As was the case 2 1⁄2 years ago in Verona, all eyes were on the guy in a Juventus jersey wearing the No. 7 making his highly-anticipated debut after a big-money move to Turin. This one came in early February, not mid-August, and the weather conditions were very, very different than that day at the Bentegodi, but the buzz was very much evident at Allianz Stadium well before the ball was kicked off.
And it took all of 12 minutes and change for the No. 7 to announce his presence.
Dusan Vlahovic, Juventus’ new €80 million man, didn’t wait all that long to say that he’s very much the same dude who was lighting up the scoresheet during his time in Florence. With a lob over the onrushing keeper and a roll into the back of the net, Vlahovic scored his first Juventus goal on all of his second shot and didn’t disappoint in his debut in Biaconero. The end result, a 2-0 win over Hellas Verona on Sunday night where fellow newbie Denis Zakaria also scored on his debut, was very much the kind of game in which you wanted Juve’s big names in attack — both new and old — to start this new era on a high note, and they most certainly did just that.
You just look at that goal — the ball from Dybala to Vlahovic was special, Vlahovic’s finish was special and to see the two celebrate like they’ve known each other for years just brought a smile to a whole lot of faces both in the stadium and those watching from afar.
This is what Juventus needed. This is what Juventus’ attack most definitely needed.
There’s a new energy surrounding this team, and Sunday night was the first time to go out and show that they’re going to use these next couple of months to get something out of the 2021-22 season. And with Atalanta getting upset earlier in the day Sunday, guess who’s currently back in the top four?
Yeah, you guessed.
The opening to jump into fourth place on this day might not have been predicted by many coming into the weekend, but with Atalanta losing Juventus had to take full advantage of it. And with a solid all-around performance by both the new guys and those who have been on the squad for much longer than that, Juventus got both the win and the top four spot they have been seeking for so long.
It’s hard not to think of what could be in store for the immediate future knowing that both of the new guys — especially Vlahovic — got on the scoresheet so quickly. This wasn’t an offensive powerhouse kind of performance — Juve were actually outshot by Hellas Verona in the game — but it gave you glimpses of what could be when things do fully click and this new-look team gets more and more time together and some regular starters get back into the fold. And when it comes to figuring out what to write about as this game went on, things were pretty damn simple, if you ask me ...
The new guys scoring goals on their debut.
Sometimes the story just writes itself, folks.
Essentially, Juventus has yet to lose when Vlahovic and/or Zakaria score a goal. That’s something that surely would be fine to see extended for another few months (or years). I don’t care about your small sample size arguments right now — enjoy the show.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Pre-game thought No. 1: DUSAN!
- Pre-game thought No. 2: BIG ZAK!
- Pre-game thought No. 3: Is this the first game in which Max Allegri will go with a 4-3-TBD? There were some obvious limitations with this starting lineup due to injuries, suspensions and just unfortunate circumstances with players coming back late from international duty, but the fact that Allegri went Dybala-Vlahovic-Morata in attack right away is hopefully the kind of let-em-loose attitude we’ll see from him more and more this season. You’ve got some talented attacking players, so use them to your advantage.
- Pre-game thought No. 4: Just from a pure esthetic standpoint, Juventus was so close to having a starting lineup with Nos. 1-11. It was never possible with the No. 8 now vacant as Aaron Ramsey is over in Scotland for the rest of the season, but the fact still remains — so close.
- Formation-wise, though, this looked much more 4-3-1-2 than anything else, with Dybala pretty much having the free-roaming role he’s done so many times before when playing up front.
- Midway through the first half, Denis Zakaria had as many interceptions as Hellas Verona’s entire team. I love him already.
- Zakaria and Weston McKennie are former Bundesliga boys and based on the celebration after Juve’s second goal they’re already best of friends. The good vibes were seen after that goal. Can’t blame them, either.
- Has Danilo become one of this team’s most important players? Because it feels like he’s become one of this team’s most important players — and his performance against Hellas Verona very much supported that. He was a rock in defense.
- Alvaro Morata, a dude who was thought to be the guy to sacrifice playing time with Vlahovic arriving, just put forth one of his best games of the season. That work on Zakaria’s goal made it all happen, and the assist was very much deserved. Maybe, just maybe, he’s going to be played in a role that kicks his season into gear.
- This weather might have been considered a heat wave compared to what Weston McKennie was playing in earlier in the week. Plus, I’m just glad he was able to show that he had some energy and play a little bit after the marathon international break he had.
- Honest question: Did any of Juventus’ starters have a bad game? Because I feel like pretty much everybody in Allegri’s starting lineup played pretty solid overall.
- This was Juve’s ninth clean sheet in their last 13 games. I’ll take that every single time.
- Complete side note: It was a good weekend for one of Claudio Marchisio’s sons. Goals on goals on goals.
- That game was fun. I maybe would have liked Juventus to score a second goal sooner, but that game was still fun regardless. The fog was not fun for somebody with terrible eyesight like myself, but when Juve’s winning I can deal with it. More of where that came from, please. Although with less fog if possible.