Well, at least Dusan Vlahovic is dialed in from free kick situations.
Because I really don’t have much else to take out of this one, folks. I can try, I can even try and stretch things or try to spin things from the so-so into the somewhat positive, but when you play as poorly as Juventus did against an opponent like Spezia on Wednesday night, it’s not like I want to sit here and gush about Max Allegri’s squad.
Yes, Juve won 2-0, but it was very much a case of the laborious ways of the 2021-22 season coming back to show its face again after Vlahovic’s absolutely perfect ninth-minute free kick gave his team an early lead. It was the kind of performance against a Spezia side that barely avoided relegation last season and has won only one of its first three games this season that didn’t inspire much confidence — or breed much enjoyment — over the course of the first midweek fixture of many coming up over the next two months.
Juventus struggled to put much of anything on target outside of Vlahovic’s early free kick — the second game in which he’s scored from a dead-ball situation — and second-half header that was just barely cleared off the line. Entering the final half hour of play, Vlahovic’s free kick was the only shot Juve had put on target, with Spezia keeper Bartlomiej Dragowski and his nice kit number not nearly having as much to do in goal as the match announcers made you think right before kickoff.
But that’s the thing, though. Against two of the worst opponents on the schedule thus far, Juventus has played, on the whole, not even close to average. It’s been a slog, a grind, whatever you want to call it — it just hasn’t been very good at all.
Of course this time it’s nice to say that they didn’t drop points and were actually able to get the win, which was something we couldn’t acknowledge during the suckfest that was Juve’s scoreless draw against Sampdoria last week. It didn’t feel much different even though Juve played with the lead for all but the opening eight-plus minutes. Things were not good going forward, the passing was not very good no matter what the stats will tell us and the defense was just all over the place for large stretches of time.
SPEZIA, PEOPLE! SPEZIA!
We said it after the season-opening win over Sassuolo and we thought the same thing coming out of the first half against Roma: You want Juventus to build off these quality performances and good moments and try to get something going. But then you have the performance against Sampdoria that followed up the Sassuolo win. Then you have this performance against Spezia to follow up the really good first half against Roma.
This team clearly has it in them. They’ve showed it to us already this season.
They just can’t make it stick. Some of that is on the players, some of it is on the manager. At this point, it’s on all of them to get it going for more than just for 45 minutes a week. Through four games, Juve’s played a couple of good halves and then thrown up a couple of absolute duds against potential relegation battlers. With the big fixtures coming up again this weekend and then in Europe next week, we still don’t really know what this Juve team is all about — and going into your fifth game of the season, that’s not always a great place to be in.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Pre-game thought No. 1: Freddie Cats!
- Pre-game thought No. 2: Fabio Miretti!
- Pre-game thought No. 3: Those black away kits — even though they were worn at home on this night — are just so slick and nice and I need Juve’s online store to restock my size.
- Pre-game thought No. 4: Angel Di Maria back! Well, at least on the bench.
- Prayer circle needed for Wojciech Szczesny’s ankle. It’s never a good thing when the player who just got injured is signaling for a sub almost at the same point in which they first react to the injury happening. That did not look good at all for Tek and my gut tells me we’re going to be seeing Mattia Perin starting in goal for a while.
- Here’s a reminder of just what kind of meteoric rise Federico Gatti has been on the last few years. No matter how his Juventus career ends up going, it’s the kind of stuff in which movies are made.
- Leaving this here: Claudio Marchisio said some nice things about Fabio Miretti. RIP to all of your feelings because this has my heart going pitter-patter.
- That Miretti assist on Arek Milik’s stoppage-time goal in the second half ... just beautiful.
- Honestly, the turns from both Miretti and Milik on that goal were pretty damn nice.
- Dusan Vlahovic has that look of a dude who is just so locked in on free kicks that you just have to step aside and let him work. I don’t care where the ball is placed anymore — Dusan needs to be the guy who takes 95 percent of the free kicks Juve take whenever he is on the field.
- With Gatti making his debut and Danilo out wide, this felt like the first time Bremer was truly the guy leading Juventus’ defense. And, for the most part, he looked pretty comfortable with it after shaking off some early moments of struggle. No matter how meh the opponent is, that’s a tough spot to be put into, and he did quite well.
- Let’s just hope he was subbed off late in the second half for a little rest and not due to injury.
- Sorry, but with the way things are going right now, it’s hard not to think somebody is injured whenever they’re a surprise substitution. Like, Di Maria and Filip Kostic coming on made total sense, but Bremer coming off as Juve was hanging onto a 1-0 lead didn’t exactly scream something along the lines of “Yeah, I get that one, Max.”
- I love Fabio Miretti.
- My adopted son from previous seasons was sold to Tottenham in January and I have found a new midfielder to take his place. He’s Italian and he’s becoming the hometown star. Watching this kid break into this team right in front of our eyes is so cool to see.
- The best part of the Miretti breakthrough is that he’s forcing the issue and basically putting the decision on Allegri at this point. Like, how can Allegri justify sitting Miretti at this point other than for squad rotation in a week or two? Miretti is Juventus’ most in-form midfielder right now and it’s not really all that close.
- Just in case you’re wondering, Paris Saint-Germain won 3-0 over Toulouse and Lionel Messi was a terror at the same time Juventus was grinding out a 1-0 win over freakin’ Spezia.
- When I think of late-game subs to come on to hold down the fort and see out a win and a clean sheet, I think of ... Alex Sandro? No, I don’t think about bringing him on.
- In conclusion, Juventus getting three points against relegation battlers is better than getting one point against a relegation battler.
- Also in conclusion: I love Fabio Miretti.