As an economics guy, Giorgio Chiellini knows the significance of numbers. No matter if it’s stats to do with the match he just played or a salary that a player might earn, you know Chiellini has thought about things more than once or twice.
That’s why you can understand the significance of the number 17.
As the clock rolled into the 17th minute, Chiellini’s time on the field as a Juventus player at Allianz Stadium officially came to an end. It wasn’t the second-half sendoff that we had seen from previous captains like Alessandro Del Piero and Gigi Buffon who said farewell, instead we saw Chiellini subbed off as many minutes into the game as years he’s spent at Juventus. Seventeen was the number in which we saw Juve’s captain get a round of applause which then led to hugs from every teammate on the field and then the bench, with a Lap of Honor to follow as the first half went on. It was just that kind night at Allianz Stadium as Juventus supporters also said farewell to their No. 10 and vice captain Paulo Dybala in a 2-2 draw against Lazio thanks to a last-second goal from reported Juve transfer target Sergej Milinković-Savić.
It was a night to celebrate those two even though Lazio tying the score could have been easily prevented if Juan Cuadrado had just dribbled things out rather go hunting for a free kick. (Not that I’m sitting here still shaking my head or anything.)
It was a night to have some happy moments as a disappointing season comes to a close — and that was before Lazio was able to snatch a point at the death.
Chiellini got his Lap of Honor. Dybala got a Lap of Honor. The Allianz Stadium crowd made sure to live up to the moment as two of the most loyal servants this club current has played for the final time at Juve’s jewel of a stadium.
The result, at least for Juventus, was secondary to ensuring that Chiellini, one of the best to ever play this damn sport and the club’s captain since 2018, get the sendoff he so deserved. Same goes for Dybala, who has grown up right before our eyes after he signed with Juventus in the summer of 2015 and has risen up the hierarchy to become vice captain.
Was seeing Juve throw a lead away in the last minute of stoppage time pretty frustrating in the moment? Well, sure, but it’s also been a season full of self-inflicted damage done and preventable moments that have ended in stupidity.
But, honestly, it won’t be the Lazio counterattack charging up the field with seconds remaining that we will remember from this night. Nope, I’ll probably choose to forget about it because of it being just another stupid moment in a season full of them.
Instead, I want to remember seeing Chiellini being happy with coming off in the 17th minute, the BBC reuniting during the post-game ceremony. Or Dybala getting absolutely mobbed by his teammates multiple times after he was subbed off in the 77th minute or during the post-game ceremony. Or Dusan Vlahovic hitting the Dybala Mask and then giving Chiellini a giant hug after he opened the scoring with a sweet diving header.
Those are the things I will remember. And I will choose to remember those, not the Lazio counterattack that led to the game-tying goal. (Although you gotta admit that Jose Mourinho’s reaction back in Rome to Lazio scoring and wrapping up a Europa League spot had to be pretty good in a schadenfreude kind of way.)
It’s all about the 17th minute, the 77th minute and what has happened from then on surrounding two incredibly beloved players.
That’s when we said goodbye to a pair of champions who have given so much to Juventus.
There were tears from Chiellini, Dybala, those in the stadium and us watching around the world. It was worth it even if it’s coming on the cusp of a summer where there’s a lot of changes — both of what we know about already and are yet to learn.
This was a tough one for a variety of reasons — and only a few of them had to do with things that actually happened on the field.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- As expected, Giorgio Chiellini went on his Lap of Honor while the match was still happening. He was flooded with love and scarves from the crowd. He deserved every single bit of it.
- Dybala got his own Lap of Honor, signing just about every jersey he possibly can along the way. The images of Dybala during Chiellini’s post-game ceremony will be hard to forget, and the tears he shed a clear sign — again — that this was more Juventus’ decision to not sign him to a contract extension more than anything else. Through it all, the guy has loved this club with all of his heart and the ugly crying was proof of that.
- I’m just glad that it was his teammates who pushed to have him get the spotlight once Chiellini was done watching his tribute video. This night was made all about Chiellini, but this was also a day for Dybala to be celebrated and honored. Even through the tears that Paulo and the rest of us had, he got it. And as he walked off that field for the last time as a Juventus player, we finally got to see that boyish smile of his. Through the last tears, a smile to remind us that through the pain of this goodbye, there’s still a reason to be a little happy.
- The first player to greet Dybala after he was subbed off? Giorgio Chiellini, with his big goofy grin there to embrace Dybala. Just a perfect encapsulation of who Chiellini is as a person.
- There was a shot of Chiellini on the bench with about five minutes to go and he was just chilling there like it was a random January game against Hellas Verona or something. He was just enjoying the moment. That sums up who he is, too.
- The names of former Juve players who were in the building to celebrate Chiellini and Dybala: Claudio Marchisio, Andrea Barzagli, Gigi Buffon, Simone Pepe and Miralem Pjanic.
- It’s wild to think about how many players on the Juventus roster in which this could have been the last home match for. We know about Chiellini and Dybala, but there was also this group — Morata, Federico Bernardeschi, Alvaro Morata — that were in the starting lineup. There’s going to be a lot of changes this coming summer, folks.
- Morata scoring a pretty goal in potentially his final home match was cool to see.
- Bernardeschi getting carded in potentially his final home match was predictable to see.
- Alex Sandro with an own goal in potentially his final home match was also kinda predictable based on how the last couple of seasons have been for him.
- Manuel Locatelli and Fabio Miretti playing alongside one another in this one was probably what Juve had hoped would be the case when they signed Arthur. Some of the passes that were played out of midfield is the result of playing two extremely technical and talented midfielders.
- For Miretti, this was a big one because it was against one of the best midfields in all of Serie A. It wasn’t the perfect showing, but the kid showed he could hang — and that’s an important step for an 18-year-old making his third-ever Serie A start.
- The reception in which Andrea Agnelli got from a very vocal portion of those in attendance Monday night was certainly not the one I’m guessing he expected. These are not happy times for the rapport between a president who has done a lot of good at Juve and those who support the club. An interesting twist during a post-game ceremony that was otherwise very, very touching for multiple reasons.
- Who knows what kind of player he develops into, but I think it’s safe to say that Martin Palumbo might have the best hair of any Juve debutant over the last few years. That’s a quality salad. A little reminiscent of Paolo De Ceglie.
- I dunno about y’all, but it was pretty cool to see the Juventus women involved in a pre-game ceremony to commemorate their latest Scudetto and then part of the Chiellini ceremony. The interaction between Chiellini, his daughter Olivia and women’s captain Sara Gama was pretty damn cool.
- Totally predictable that Juventus would throw away the 2-1 lead late, right? Yeah, thought so, too.