I feel safe in saying that if you looked up players who have gotten the most criticism from us writers and commenters alike on this here website over the last 18 months, Moise Kean would probably be near the top. For much of his comeback to Juventus, things had not gone well at all. The finishing was terrible, the decision making wasn’t much better and there was plenty of reason to think that a change of scenery was the best option for him.
Ah, how things have changed.
Just like what we saw four days earlier, Kean got his chance to dance. Not once, but twice, too, as his brace — one goal that was of extremely high difficulty and the other not so much — led Juventus to a 3-0 win over Lazio at the Allianz Stadium on Sunday night. It pushed Juventus’ winning streak to six games. Same goes for the number of consecutive games with a shutout. You put those two things together and Juventus has moved from eighth place in the Serie A table into being all alone in third place.
And for Kean, who has come alive and is arguably in his best run of goal-scoring form since his teenage years at Juve, has scored five goals in five games, with match winners in back-to-back games against Hellas Verona and now Lazio.
What a turnaround for the player himself. What a turnaround for the team.
A day after Max Allegri rolled out to his pre-match press conference and declared “My ideal is a team that wins,” there’s two very noticeable things that stand out after this win:
- Lazio 59-41 edge in possession.
- Juventus 3-0 edge on the scoreboard.
It’s the kind of performance that makes you want to smile, doesn’t it?
You know that guy above is smiling because his team is playing with the kind of spirit that it lacked for a large portion of the 2022-23 season. (I know, I know, they’re out of the Champions League. But if there’s any positive to take out of the last month it’s the fact that Juve aren’t a total train wreck during the domestic portion of their schedule, too.)
But let’s look at what Juventus has done right over the course of this six-game winning streak and showed it to be very much true again in the win over Lazio:
- They were absolute hounds defensively, preventing Lazio from having any quality scoring chances until the final moments when Wojciech Szczesny actually had to make a difficult saves.
- They are starting to show that they have some sort of identity. It’s not there yet, but it’s a start — which is obviously much better than the first two months of the season.
- The much-maligned midfield has found its groove with the trio of Manuel Locatelli, Nicolo Fagioli and Adrien Rabiot playing together almost exclusively over the last couple of weeks.
- And the biggest thing of all — they’ve now beaten two direct rivals for a top four spot within the span of eight days.
Not every win over these last six victories has been aesthetically pleasing. We need to only look back a few days to be reminded of that. But I said it before and I will say it again: these last six games are the type of games in which Juventus has dropped points in over the last season and two months. You think the Juventus we saw in August or September would have been capable of beating Inter or Lazio? I don’t think so. (And that’s also taking into account just how many players are still out injured or just coming back from injury.)
But the most important thing heading into the World Cup break is that Juventus has a much different kind of vibe around the squad with this winning streak. They’re not playing like their they’re own worst enemy. They’re playing with confidence. Those players like Kean and Locatelli who were struggling have turned things around.
It all adds up to Juventus being in third place heading into the World Cup break. That is not something that I would have thought would be possible after Juve got dominated by AC Milan at the San Siro a little over a month ago. Then again, I didn’t think Juve could win six Serie A games in a row, so I’m happy to be proven wrong — no matter if it’s a player or the team as a whole.
Certainly a lot better than eighth place, I gotta say.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Yeah of course Juventus finds their best form of the season when we’re about to go over 50 days in between games. Of course. Because this is how things work. And this is why having a World Cup in a totally corrupt country that bribed its way into the game is so stupid.
- Seeing Moise Kean happy makes me happy. It should make you happy, too.
- You know you missed seeing Maurizio Sarri and his bright white dad shoes along the sidelines at Allianz Stadium. Don’t lie. You know it’s true.
- Seeing Federico Chiesa in Juventus’ beautiful all-black away kit for the first time this season ... these are things you love to see.
- Chiesa’s assist on Arek Milik’s late goal was his first since that game against Roma back in January. It’s been 10 long months, and our boy got another thing to check off the list of things to do now that he’s back.
- I posted on Twitter that I wanted to see a Kean hat trick right after he nearly scored a third. Literally five seconds later Max Allegri was bringing on Angel Di Maria for Kean. READ THE TWEETS, MAX, READ THE TWEETS. (Maybe Max has a burner account somewhere, I dunno. We know he’s not on social for a reason and I’m guessing they involve “Allegri” and “Out” or something along those lines.)
- The cameras got a shot of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic messing with the back of Juan Cuadrado’s afro during a second-half corner kick. I don’t know how effective it was, but it sure was something that I had never seen from somebody who was being marked by Johnny Square before.
- Juventus fans applauded Milinkovic-Savic when he was subbed off late in the second half. I’m guessing it wasn’t because he was playing with Cuadrado’s hair a little while earlier.
- But with Adrien Rabiot playing like he has this season — and especially lately — is somebody like SMS going to be the best investment of potentially €70 or €80 million? At this point, I’m just glad that Rabiot is playing like somebody who is worthy of earning €7.5 million net a season. Contract Year Rabiot forever, my friends.
- Give Rabiot a contract extension. For one year. And then if he replicates this kind of form next season, rinse and repeat. Just continue to do it to make Contract Year Rabiot a thing every year. Makes sense, right?
- Only one of Juventus’ three starting midfielders completed more than 80 percent of their passes on Sunday night, but I feel pretty safe in saying that it was Allegri’s side that won the battle in the midfield. Not bad!
- Another sign that Juventus needs to build this defense around Bremer? Just look at how good he has been playing in the center of the back three lately. That’s something that is more and more important to this team.
- Danilo is good. Give that man a new contract, too.
- Filip Kostic’s first cross of the night went about 20 rows into the stands on the fly. After that, our man who launches crosses with no abandon was pretty good. I bet the Serbia coaches like to see that. So does Max Allegri.
- Very solid showing from Federico Gatti after some rocky moments in his last couple of outings. Maybe hold back on picking up a yellow so early on, but other than he did a pretty good job.
- Juventus’ next game, on Jan. 4, 2023, against Cremonese, is in 52 days. Sure hope you guys have something to do in between now and then because I’m not sure the World Cup is going to be the usual thing that sucks in all of my attention for a month straight like it usually does this time around.
- I guess I’ll just have to write about Juventus — we’re still planning on doing that around here over the next 50-something days.