For a club like Juventus, going into the fifth round of the new season without a win is something that is never — EVER! — part of the plan. It’s the opposite of the plan, and no matter how much a team is in transition, taking that long to get a win and dropping so many points in the process.
Ah, but what can we say after Wednesday has come and gone?
Juventus is no longer staring at a big fat zero in the win column against Serie A opposition. They did it, guys — Juventus has won a Serie A game for the first time this season! Get your champagne on ice or even out of the fridge because the long national wait is now over.
Of course, Juventus’ 3-2 win over Spezia was anything but routine or anything you want to see against a club that is not very good at all and might have one of the worst rosters in Italy’s top flight. But, as we know with Juventus these days, nothing is really all that easy. They blew one lead Wednesday night and almost blew another, only hanging on for dear life after Federico Chiesa and Matthijs de Ligt scored goals within a seven-minute span to flip the score back in Juve’s favor with less than 20 minutes to go.
Oh, and don’t forget Wojciech Szczesny’s big save in the dying minutes to keep Juve in front, too.
This was just a simple, stress-free win on the road.
Nothing major to see here ... except for the fact that the above sentence is being said totally in jest and this was far from anything you would consider “comfortable.”
It’s been 19 games since Juventus recorded a clean sheet against an opponent in Serie A. That’s a long, long time — and the worst part is, it doesn’t look like it’s going to end any time soon. And that’s why, even with Juventus in the lead with the clock charging toward the 90-minute mark and stoppage time, your boy was anything but confident things will hold steady. Call it the impact on my line of thinking thanks to how Juve’s started the 2021-22 season or how the last couple of years have gone on the whole.
In short: It wasn’t necessarily Juve cruising to the finish line in this one.
But, the biggest thing, is that they did it. They proved me wrong. They probably proved you wrong. Sweating out a potential win against a club like Spezia is never the ideal scenario, but sometimes you’ve just gotta deal with because that’s how Juventus’ season has gone.
Juventus have had 60% of possession Spezia tonight and three times as many shots, but the defending has been so bad that I honestly think they're lucky to have only conceded twice.— Nicky Bandini (@NickyBandini) September 22, 2021
If there is a tweet that better sums up how things went against Spezia, I’d love to see it. This one pretty much hits all the right notes — Juventus had a lot of the ball, they created a good amount of chances yet, because of the defensive struggles that continue to follow us along our right hips like a loyal puppy, nothing is going to be as simple as you want it to be. Or, in this case, Juventus was never going to fully put away Spezia because they never truly had control of the match despite being in the lead.
There’s another one of Juve’s problems.
And that’s why this season has gone the way it has.
They’ve got a win in Serie A, though. And that’s more than we could say yesterday — which is nice because it means they didn’t blow a lead. Well, like what happened Wednesday night, they didn’t blow a second lead. That would have been bad. Really, really bad.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- How good was Manuel Locatelli after he came on for Rodrigo Bentancur to begin the second half? That is what a quality midfielder looks like, and that is why Locatelli was so damn important to sign this summer.
- Getting beat at your near post like Szczesny did on Spezia’s second goal is one of the cardinal sins of being a goalkeeper, but the save Szczesny made at the end of the game to keep Juve in front was easily his best of the season. That’s good, and has to do wonders for his overall vibe.
- The bigger sin on Spezia’s second goal, though — Leonardo Bonucci’s defending. Not only did he get roasted for pace, but then he got absolutely turned around once he caught up to Emmanuel Gyasi. Not exactly how you want your defenders to defend, I’d say.
- At least Bonucci’s pass to Adrien Rabiot on Moise Kean’s goal was nice. Other than that ... meh.
- Something a little more positive is how Federico Chiesa absolutely took over in the second half. His goal was just sheer determination to get through a host of players on his own team and on the team trying to stop him. But maybe the most enjoyable part of his day was right before de Ligt’s goal when he tries to snatch the ball from a Spezia player for the corner, is pissed off for a second or two, does a shove or two and then simply puts his arm around the ref like nothing happened at all. Chiesa is a super-sized personality — and I love every bit of it.
- I don’t think it was any coincidence that Juventus started to turn the game around when Alvaro Morata came on the field with a half-hour to go. Sure, Kean did some good things — and we will talk about those in a few sentences — but Morata’s importance to this team can not be denied right now. He didn’t get a goal tonight, but he got an assist, and he’s most definitely in a nice stretch of form right now as other players around him struggle to get things going.
- Chiesa finished EIGHT key passes in this game. EIGHT!!
- Chiesa also had six tackles and a clearance. So much for those concerns about how he defends, huh, Max?
- Kean’s goal was really nice and a sign of just what he can do when he’s got a little bit of time on the ball. He almost had a second goal, too, but sent his header right at the keeper. This wasn’t a commanding first start since coming back to Juventus, but it was a solid one, and one that Kean can build on going forward.
- Juventus is now officially ahead of Spezia in the standings. Good times!
- Say what you want about Max Allegri and how he’s handled this season to date, but he sure did nail his substitutions in the second half of this game. Juventus needed Locatelli badly, and Sandro finally gave Juve something dangerous on the left flank after Mattia De Sciglio started the game. (Seriously, MDS and Rabiot on the same wing ... bleh.) And like I said, Morata gave this team a reference point they didn’t have with Kean. So, yeah, Max won the second half even if his team barely won it on the field.
- Paulo Dybala didn’t have a great game. But at least he’s done something we haven’t seen for a while: a pair of free kicks actually put on target in the same game. Baby steps before the big leaps forward, right? (Hopefully.)
- So now that Juventus has one win in Serie A, dare we say they can make it two? I do fear to think what Fabio Quagliarella and Ciccio Caputo were talking about while they were watching Juventus’ defense struggle against a team like Spezia.