Oh, you thought you weren’t getting this this year, did you?
This piece is admittedly a little later than I would have liked, but the realities of life as the parent of a 9-month-old have unfortunately kept me from devoting the time required to process every goal Juventus scored this season and distill it down to a list of the top 15 strikes of the year.
Unfortunately, the club made things a lot easier on me this year than they did last year. Under Andrea Pirlo in 2020-21, not counting own goals, Juventus racked up 106 strikes. This year, Massimiliano Allegri’s negative approach and outdated tactics produced just 77 — 56 in league play, nine in the Coppa Italia, one in the Supercoppa Italiana, and 11 in the Champions League.
I have dutifully sifted through all 77 of those — well, the ones from open play, it’s not like the a penalty is going to ever make this list unless someone decides to show off and hit a Rabona from the spot or something — and the list is made. As always, the reasons a goal can hit the list can vary. Sometimes, it’s a pretty finish. Sometimes the buildup is insane. And sometimes it’s the circumstances behind the goal that can elevate it beyond the simplicity of the strike into something sublime.
Here, without further ado, are the top 15 Juventus goals of the 2021-22 season.
15) Moise Kean, Serie A Round 19, vs. Cagliari
Moise Kean’s season was a disappointment to be sure. When he returned to the team the hope was that he’d pick up where he left off at the end of the 2017-18 season, when a lot of us were convinced he’d be the team’s No. 9 for a decade to come. Two years after being sold to Everton in about as obvious a “we need money” move as there ever has been (and that was before the pandemic), Kean returned to the fold but he never came close to replicating that form, and ended up one of the more reviled figures on the team by the end of the year.
But for all his issues this year, he was involved in a couple of really excellent goals, starting with this one to open the scoring against Cagliari on the last day of the andata in December. It was an incredible, instinctual finish, as he managed to react in a split second to the deflection of a Federico Bernardeschi shot, adjusting mid-run and heading the ball past Alessio Cragno.
14) Mattia De Sciglio, Serie A Round 21, at Roma
This was easily the wildest game of the season.
Juventus were down 1-0 early and 3-1 in the opening minutes of the second half. They looked dead and buried, both in this game and when it came to a top four finish.
But the magic of Marco Landucci shone through late in the second half. Allegri’s top assistant, coaching in his stead because of a suspension, got his subs right in the second half, sending on Arthur and pushing Manuel Locatelli further up the field. The midfielder clawed Juve one back in the 70th minute. Within seven minutes, Juve had the lead thanks to this goal from the very unlikeliest of sources.
Mattia De Sciglio had only ever scored one other goal as a professional player, and that had been nearly five years before. But when Chris Smalling failed to clear a clever scooped pass from Weston McKennie and instead headed it right into the fullback’s path, he took it like he’d been scoring goals for years. He chested the ball down and swept it in at the near post to complete the most remarkable comeback of the season.
13) Moise Kean, Serie A Round 34, at Sassuolo
Kean gets another spot on the list, this time for a goal of both skill and paramount importance.
The young Italy international had come on as a sub in the 67th minute of this game at the Mapei Stadium. Juve had fallen behind to a good strike from Giacomo Raspadori, only to equalize on the stroke of halftime through Paulo Dybala (a goal that was really good itself and made the shortlist for this piece). Juve had their chances to get ahead, but Andrea Consigli had stood on his head with a couple of insane saves. It was looking increasingly like Juve was going to drop points at a crucial moment and give the chasing pack the chance to close in on them in the race for the top four.
Kean had been one of the worst players on the pitch for most of his outing. He had repeatedly been unable to hold the ball up and time and time again lost possession. But this one time, after Leonardo Bonucci launched a ball upfield and Luca Pellegrini headed it down to Kean, he executed everything perfectly. He held off his defender, turned into the channel, and nutmegged Consigli for good measure to give Juve the lead with two minutes left on the clock. It was a crucial victory that allowed Juve to wrap up their spot in the Champions League the very next week.
12) Moise Kean, Champions League Group Stage, vs. Malmo
I know this is starting to look like the Moise Kean show, but the real reason this goal is on the list isn’t the finish — which was a relatively straightforward header — but the absurd skill level on the assist from Bernardeschi, who flicked the ball with the outside of his left boot into the perfect spot for Kean to rise up and nod home.
This was one of several moments this season where it almost looked as though Bernardeschi was going to finally show us what we thought we were getting when we bought him five years ago. Alas, that didn’t last, but it’s nice to have moments like this — as well as another that will be a ways further along on this list.
11) Paulo Dybala, Serie A Round 21, at Roma
As we said before, the fireworks were going early and often in January’s game against Roma. Juve had gone down quickly after some terrible marking on a corner allowed Tammy Abraham to open the scoring, but one only needs to give Paulo Dybala a whisper of a chance to do damage, and his equalizer was an absolute thing of beauty.
It was a connection between a pair of superstars. Federico Chiesa took a pass from the back and torched debuting winter transfer Ainsley Maitland-Niles, opening up a huge passing lane for him to center the ball back to Dybala. Roma had left the Argentine unmarked to an absurd degree, and he had all the time in the world to gather the ball at the edge of the penalty arc and unleash a 20-yard shot that curled beautifully into the far post beyond the hand of a despairing Rui Patricio. It was a vintage Dybala goal, not going for power but simply shaping the ball where he wanted it to go, into the perfect spot for it to elude the keeper.
10) Alvaro Morata, Serie A Round 37, vs. Lazio
The last home game of the year was emotional for all kinds of reasons that had nothing to do with the game itself. It was the last time the home fans got to see Dybala and Giorgio Chiellini in a Juventus shirt, and both men deservedly got a lap of honor when they were withdrawn from the game. Chiellini was given a massive send-off by the club post-game, while Dybala — who the front office would probably rather have been ignored — was put front and center along side Chiellni during the ceremony by his teammates, who basically staged a rebellion in order to get him his due.
It would’ve been fitting for either of them to wind up on the scoresheet one last time, but it wasn’t to be. But there was one other man who was likely making his last appearance in front of the home crowd, and he did sign off with a goal for the supporters.
Alvaro Morata has been a wonderful soldier for the club in the four years he’s spent in Turin. He has tremendous love for the club, which you can see every time he plays. In his last game at the Allianz, Morata went out in style. He had trailed a counterattack, one fittingly started with a delightful piece of skill by Dybala, who back-heeled the ball into the path of Juan Cuadrado. Cuadrado had found Morata on the left side of the box but it looked like any chance to shoot had been shut down by the Lazio defense. But the Spaniard was patient, dribbled inside, found a sliver of a shooting lane and with practically no momentum going forward whacked a brilliant shot across goal and past a flying Thomas Strakosha.
Juve would eventually blow the 2-0 lead that goal gave them, but with nothing to play for and everything to celebrate at the end, it really didn’t matter all that much.
9) Paulo Dybala, Serie A Round 30, vs. Salernitana
Of all the things that sucked about the way the club handled Dybala’s contract negotiations this season, possibly the most disappointing thing was that his being forced out of the club robbed us of the partnership between he and Dusan Vlahovic.
The two players became fast friends during their short time together at Juventus — anyone who saw the picture of the two of them sitting together at the Allianz after it had cleared out following the goodbye ceremony and didn’t shed a tear doesn’t have a soul — and also looked to have some serious chemistry on the field, connecting with each other up front on a regular basis.
One such connection came here in the fifth minute of this late-March tilt against Salernitana. Vlahovic was fed into the right channel by a square pass from Cuadrado. With defenders closing in on him, he deftly spotted the run of Dybala just outside of him, and the No. 10 took a single touch to turn his defender inside out, then fired a powerful strike in off the base of the near post.
It’s a real shame we won’t get to see this connection develop in coming seasons.
8) Manuel Locatelli, Serie A Round 7, at Torino
Manuel Locatelli finally became a Juventus player after interminable meetings and another complex loan-with-an-obligation structure to save on money in the short term. He was brought along slowly — perhaps too slowly — but started to come alive as the leaves began to turn. He’d scored his debut goal for the club his previous game, but this, for the boyhood Juventino, was the moment he truly arrived.
It had been a frustrating game at the Stadio Grande Torino, goalless through 85 minutes. So of course Juve had their crosstown cousins right where they wanted them.
In the 86th minute, Locatelli took a neat through ball from Chiesa right at the top of the box and whizzed a shot to his right past a diving Vanja Milinkovic-Savic and in off the base of the post, joining a long tradition of Juventus players who have broken Torino hearts in the last stages of the game.
7) Dusan Vlahovic, Serie A Round 27, at Empoli
Now we enter the Vlahovic portion of the evening. A lot of his goals made the short list for this piece, and this is the first to make the cut.
After bursting out of the gate when he scored a goal on his debut (more on that in a minute) and forced a late own goal to decide the second, Vlahovic had cooled off over his next few games, and had been marked out to the point of irrelevance in two of them. But he came back alive here at the Stadio Castellani. After some shocking defending had wasted an early lead, Vlahovic wasted no time reestablishing the advantage on the stroke of halftime. A rare forward pass from Arthur had released Cuadrado, who fed Vlahovic in the middle of the box. The Serbia international took a fantastic first touch that left both keeper and defender sitting on their rear ends before stroking the ball home into an empty net.
He would later register his first brace in a Juve shirt with a goal that was quality in and of itself for the way he controlled the initial pass, but that first touch on this one was just so sublime in taking two players out of the play that it easily got the spot.
6) Paulo Dybala, Serie A Round 36, at Genoa
This one is bittersweet. It’s the last goal Paulo Dybala ever scored for Juventus, and it was also one that showed just how much he’s grown in the seven years he’s worn the black and white.
Dybala took a layoff from Kean just above the left-hand base of the arc, turned, and sent a stunning right-footed curler past Salvatore Sirigu and in at the far post. Of course, when he first arrived, Dybala’s biggest weakness was that he could barely use his right foot, but now, seven years later and in his prime, he’s popping off things like that with his off wheel.
It was a stellar strike that pulled him level with none other than Roberto Baggio for ninth on the team’s all-time goalscoring chart. His final contribution to the scoresheet for Juve was truly special.
5) Federico Chiesa, Champions League Group Stage, vs, Chelsea
This was supposed to be the year that Federico Chiesa turned into a true world superstar. After a breakout season under Andrea Pirlo and then a star turn at Euro 2020(1), it looked to be written in the stars that the second-generation star would cement his place as Juve’s biggest attacking star.
Alas, it wasn’t to be.
Chiesa was re-integrated into the team slowly after a strenuous summer at the Euros, then fell victim to Allegri’s insistence on tinkering with what position people should play. Convinced for the first few months of the season that he could turn Chiesa into a striker, he finally realized that idea was stupid in late fall and Chiesa was just starting to settle back in out wide and start turning on the form when he suffered a muscle injury in the 1-0 home loss to Atalanta. He got back after the winter break and looked ready to go until a combination of a bad Chris Smalling challenge and the Stadio Olimpico turf monster led to a torn ACL.
It was a real shame, because when he was on Chiesa was still more than capable of producing things like this. After holding on for dear life in the first half against defending champions Chelsea at the J Stadium, Chiesa flipped the game on its head 11 seconds in, taking a pass from his partner in the WINGS OF FEDE and smashed it into the roof of the net to give Juve the lead. It was a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, giving the team one of their banner nights of the entire season.
It was that kind of burst that the team was missing for much of last season, and the hope everywhere is that when Chiesa comes back he’s fully healed and ready to play just the way he did before.
4) Dusan Vlahovic, Serie A Round 24, vs. Hellas Verona
As kickoff time approached for Vlahovic’s Juventus debut, the Allianz was rocking in a way it hadn’t been in a very long time. The entire stadium was waiting and ready to explode for a goal from the new franchise cornerstone.
He didn’t keep them waiting long. Only six minutes into the game, he hit a vicious strike that was met with a flying save from Verona keeper Lorenzo Montipo, and six minutes after that he scored his debut goal in some style, running onto an excellent through ball by Dybala and scoring an outrageous chip over Montipo from just inside the penalty area.
Needless to say, the roof came off the place. It was the ideal start to Vlahovic’s Juventus career.
3) Dusan Vlahovic, Champions League Round of 16, at Villarreal
How do you top that goal? How about scoring with your literal first touch ever in the Champions League 32 seconds into the game?
That’s how Vlahovic started things off in the Champions League round of 16, when Danilo pounced on an errant pass and sent him a ball over the top. He got between Raul Albiol and Paul Lopez, then twisted his body and fired a shot across the goal without even looking up, nestling it just inside the far post. It was a dream start, one that was unfortunately squandered by Allegri’s negative tactics.
2) Federico Bernardeschi, Coppa Italia Semifinals, vs. Fiorentina
Bernardeschi’s banner moment of the 2021-22 season came against his old club, and boy was it a good one.
He was on the receiving end of some good fortune in the buildup. Bartlomiej Dragowski flapped at a cross in from the left, and Nikola Milenkovic only managed to head the ball right to him. Berna took the ball down with his chest and then hit an outrageous half-volley that got up over Dragowski’s hand and back down to settle comfortably into the back of the net. The goal doubled Juve’s advantage on aggregate and put them comfortably on the path for their third straight appearance in the final, doing so in style.
1) Juan Cuadrado, Serie A Round 16, vs. Genoa
I mean, when someone scores an Olimpico it’s not not going to be in the top spot.
Cuadrado had three other goals on the short list for this ranking (which, for the record, had about 33 goals on it). None of them quite squeezed their way in, but frankly this goal already held this spot even before I started going through video.
Scoring a goal directly from a corner is one of the most difficult things to do in football, and Cuadrado somehow managed to make it look effortless. Sirigu had absolutely zero chance at that ball. It’s simply a thing of beauty.
What was particularly crazy was that it was the second Olimpico in Serie A that weekend—Hakan Calhanoglu had done it for Inter the day before. But while Calhanoglu’s had snuck in at the near post and benefitted from a howler by Rui Patricio, Cuadrado’s was a back-post outswinger that curved in so hard it simply beat the keeper.
If there was one downside to this goal, it’s that for the next couple weeks Cuadrado started actively trying to do it again, perhaps wasting some good opportunities as he tried to match his own feat. But I can live with that having been able to watch a piece of skill this sublime. It was truly the best goal the team scored all year long.