On the back of a Champions League night midweek that pretty much everybody wants to forget yet will linger on in our thoughts for weeks and months on end, I’m guessing most of us around here didn’t want to see anything close to what we saw Wednesday night.
Not just because Juventus did stupid things against Villarreal.
But the simple notion of Juventus needing to take care of business against an opponent in Salernitana that is currently sitting at the bottom of the table and has fewer points this season (16) than the Bianconeri have in the 2022 calendar year (22).
Juventus, unlike in its Champions League ouster all of four days earlier, was able to actually take advantage of its first-half scoring chances and build an early lead in a game played in front of the hometown crowd. Thanks to goals from Paulo Dybala (and his new haircut) and Dusan Vlahovic, Juventus rode its two-goal first-half lead to a 2-0 win over bottom dwellers Salernitana on Sunday afternoon, getting back up off the mat a little bit after the midweek embarrassment that took place against Villarreal.
The win not only extended Juve’s unbeaten run in Serie A to 16 games, but also meant the following:
- You don’t drop points against the worst team in the league.
- You move one point within Inter Milan for third place.
- Your first opponent out of the international break? Yep, Inter — which means another win over an Inter team that has dropped a lot of points since the middle of January.
But for Juventus, the most important thing was to just get back on the horse and hopefully prevent any kind of disaster from happening again. It didn’t have to be pretty, it didn’t have to be a blowout victory that saw them cruise for the vast majority of the game. It just had to be a win because the last thing Juventus needed was to go into the international break as a completely wounded squad that was both out of Europe and suddenly dropping points domestically again.
Of course, when you’ve got a 2-0 lead less than 30 minutes in, good things are usually happening for your team — and that was certainly the case for Juventus. You hope that your team can do that against the last-place squad in Serie A when you’re thinking about things before kickoff. That’s what happened, too.
And even with a second half that saw Juve clearly dip from where they were in the opening 45 minutes and had some nervy moments with Salernitana seeing more of the ball, Juve got the job done. That’s what they needed, that’s what they did, and now we can go into the international break a little less grumpy — not much, though! — than we were a few days ago.
(Still grumpy about that, though. Let’s not kid ourselves.)
RADNOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Did Juventus really have to wear their yellow third kits in the game immediately following Wednesday night’s elimination from the Champions League by a Villarreal team known best for its yellow kits? Asking for a friend.
- This was Giorgio Chiellini’s 552nd appearance in a Juventus jersey, tying him for the third-highest total at the club with the best-ever defender to ever wear bianconero, Gaetano Scirea. You realize just how many games that is when you think about how many times Chiellini has been forced to sit out due to injury over the last handful of years. Just think of what that total might be if Chiellini only had half as many muscle injuries as he’s had. He’d certainly be within striking distance of the only two gents in front of him — Alessandro Del Piero and Gigi Buffon.
- Four different players wore the captain’s armband for Juventus against Salernitana: Chiellini, Paulo Dybala, Juan Cuadrado and Danilo (I think?). I can’t remember that many players wearing it all in the same game. Ah, Max’s tinkering makes for some interesting nuggets.
- Dybala got a standing ovation from the crowd at Allianz Stadium as he was subbed off for Alvaro Morata in the second half. Dybala also got a nice hug from Allegri, too. Hopefully that’s more of a “We still love you” moment rather than “Thanks for everything.”
- That touch by Dybala with his right foot to absolutely send the defender flying the wrong way right before he scored ... that was cool. WHO SAID HE CAN’T DO ANYTHING WITH HIS RIGHT, HUH? Take that, haters.
- Dusan absolutely dunked on ‘em for his goal:
- Seriously, that was just an absolutely towering header over his marker by Vlahovic. And it’s not like the guy who was marking him is all that small, either. Vlahovic is just that kind of dude in the air — especially on a cross like he got from Mattia De Sciglio where he can just time it perfectly and get all of his momentum and power behind it.
- Love a De Sciglio assist, by the way. Mostly because you never really expect them from him.
- Who led Juventus in passes? Mattia De Sciglio.
- Speaking of fullbacks, no Luca Pellegrini for the Derby d’Italia in two weeks because of the yellow he picked up in the first half for simulation. I don’t know if it was actually simulation and deserved a card. I don’t think it was a penalty, either, but that seemed like an unnecessary card.
- Most tackles by a Juventus player? Danilo.
- Most interceptions by a Juventus player? Danilo.
- Danilo playing as a makeshift midfielder might not be as bad as you think. (Yes, that is basically the same kind of take on it that I had last season, and it’s not like that’s going to change any time soon unless he completely falls off a cliff when playing as a No. 6.)
- Fabio Miretti!
- I was hoping for Juventus to get a third goal so we could see Miretti and Matias Soulé get a decent run out, but I guess that was just asking for too much. (It usually is, right?)
- The look Max Allegri gave the referee after he was shown a yellow >>>>
- No Radu Dragusin against Juvenuts. That made me sad.
- In a very on-brand move for this season, Juve’s less-than stellar second half allowed Salernitana to finish even on the shot chart with 12. Thank goodness for that first half.
- Wojciech Szczesny didn’t have a ton to do in this game, but he definitely was pretty good when Juventus needed him. Remember when we all wanted to bench him? That’s been quite the turnaround for Juve’s No. 1.
- I’m just glad Juventus won this game because I really couldn’t take a second straight bad result going into the international break — especially against such a bad team like Salernitana. Sitting on two bad results for two weeks would have been baaaaaad news, folks.