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Manu’s Grab Bag: Glass half full, glass half empty

We talk the expected beatdown that wasn’t, moral victories and talent tiers.

Paris Saint-Germain vs Juventus - UEFA Champions League Photo by Philippe Signe/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Chalk that result as one that solves nothing for anybody.

The #AllegriOut crew wanted blood on the streets and a historic drubbing that would force the Juventus management team’s hand and induce an unprecedented early season firing of the man that elicits that very hashtag, Max Allegri.

The believers in the Italian amongst us hoped for another massive upset similar to the one he engineered in the Champions League group stage against Chelsea last year in which an underdog Juventus upset the reigning European champions.

Instead, we got neither, as Juventus played the exact type of game that allows both sides to remain deeply entrenched in their camps. The 2-1 defeat that Juventus suffered Tuesday night at the Parc des Princes means whatever you want it to mean.

It’s either a valiant effort from a team still building, against a historically talented attacking trident and a squad that should be in contention for the biggest trophy in club soccer. Or, it’s just another example of Juventus continuing their decline and another nail in the coffin of a has been coach who will never experience success again.

The only fact is that Juventus failed to score points from their first European matchup. Everything else is up for debate.

Let’s cook.

LVP: Leo Bonucci

Leonardo Bonucci is 35 years old and Tuesday night he looked every bit of those 35 years of age.

Upon closer inspection, I don’t think he’s 100% liable for the goals that Juventus allowed and, to be fair, having to defend against Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi is a task that very few defenders are up to the challenge regardless of age. But in a match that was decided in large part by the team that had the better players, Bonucci looked woefully out of his depth.

We’ve talked before about how Juventus is thin at the center back position so it’s not like you can criticize Allegri a ton for relying on the veteran for a big European game. But games like these leave you wondering if Bonucci’s elite days are maybe more in the rearview mirror than we would like to admit.

Grab Bag MVP Season Leader: Dusan Vlahovic (6 Points)

Trial by Fire

Paris Saint-Germain is the best team that Juventus has faced this season. Hell, there might not be a better team they face all year in domestic competition and maybe overall depending how things go in Europe.

At the best of times, Juventus would be an underdog against the oil-built offensive behemoth that has been assembled in Paris. Add to it an absolutely ravenous home crowd and the fact that the Bianconeri are not currently undergoing the best of times, and it was always going to be tough to get a good result.

Juventus is not and should not be in the business of feel-good losses, but as losses go, am I completely wrong to say this was pretty decent?

Leandro Paredes had his best game as a Juve player — which is not saying much given this was his second overall, but still — and showed exactly the type of player that Juve had been missing at the position in the midfield. Adrien Rabiot was quietly effective at his role yet again. Arkadiusz Milik and Dusan Vlahovic showed they can play together, Weston McKennie showed signs of life and through significant stretches of the game. As a whole, Juventus had PSG — again one of the best, what, four or five best teams in the world right now? — under serious duress.

Sure, PSG bottled some chances that could have put the game away, but Juve also had close calls that could have switched the game around — Milik’s header being the most important one. If we are going to count all the chances that could have been goals as scores, then every game would finish 6-5. And, when it was all said and done, PSG only outshot Juve by two.

Again, losses are never good, but considering the rival, the form both teams were coming into and — frankly — the expectations we had coming into the game, I find more reasons to believe this game showed us why this team can improve instead of why we should get accustomed to moral victories only.

Class Differences

If you were to draft all the players on the field in order, how long would it take you to take the first Juventus player? I think the fourth, maybe fifth pick?

Sure, Bonucci is old and Bremer was playing his very first European game, but even a prime BBC would have struggled to defend some of the stuff Mbappe was doing.

To me, the very best players manage to make the game look easy. They make someone who’s new to the sport look at a guy play and think “Well, why doesn’t everyone do this?”

Really, just look at that first goal — that comes out of nowhere. It’s so simple on the surface, but the technical skill and ability to make that pass and finish with that shot is so insanely difficult to do that it makes it look easy.

We’ve weirdly gotten used to wunderkind type of players that we sometimes forget how insane it is that Mbappe, at 23 years old, is doing this type of stuff. I know our very own Dusan Vlahovic compares favorably to some of the other young starlets of the game and while he has shown on occasion to have the ability to leave you with your jaw on the floor, he is still miles away from being able to singlehandedly break open a game the way we saw the French international do on Tuesday.

Argue tactics, argue players, it’s all part of the game. But sometimes there’s a guy in the other team that is so bonkers good that there’s very little you can do other than to admit you got beat and hope that one day you have a guy of that level on your team. Juventus currently does not, but one day, maybe ...

Loser: Fabio Miretti

Fabio Miretti! Come back down to earth, my child.

Look, we are all still bullish on the teenage sensation that has every Juventus fan ordering the young man’s work shirt. And one bad game against an elite team does not and should not change his continued improvement and rise.

With all that being said, it’s impossible to say that my guy did not look like he was the proverbial deer in the headlights.

Still, in a weird way, it was encouraging to see that Allegri trusts him to the level of starting him in these types of games, and despite him not being able to put in the best shift, I’m sure he will be roaring to go against domestic competition on the weekend given he only played 45 minutes.

(All the “Allegri doesn't trust young players” thing needs to stop. Allegri doesn’t trust young players who aren’t good enough, but Miretti joins the long list of dudes who have found plenty of playing time when they show they can step up to the plate.)

Parting Shot of the Week

It was a loss, sure, but goddamn there’s just nothing like a big European game, huh? The packed crowd, the big time names and teams going at it? We laugh and joke about Juve’s shortcomings in the competition but there’s always something special about playing midweek under the lights like that.

With a decidedly less glamorous — but significantly more beatable — opponent in Salernitana the difference will be stark this weekend.

Either way, this Grab Bag wasn’t a ranking of all the seven goals PSG was going to get past us, so it’s all gravy for your boy at this point to be honest.

See you Sunday.