Even if it was a simple tap in from a few yards out, Federico Chiesa’s first goal back from injury was always going to be a special one. That’s only natural for the journey he’s been on for the last 12 months. He has gotten his official return to the field out of the way, his first start since tearing his ACL out of the way, got his first assist since returning in the bank, and the only thing that was left to do was to put his name on the scoresheet.
Freddy Church did a little bit more than just a simple tap in.
Three-hundred and seventy-eight days after his last goal, Chiesa is on the scoresheet again. And it sure was a good one, too. Oh man, it was a good one. Chiesa didn’t just give Juventus the 2-1 win over Monza on Thursday night with his goal off the bench that secured the Bianconeri a spot in the Coppa Italia quarterfinals, he scored what will end up being one of the candidates for Juve goal of the season. It was a move straight out of FIFA — he blew past one defender and then dispatched another with a quick cut inside before bending his right-footed shot into the back post and leaving Monza keeper Alessio Cragno totally befuddled.
With a kiss off said back post, Chiesa checked the final box off his to-do list.
And while the celebration wasn’t one where Juve’s No. 7 was sliding on his knees and going wild as he basked in all of its glory, you know damn well it had to feel so good for a player who has waited so long to see that happen with a shot of his once again.
FEDERICO CHIESA IS BACK.— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) January 19, 2023
OFF THE BENCH TO SAVE THE DAY FOR JUVENTUS. pic.twitter.com/pzTIzvUIOG
That smile. That wonderful smile that Federico Chiesa has. It just warms your heart.
And as the match announcer in the tweet above, there was only one thing that would have kept Valentin Antov from getting sent off — Chiesa scoring a goal. None of us probably thought it would be that beautiful of a goal, but it was going to have to be a goal nonetheless.
It sure was. And Juventus needed it in the worst possible way.
As good as it was to see
Max Allegri Marco Landucci roll out the kiddos and do some major squad rotation as one is want to do in the first few games of the Coppa Italia before the number of teams still alive can be counted on one hand, this ended up being the kind of night where Juve again risked things going very, very bad. Juve left it late again, with Chiesa’s goal coming in the 78th minute and Monza very much seeing more of the ball over the course of the second half.
Case in point: There was a period of time in the second half in which the possession numbers were so much in favor of Monza, 60%-to-40%, that you would have thought Juventus was the lesser team and one that wasn’t as talented as its opposition.
Yet, there Juve was, playing counterattacking ball against Monza at the Allianz Stadium.
That’s nothing new, I guess. The good thing is that Federico Chiesa is healthy again and is now getting closer and closer to resembling the player that we were starting to consider the best in Europe. He’s not there yet, obviously, but with every goal like he scored against Monza then things are looking brighter and brighter.
Amazing what happens when he’s played in a more attacking position, huh? Who knew.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Juventus are now undefeated since Gianluca Ferrero took over as president.
- Pre-game thought No. 1: Nicolo Fagioli! Fabio Miretti! Matias Soulé! Samuel Iling-Junior! Release the kiddies!
- Pre-game thought No. 2: We also get Filippo Ranocchia! Too bad Nicolo Rovella only came off the bench or else it could have been a pair of starting lineups full of young Juventus and Juventus-owned midfielders.
- That’s five goals in his last five starts for Moise Kean. He’s already matched his entire goal tally from last season and there’s still the second half of the 2022-23 campaign to go. I dunno, maybe he should start often!
- Rafa Palladino — so handsome.
- Rafa Palladino in that suit — even more handsome.
- Juventus’ marking on Monza’s game-tying goal in the first half — not as pretty as Rafa Palladino. Not even close.
- Samuel Iling-Junior is certainly no natural wingback, but boy watching him get going at full speed on the left wing and cook the man marking him multiple times sure was fun to watch.
- I would not be opposed to seeing Filippo Ranocchia get a shot at staying at Juventus next season. I know it’s probably a long shot with so many other young midfielders around, but the guy — at age 21! — is showing he can hang during his first season in Serie A.
- Angel Di Maria trying that move to try to score Juve’s third goal took some cajones. When you’re feeling good after winning the World Cup a month ago, you’re feeling good. Poor Cragno if that ball was lofted well over his head instead of being a relatively easy save.
- Some of the interplay between Fagioli and Soulé — most notably right before Kean’s goal — was pretty fun to watch. They’re rather simpatico out there, and you can see why.
- Also on Kean’s goal: Weston McKennie’s cross to Kean was pinpoint perfect. You can’t put it on a silver platter for a striker any better than that.
- This was another example of why Juventus shouldn’t even risk Leandro Paredes’ appearance clause kicking into effect. Outside of a few nice passes (short or long), this was a pretty forgettable night for a player who has had a pretty forgettable season.
- Solid night for Federico Gatti. He needed that one.
- Fagioli completed 93% of his passes. That’ll play.
- Despite Monza having all that possession, Mattia Perin had to make all of ... two saves.
- Monza had nine corner kicks. At times it felt like twice that amount — and that’s a lot of corners to begin with, folks.
- Juventus recorded 10 key passes as a team against Monza. In a weird twist, not one player had more than one key pass. Can’t remember the last time I’ve seen something like that.
- It will be Juventus vs. Lazio in the Coppa Italia quarterfinals. Guessing the chance of seeing Juve eliminate a Maurizio Sarri-coached team would make a few people around here smile.