Coming into Saturday night’s game against Lecce, Nicolo Fagioli had played all of 71 minutes in Serie A this season. He was very much the last name on the midfield depth chart, and his playing time was reflective of that fact. Heck, even Nicolo Rovella, now very much on loan at Monza for the 2022-23 season, almost had as many minutes in a Juventus shirt as Fagioli.
But on came Fagioli to begin the second half against Lecce, likely the by-product of Juventus’ massive injury list more than anything else.
So what did the kid do? Well, just gave us a reminder of what kind of talent he is.
Fagioli’s absolute stunner of a goal and subsequent celebration that gave you memories of Juventus greats of the past gave the Bianconeri a 1-0 win over Lecce. It was the moment of pure magic that Juve needed on a night where they were otherwise pretty terrible overall, with a whole lot of issues from weeks and months past showing their head again. But there was Fagioli, even though he’s been so starved for minutes to begin the season in his return to the club he grew up at, able to bail out his team and play the role as unexpected hero.
The assist on Fagioli’s goal, by the way? Samuel Iling-Junior.
NICOLÒ FAGIOLI TAKE A BOW.— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) October 29, 2022
A stunner from the 21-year-old. pic.twitter.com/C4FOUap7YI
Not bad for your first Serie A goal with Juventus. Not bad no matter the context of it.
But for Fagioli, a boyhood Juventino who was celebrating goals behind the Juventus goal when he served as a ball boy during Juve’s final game before lockdown in March of 2020, this one had to mean a little extra to him. Even if it was a simple tap-in after a nice run into the box it would have been special. But to score your first senior team goal in that fashion? Under that kind of context? With your team struggling to do much of anything right up until that point? That’s the stuff that dreams are pretty much made of, folks.
And, again, this is from a player who has barely played this season.
Yet in his first appearance in almost six weeks, Fagioli delivered one of the best goals you’ll see anybody in Serie A score this season. Hopefully we don’t have to wait another six weeks to see him play in a game again, you know?
On this night, Max Allegri had no other choice but to turn to the kids because of so many of his regulars out injured. He started a pair of teenagers in Fabio Miretti and Matias Soulé. He brought on the 21-year-old Fagioli and another teenager, Iling-Junior, right before the eventual game-winning was scored. These were moves made because he basically had no other options to turn to with only 19 total players available, but it’s not like Allegri stood pat and just rolled with his starting lineup for the entire 90 minutes.
For one night, the kids got their chance.
And you know? That kids are pretty alright. They’re showing that they can hang — which, of course, is not always the case when you throw players at their age into the fire.
They’re not getting overwhelmed by the moment whether it’s in Serie A or in the Champions League like we saw earlier in the week. That, also, is something you don’t always see from players who come up from the youth sector right away. But the likes of Fagioli, Miretti, Soulé and Iling-Junior aren’t feeling the heat.
Maybe it’s being totally naive at their age because they don’t know any better. Or maybe it’s a sign that they are more than capable of some sort of role on this team the rest of the season. No matter what it is, I can tell you I’m much more looking forward to seeing what Soulé and Iling-Junior can do out what rather than watching Juan Cuadrado at this point.
If Juve want to move forward with some sort of plan, they’re going to have to show those who could be part of the future some faith rather than just trusting those who won’t be here in a year or two no matter what. There are tough decisions to be made, but one of the easier ones seems to be trusting the youngsters want to prove themselves in this shirt.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- PASTA E FAGIOLI FOR EVERYBODY TONIGHT.
- You know what? Credit to Max Allegri for giving Weston McKennie the hook at halftime and bringing Fagioli on. While a lot of other things about Max probably made you scratch your head in this game, but the move to bring Fagioli on to begin the second half was the right one.
- You know why? Because Fagioli’s first pass was a through ball that created a scoring chance. Forget the whole Juve youth product part for a second — just having that mindset like Fagioli has is something that this team needs more of these days.
- Of course just a few minutes after Fagioli’s stunner we almost saw Lecce tie the game up with a shot off the post. Wojciech Szczesny was beat, too. Thank goodness for the post.
- Give me more Samuel Iling-Junior, please.
- Give me more Matias Soulé, too, please. That was a pretty solid first start of the season for the young Argentine. Yeah, whatever, it’s Lecce, but he definitely was one of the few bright spots for Juve, especially in the first half.
- The two teams combined for more yellow cards (8) than shots on goal (5). All of those shots on goal were from Juventus, by the way.
- Fabio Miretti playing in the hole as a No. 10-ish kind of midfielder didn’t go great, but again, getting a player with his skillset closer to goal is going to be rewarded sooner or later.
- Miretti could have also gotten a red card for that tackle of his in which he was shown a yellow. That was not good. Lucky, lucky boy.
- There are some things that remind you just how inexperienced Federico Gatti is at the Serie A level, but there are also things that make you believe he could develop into a really good defender at some point down the road. Dude had 10 clearances against Lecce! He also had a Giorgio Chiellini-like run through the midfield and into the attacking third that made me laugh.
- It’s funny because the numbers would tell you Weston McKennie didn’t have a bad first half. The eye test, however, tells you something entirely different. That was the right move to bring Fagioli on for Mack at the half — and I was thinking that well before that goal of Nico’s.
- Arek Milik attempted one shot.
- At least Juventus won and got the three points. That’s better than we could say about Juve facing some of the other potential relegation battlers this season.