There were two very simple options for Alex Sandro as the clock crept towards the 120th minute and Inter Milan were likely on the final attack of extra time.
- Clear the ball.
- Head it back to your goalkeeper.
Alex Sandro, in all of his infinite wisdom, chose Door No. 3.
What does Door No. 3 entail? Well, first you chest the ball that was just sent in by an opposing player to a teammate. Then said teammate is immediately caught in trouble, turns it over and somebody like, say Inter Milan’s Alexis Sanchez, jumps on the ball in the six-yard box and scores the game-winning goal with only seconds remaining, thus preventing the penalty shootout that you were clearly playing for because your team is gassed from never taking place.
And this is how Juventus, after 120 minutes of keeping Inter from scoring in open play, lost Wednesday night’s Supercoppa Italiana 2-1 in extra time. Rather than heading to penalties where Juve could have won the Supercoppa once again, Juventus were forced to watch Sanchez and the entirety of his Inter teammates celebrate as San Siro — or at least the Inter half of it — went nuts.
For a guy who has made a lot of mistakes that have result in goals the last three or so years, this might be the topper of them all. Sandro, for as good as he was to begin his Juve career, showed just how much of a decline he’s been on with one very large gaffe. He had no awareness for the situation at all.
And because of it, Juve’s streak of Supercoppa wins ends in quite the cruel way.
It’s not like Sandro’s night had been all that great before this massive mistake. His lack of sticking with the man he was marking almost led to an Inter goal — something that, thankfully, Mattia Perin was somehow able to save at the near post with lightning-quick reactions. It was just another bad night for a player who is so far from the heights that us not worrying about the
Sure, you can point to other things that happened over the previous 119-plus minutes that played a role in Juventus not winning or even not having to take this one into extra time. But Sandro’s mistake and the domino effect it caused to happen when you are literally seconds away from penalty kicks takes the cake over everything.
Just clear the ball, man.
Head it back to Perin.
Do ANYTHING other than what you actually did.
You know those blackout moments that Max Allegri (and other Juve managers) have talked about? This has to be the latest one because what was a routine clearance with nobody within a foot or two of him became disastrous.
Just unacceptable. Simply unacceptable.
You just can’t make those kinds of mistakes when you’re playing the kind of defensive-minded game that Juve were pretty much the entire night. You’re walking a fine line when you’re really only trying to hit the opponent on the counter, so when you make that kind of mistake then there’s only bad things that are going to happen.
And with that little time left before penalties? My goodness.
In conclusion, if Luca Pellegrini isn’t starting this weekend against Udinese, I’m not sure that we will be able to make it through emotionally. Max Allegri needs to sit Alex Sandro for his own good — and keep Pellegrini in the starting lineup for the foreseeable future.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- NEVER LIKED THE SUPERCOPPA ANYWAYS, YOU GUYS.
- The San Siro may be an old horse, but even with 50 percent capacity it’s one of the loudest stadiums in Italy. The acoustic in that place are just second to none. (Well, maybe Allianz Stadium, but it’s not like that place is always rockin’ these days.)
- Allegri going an extended period of time in this game with four central midfielders on the field is just one of the most Allegri things we will see this season. And it’s not the first time that we’ve seen it this season.
- Ugh, that chance by Federico Bernardeschi early in the second half with half of the goal to shoot into without any sort of challenge.
- Ugh, that other chance by Bernardeschi early in the second half after a weaving run through what felt like half of the Inter midfield and defense. If only he had kept his footing just a little bit better as he shot the ball.
- I’ve said it pretty much every single time that Juve’s played Inter the last couple of years: Nico Barella is one hell of a midfielder. But boy does the guy make even the lightest of touches on a potential foul look like he just got two-footed in the shins. I know, I know, everybody does it. But it’s still not a great look.
- Good to know that it’s a penalty when Giorgio Chiellini whacks somebody in the face but when Weston McKennie gets a face full of somebody’s hand it’s pretty much a two-second look at VAR and that’s about it. Good thing Serie A refereeing is so consistent.
- Speaking of McKennie, I have no idea how he’s going to be able to walk back to the team with how much running he did in this game. He was absolutely everywhere — attacking down the middle, attacking down the wing, tracking back and defending because a fullback is out of position, clearing chances. You name it and McKennie probably did it.
- Plus, you know, that goal he scored was pretty damn good, too.
- Also good on McKennie’s goal: The ability for Dejan Kulusevski to keep the play alive before dishing it off to a teammate and then the work by Alvaro Morata to put in a great cross. Definitely a team goal on that one.
- How on brand is it for Chiellini to be battling for position with Milan Skriniar, see both of those dudes go tumbling into the netting of the goal and then for Chiellini to basically be laughing about it a minute or two later? What a guy he is.
- What a stupid, stupid game. So stupid. And it ended in the dumbest way, too.