If you weren’t disappointed enough from today’s 1-1 draw with Jose Mourinho, AS Roma, and our old friend Paulo Dybala, now you have to suffer the initial reaction and random observations from me, rather than your vastly superior captain Mr. Danny Penza, who is otherwise indisposed.
I apologize for the delay; my mother is in town watching my son, so my wife and I trotted around the hills this morning for a hike. So now, with my dogs howling after 10 tough miles, I bring you mostly mixed news.
Here is what I’ve learned — I think, with full foot-weary reservations to change my mind as the campaign goes on — through three games about Juventus: the ceiling is not terribly high, but the floor could be pretty damn low, especially if the injury plague continues to be as bad as it’s been.
The first 45 minutes are probably as high as this team is going to get, with the given personnel. Somehow Adrien Rabiot was a good midfielder; Fabio Miretti did creative things; Dušan Vlahović scored an absurd goal; and the Old Lady was robbed of a goal that perhaps should have stood. The team was energetic and hungry. Roma didn’t really threaten at all.
The second 45 minutes were an all-too-familiar tale. With a slim lead in hand and a full half of bossing around a pretty decent Roma side, Juventus incrementally ceded possession and overall control of the game. I’m not quite as down as some about the second half, but it wasn’t ideal. What really sucks is that it always felt like a second goal would’ve sealed the game; the reversed goal was dumb, but there were a couple other half-chances (a couple Cuadrado efforts come to mind) that might’ve gone in. As it stands, we didn’t score a second goal, and Roma capitalized on poor set-piece defense.
(Set pieces, set pieces, set pieces.)
In the end, we’re left with yet another “where do we place the blame” game. Another frustrating 90 minutes. Another 90 minutes of hope and despair. Another 90 minutes of Rorschach test.
I don’t know, friends. This should’ve been three points;
I don’t know what I feel. Overall: not good. Let’s react to some stuff.
- I am going to be honest: after Max Allegri slammed Miretti last week for some mistakes that the youngster made (or Allegri thought he made), I thought for sure the teenager would be riding the pine for a full 90 minutes. So credit where credit is due: Allegri started Miretti, and the kid is honestly looking like our most dynamic and creative midfielder. After the game, Allegri went so far as to say “there aren’t many like [Miretti].” That gets me pumped, because it might mean that Miretti becomes a regular fixture.
- Miretti is better at finding space than any Juventus midfielder besides Pogba. Fight me.
- Raise your hand if you knew Vlahović could do that. Not me!
- Johnny Square needs a break, in my humble opinion.
- Filip Kostic has a remarkable number of crosses blocked to smithereens, but that was a lovely move in the 32nd minute to turn and burst forward; Miretti just didn’t have the composure to finish the move.
- If there are suitors for Denis Zakaria, I think we should make any profit there is to be made.
- At the end of the day — and I know there are fairly large segments of the Juventus fan base that don’t want to hear this — we don’t have the money to field a deep squad. There is never going to be a game across the entire campaign, even when the injured players return, when you don’t look at the field and say: “Boy, it’s pretty crazy that [INSERT MEDIOCRE PLAYER’S NAME] is on the pitch.”
- Alex Sandro on the Roma goal: woof. C’mon dude. You had one job.
- I don’t think Dybala would move the needle for us. He grabbed a sort of goofy assist for Roma thanks to Sandro but for most of the game he displayed some of the less savory parts of his game: he gets marked and bullied pretty easily, to the point where you forget he’s on the field for long, long stretches at a time. Combine that with the fact that he doesn’t contribute at all defensively (you know what I mean), and you’re left with a player whose best offer, in the prime of his career, was Roma. I’m sorry to bring you the facts.
- A more positive spin on personnel: Federico Chiesa, Paul Pogba, and Angel Di Maria will variously return and play for this team at some point. Looking up and down the roster, those three guys are arguably the team’s best three players, so I’d imagine that even getting one of them back would be a great help.
- One probably would’ve hoped for seven minimum points through the first three games given the opponents; instead we have five. It could be worse — just ask last year.
- So I think, at this point, that’s the question we need to ask: Does there appear to be any improvement from where this squad was through the first three games last year? My answer would be “a little bit.” Given the injuries, I feel OK, but not great, about that.
- Let’s go get three points against Spezia, please.