good on him, and Juve’s defense is obviously better for it.
- Personal opinion: I like when Juventus wins AND plays well while doing so. I know, I know, that’s a controversial take, but I don’t apologize for it. I will stand by it 100 percent.