Let’s just say that if you were a beating kind of person and you played some favorable odds in Juventus’ game against Empoli on Friday night, you would probably be walking away with a decent chunk of money considering who did what and how the Bianconeri played.
A nice wad of cash.
Three of Juventus’ players who had some of the longest goal-scoring droughts against Serie A opposition found the back of the net in their 4-0 victory over Empoli at the Allianz Stadium. There’s no mistake in all of that — Moise Kean, Weston McKennie and Adrien Rabiot (times two!) all were on the scoresheet and eliminated nearly three years worth of combined time without a goal in Serie A to help Juventus claim back-to-back wins over Italian opposition for the first time this season.
And just for added measure, Friday night was the first time Juve hit the four-goal mark this season — a 2022-23 campaign that has been filled with what Max Allegri’s squad hasn’t been able to do in the final third rather than any sort of offensive prowess.
So for a team that has been described as basically wearing the emotions of the most recent result on their sleeves, the first night of poker of the season before a big trip to Portugal in the Champions League has to feel pretty good knowing how much of this year has gone.
Not bad for building off the Turin derby win, either.
Who knows how the Champions League matchup with Benfica will go on Tuesday night with Benfica based solely on how their first matchup went in Turin a few weeks ago. But when it comes to how Juventus was playing going into that first meeting compared to them coming off a big 4-0 win — sure, yeah, it’s Empoli, fine — I feel pretty safe in saying I will take Friday night’s version of Juventus over just about any other one from this season.
Dare I say that Juventus was actually ... an enjoyable watch against Empoli?
Say it ain’t so, I know. But this is a season in which there’s been very few positive things to grasp onto. There’s been terrible performances against other domestic opponents that are comparable to Empoli. There’s been terrible performances against teams that are better than Empoli and most certainly teams that are much worse.
Like we’ve been saying for weeks now, Juventus has been prone to taking two steps backward right when it looks like they might take one step forward. (Or, in most cases, just after they took another step back a few days earlier.) So after a small step forward against Torino over the weekend, Juventus went and took another step forward on Friday night.
We’ll see what’s to come of it, but for one night Juventus gave us something good to watch.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Good for Moise Kean.
- Good for Weston McKennie.
- Good for Juan Cuadrado.
- Good for Manuel Locatelli.
- Good for Adrien Rabiot.
- Rabiot, especially, is playing like a dude who knows the World Cup is in a month and is trying to show why Didier Deschamps should give him lots of playing time. Oh, and the rumors of a potential contract extension with Juventus are certainly going to be taken into overdrive after his brace against Empoli. You just know it.
- Cuadrado had more assists in this game than he had in his previous Serie A appearances this season. The Cuadrado Washed Watch will be on pause for the next couple of days, but there could very well be a reappearance come next week. Stay tuned to find out.
- Kean could have had a hat trick in this game. Seriously. He probably should have had at least two if not for being offside by a couple of centimeters. That’s a whole lot better than what we’ve seen from him in weeks, let alone months.
- This has to be the first game in a loooooong time in which Locatelli was truly looking like the player who was so good at the beginning of last season. More of this, Manuel. This is the way.
- The entirety of the five in Juventus’ 3-5-2 formation got ratings of at least 8.0 on WhoScored. Guessing that is something that has rarely happened, let alone after the MVP midfield was broken up during Allegri’s first stint as manager.
- If Fabio Miretti scored his late scoring chance in Claudio Marchisio kind of fashion it would have sent all of us running outside. What a goal that almost was — both the individual effort from Miretti and just the total team involvement leading up to the final step.
- Totally forgot Marko Pjaca was at Empoli. Whoopsies.
- Did not forget Koni De Winter was at Empoli. Although this might be a game in which the young Belgian might want to forget about.
- Who would have thought that Juventus scores four goals on one of Dusan Vlahovic’s most nondescript nights as a Juventus player? Certainly not me!
- Filip Kostic was delivering crosses like he was back at Frankfurt in this one. That was the player Juventus signed this summer. More of that, please.
- The best part about this performance other than the obvious fact that Juventus won by a four-goal margin for the first time all season? It’s the fact that it could have — should have? — been an even bigger lead and that they were still pushing for goals as the second half went on. There was not sitting back or classic Allegri “It’s 1-0 so let’s chill” kind of moment. Just a team wanting to add to its lead — and that’s something we can all appreciate.
- Seriously, Marko Pjaca is on Empoli?
- Wojciech Szczesny with a couple of league shutouts in a row. That’s cool.
- Please play like this more often, Juventus. I know that’s a lot to ask, but I think everybody around here and those who wear your jersey every game would like it.