Simply on the face of it, if I were to tell you Juventus had nearly four times as many shots as Inter Milan in Sunday night’s Derby d’Italia, what would your reaction be? Probably something that involved a thought process of a good result with Juve scoring a few goals and probably three points attached to it.
That’s not what happened.
That’s not even close to what happened.
Thanks to every possible way you can think of, Juventus didn’t score a goal. Instead, the one goal that was scored was by Inter ... on the second penalty attempt after the initial one was saved by Wojciech Szczesny and then forced to be retaken because Matthijs de Ligt was inches inside of the penalty area milliseconds before Hakan Calhanoglu struck the ball. The second time wasn’t like the first time, as Calhanoglu was able to get it past Szczesny — despite going right again — and Juventus couldn’t capitalize on any of its opportunities from then on out, falling 1-0 in the Derby d’Italia and failing in the chance to jump over Inter and into third place.
With how Juve played for large stretches of this one, it’s pretty easy to figure out how disappointing the result is. Juventus should have scored on so many different occasions — hitting the woodwork in both halves and then coming close on a handful of other shots.
But the problem is, despite all of that, Juventus was about not clinical in front of goal as they’ve been all season. They were actually on the front foot and pressing, not sitting back and essentially waiting for Inter to screw up and try to pounce on a mistake. Max Allegri came out with an attacking lineup that actually attacked, not one that sat back and absorbed pressure galore and only had a few scoring chances to really write home about.
Juventus just couldn’t score. The refereeing decisions — and woooo boy there were some decisions in this one — didn’t help at all, especially when you think about the things that weren’t called compared to what was. But with 22-5 (!!!) advantage in shots, nothing came of it. That’s the truth of the matter, that’s one of the biggest things that resulted in Juve not winning this game.
It turned out where Juve had to try and get back into the game after falling behind because Inter’s one shot on target ended up being the thing that was the difference on the scoreboard. And when you are just that bad in front of goal as Juve were — seriously, so many chances! — then it’s always going to be an uphill climb.
Again, when you have that many shots and come up completely empty, it’s just a brutal loss no matter how much other stuff is going on around you. (Because, yes, even with a terrible showing from a Serie A referee — shocking, right? — Juventus still created that much offense.) The second half might not have been as fruitful as the opening 45 minutes, but there were still chances.
It’s just frustrating to see both the unbeaten streak end and Juventus not get even a point from this game in this kind of manner. Bad luck happens, but sometimes it’s just one key aspect of the game that goes wrong. On this night, it was Juve’s inability to finish in front of goal, and that’s why each one of those 22 shots never found the back of the net.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- The first half lasted 55 minutes. We had five minutes of stoppage time added onto the five minutes of stoppage time.
- Things were so bad in the first half that we got a Max Allegri jacket throw as he screamed at the fourth official. How Marco Landucci, who was standing right behind Allegri as it all played out, didn’t even look like he was shook by any of it was the best part. Almost like he knew it was coming.
- Manuel Locatelli might have been concussed. He definitely had something going on with his ankle or knee. You can understand why the tears were flowing as he came off the field. For a boyhood Juventino, this is not the game you want to come out of — and yet he was forced to.
- I was ready to celebrate a late Paulo Dybala free kick to tie things up. Instead, we got a shot that was never going to challenge Samir Handanovic in the Inter goal.
- And it’s too bad they didn’t test Handanovic more because boy was he completely unconvincing on a lot of the crosses and shots he actually had to face.
- I have no idea how Lautaro Martinez lasted long enough in this game to be subbed off. There is no doubt in my mind he should have been sent off for a second yellow midway through the first half. But he wasn’t — and that had a huge impact on how things played out.
- Speaking of dudes who should have gotten a card for playing dirty yet didn’t: Hey, Milan Skriniar, come on down! The amount of times he was trying to be a defenseman in hockey rather than a defender for Inter was shocking. I counted at least five or six times when he rammed his shoulder and/or elbow right into Dusan Vlahovic’s spine with no intention of playing the ball and got away totally free of anything. There were a lot of mistakes in this game by this refereeing crew, but allowing Skriniar to defend the way he did was ghastly.
- And the Inter fan who reads this may say “But you root for a club that has Giorgio Chiellini on it and he does that all the time!!” No, he doesn’t. Chiellini does not blatantly try to break the man he’s making in half without a desire to do anything else. His game is physical, sure, but it ain’t dirty by any means. (Plus it’s also kinda clumsy because Chiellini is clumsy.)
- Like, how many fouls on Inter could have been called or given a card and weren’t? I don’t know if I have enough fingers for that exercise.
- Basically what I’m trying to say is that Massimiliano Irrati was godawful.
- But the downside of Skriniar being so physical is that it meant Vlahovic was ... let’s just far from impressive. I don’t know how those continuous shots to the back and sternum hurt, so maybe he was just completely spent by the time the final rush of the game arrived. You just expect more than 30 touches and no goals from him even though he did have chances.
- On the completely different end of the spectrum, Adrien Rabiot might have been Juventus’ best player in this one. That’s not just me trying to clear a low bar because Juve, on the whole, played relatively well. Rabiot, though, actually did play well!
- So did Denis Zakaria! This isn’t a game where we can blame Juve’s midfield for being absolutely terrible like so many times in the past few years. Maybe Allegri could have brought on another midfielder for a little more bite or balance, but that’s a minor complaint.
- Also, if Zakaria had scored that weaving run and shot and not sent it clanging off the upright in the second half, I would have lost it. That was just such a beautiful chance.
- With how well Juve played, I expected more. That’s the most disappointing in all of this. Forget the stupid refereeing for a moment — Juve were clearly better than Inter and deserved a win in this game. It was completely different than when the two teams met in the Supercoppa and Juve were just hanging on for dear life most of the night. Instead, a good performance ends with zero points and now the game Inter has in hand becomes even bigger.
- In conclusion, what a stupid, stupid sport this is.