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Manu’s Grab Bag: Derby Victory

We talk meaningful wins, the sham of ritiro and the latest formation switch up.

Dusan Vlahovic of Juventus FC celebrates after scoring a... Photo by Fabrizio Carabelli/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

While perhaps not the most important derby for many fans anymore, there is always a lot of value in winning games against historic city rivals. Regardless of how poor of a form Juventus was arriving in for their clash against Torino in the first Derby della Mole, these are the games that you just have to find a way to win.

And found a way they did.

The Bianconeri scratched and clawed their way to a 1-0 victory that had zero style points but that is a win nevertheless. The three actual points did little to put them closer to the top of the Serie A table as they remain 10 points off the mark currently being set by league leaders Napoli, but it does put them back in the Win column after the disastrous stretch they endured.

Any points this team can get at this point are good points — especially if they ensure that Turin remains black and white.

Let’s cook.

MVP: Dusan Vlahovic

Credit where credit its due: Despite the lackluster form of Juventus, Vlahovic remains scoring at a remarkably high rate, as his goal to win Saturday’s game leveled him with Ciro Immobile and Marko Arnautovic for the league lead.

The thing that I’ve personally been finding encouraging has been his recent predisposition to become more involved in the build-up of play and the game in general. While he still struggles a bit with man-marking center backs, he has become a much more proactive rather reactive striker and in the long run that is good for his development as much more well rounded striker.

Sure, he could have had two goals instead of one, but in a game in which Juventus — as they do recently — had very few chances all he needed to do was bury one to get the win.

Runner Up - Filip Kostic: After his forced rest midweek he came back to be his usual self. Very involved all over the field, he is the perfect maxim of a volume player, but when he connects with a lot of his movements you get the idea of why Juve was so keen on him this transfer window.

Grab Bag MVP Season Leader: Dusan Vlahovic (10 Points)


After the Maccabi Haifa defeat, Max Allegri employed one of Italian managers’ favorite showy tactics — the famous ritiro.

If you didn’t know, this means that the team retreats to their training facilities instead of leaving to their day-to-day activities after training. They do this to hopefully show some sort of extra focus in the team’s next performance.

To be honest, though, I’ve always felt that going into a ritiro is more of a PR tactic to show some sense of contrition from the team to the fans. Other than that, does it really accomplish anything else? It’s not like players are living a spartan lifestyle of football, training, eating and nothing else while in the retreat.

Especially for a team like Juventus, it’s pretty much a stay at a hotel that is basically right next door to the training fields instead of going back home after training. The biggest difference is they probably watch Netflix in a computer or tablet instead of in your — I’m assuming quite large — home TV. It probably sucks for the guys with families that they can’t see their kids or significant others.

And I’m probably not the only who thinks so, since numerous reports hinted at the team not being particularly happy about Allegri making this one sided decision in order to — again — show contrition and an inherent acknowledgement that things are not going great but, hey, we are not going home after training so you know, we are all trying!

Juventus won this game, sure, but it didn’t feel like a specially different performance or that the team was in any sort of way better in the long haul. These are grown ass man, they know they are not playing well, I can’t imagine a forced retreat is the key to unlocking a different level of play in any way, shape or form.

What do I know, though? Next time I mess up at work, I’ll ask my boss and see if I can start spending the night at the office for a week. That will put some extra motivation in my step, I’m sure I won’t hold it against them at all.

Shapeshifting Juventus

For what feels like the umpteenth time this season, Juventus tried to shake things up with a formation change. This time tinkering with a three man backline.

The big problem with this experiment was the fact that it featured exactly one healthy center back flanked by Danilo and Alex Sandro. To their credit — and Torino’s shockingly toothless attack — it worked fairly fine as they held their goal in zeros but its another example of a team that still doesn’t really know what it wants to be.

A three-man backline will work against a team like Torino, but it does nothing against a team with actual strikers. And it sure as hell only makes their fragility on set pieces even worse. Can you imagine either Alex Sandro or Danilo on the air against an actual top-tier striker for a whole game of corner kicks?

Juventus remains a team intent on throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks. One day a guy like Leandro Paredes is a heavily pursued target and an immediate starter, the next he’s benched for no apparent reason. Fabio Miretti is an electric presence in the midfield that’s starting against Paris Saint-Germain in Champions League play, he’s been vanished to the bench the last few games.

One day is a four-man defense, the next is three and I’m sure next game we’ll be doing a hybrid or maybe a five-man defense just for fun.

We complain that this team can’t be consistent, hard to be when not even the tactics stay the same from one day to the other.

Parting Shot of the Week

This came up a bit more gloom and doom than I expected it to, I guess that’s the Maccabi Haifa game stink still in the air. But, hey, Juventus won! They are still capable of such a thing!

And there is no denying that any match day in which Juventus manages to win is bound to be better than one in which they lose. Still, we’ve seen them do this song and dance over and over. Win, hope that there is some sort of turnaround looming, only for them to go back to disappointing. Hard to imagine this win being any different.

But, hey, maybe another ritiro will do the trick.

See you Friday.