Leave it to the guy who is viewed as one of the biggest building blocks for the next Juventus era giving this iteration one last trophy.
It was Freddy Church time.
And boy did he answer the call again.
Federico Chiesa’s 73rd-minute winner was the capper on an absolutely quality second-half showing from Juventus that allowed the Bianconeri to fend off high-flying Atalanta and claim a 2-1 win in Wednesday night’s Coppa Italia final at the Mapei Stadium. It was one of the best 45 minutes that we’ve seen this Juventus team, one that still doesn’t know if it will be playing Champions League football next season, over the course of the last couple of months. And to do it against a team like Atalanta, that had so many weapons on the field and was arguably the better team in the first half ... yeah, that’s something to be happy about.
Same goes for fans back in the stands for the first time in months.
Same goes for Juventus beating a really good team.
Same goes for Gigi Buffon, our beloved Dad in goal, getting one last trophy before he heads off into the sunset and decides on his future in a few weeks.
And above all else, Juventus gets a trophy with a win over a really good team.
I’m not necessarily sure I was thinking that was going to happen in the hours and minutes leading up to kickoff, but this team did it with a second half that was resembling the kind of ball that Andrea Pirlo has wanted to play all season long. They were high-energy, they pressed, they were able to lots of pace — that was, in a nutshell, what Pirlo wanted. It just so happened in a game where it would have made a whole lot of sense to try and hit Atalanta on the counter and try to absorb the pressure in the same kind of fashion that Juve did when they made their trip to the Mapei last week and beat Sassuolo.
But this was different. A good kind of different, too.
Does it suck that we’re seeing this now rather than, say, February or March when points were still being dropped left and right and they were stumbling out of the Scudetto race once and for all? Well, of course. Eleven times out of 10 I would prefer Juve look like this more often than not and not have to go into the final weekend of the season with their Champions League status completely up in the air and dependent on other results just as much as their own.
For one day, though, Juventus showed what it can do when things are going right.
And it just so happened to come in a cup final when they needed it most.
We’ll worry about the weekend over the weekend and whatever happens will be dissected nth degree for the following days.
But this I know is true regardless of what happens this weekend: There will be a patch on next season’s kit that debuted tonight. It won’t be the first choice of a patch, but it’s a patch nonetheless. And that, my friends, is better than nothing at all.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Seeing this dude celebrate like this never gets old:
- Juventus hasn’t lost a game with that guy in goal this season. They haven’t won them all, but they haven’t lost a single one. That, I gotta say, is pretty impressive for a guy who, at this age, would normally be taking his coaching badge lessons at Coverciano right now.
- Giorgio Chiellini let Buffon lift the trophy. God, if you weren’t a little teary already, that might have pushed you over the edge.
- Say what you want about the performance that Andrea Pirlo has done as manager this season — and there’s obviously been plenty said already — but seeing him celebrate with each and every player the way he did put a smile on my face. You can clearly see just how much this season has worn him down — just look at those bags under his eyes, folks — but to see him about as pumped as anybody not named Gigi Buffon was fun. Good on you, Maestro.
- My word that finish on Dejan Kulusevski’s opener. He loves that spot of the penalty area where he can just bend the absolute crap out of the ball to the back post. And he did so there.
- Dejan Kulusevski, an Atalanta youth product, to the Atalanta fans: “SHHHHHHH!!!”
- Federico Chiesa’s celebration after his goal was somewhat out of the Kulusevski arsenal where there wasn’t much celebrating going on. When you score that pretty of a goal, you can do whatever the hell you want, but that’s just my view on things.
- Also, Kulusevski’s pass to Chiesa to set up said game-winning goal, that was pretty nice, too.
- One last note on Kulusevski: Finishing the season like he is has to do wonders for his confidence going into the summer with Sweden at the Euros.
- The toe poke-ish kind of pass to Kulusevski from Weston McKennie was pretty nifty.
- Adrien Rabiot’s shielding of the ball on what turned into Atalanta’s goal a few seconds later ... not great, Bob.
- Based on who scored the last time Juventus and Atalanta played, of course Ruslan Malinovskiy scores against Juve again. I mean, of course he did.
- Giorgio Chiellini, a man who did not have a good game against Inter Milan over the weekend, had a much better game — while on a yellow, no less — in this one. Some of those thumping clearances in the last couple of minutes must have felt so good.
- Cristian Romero has had a very good season with Atalanta, but boy does he still show signs of being such a raw talent that needs to tighten things up when it comes to his technical ability. That yellow card he got ... woof.
- Here is one final tweet for you to admire. Goodnight, everybody.
Buffon has won six Coppe Italia in three different decades (90s, 10s, 20s) with his first one alongside Enrico Chiesa and his last one with his son, Federico.— Joe Pagnelli (@joepagnelli) May 19, 2021