At the very least, we found out that this Juventus team has plenty of fight in it.
When it was four minutes in and Ademola Lookman was credited with a goal that Wojciech Szczesny should be catching 11 times out of 10, I wasn’t so sure we’d be saying that.
A tumultuous week came to its apex Sunday night. Just 48 or so hours after Juventus saw a 15-point penalty handed down as a result of the ongoing plusvalenza investigation(s), the first game since said decision saw Max Allegri’s squad having to fight out of an extremely early hole before they could truly get a feel for their red-hot opposition. Fight back they had to do on more than more occasion, with Danilo’s right-footed heat-seeking missile capping a night in which Juve’s defense was not great, the attack fairly effective for the first time in a long time and the refereeing ... well, we won’t go there just yet.
Could it have been much, much worse after Szczesny’s biggest blunder of the season? Yes.
Should it have been much, much better with how Juve played after falling behind 1-0 and then 3-2 as well as the manner in which they allowed Atalanta to score their goals? Yes.
Both are very much applicable in this case because it was just that kind of roller coaster of a match that probably wouldn’t have surprised anybody had it finished 4-3 or 5-4 based on how things were going.
In the end, though, it will feel much more like two points lost rather than a point earned because of the way that everything went down.
And let’s face it: As poor as Juventus’ defense was at times — and especially during the goals that Atalanta scored — this could have spiraled into something much, much worse than what it ended up being. That’s the positive part of it. Juventus’ players had the kind of reaction — even with everything that has gone on the last couple of days and all the talk surrounding the club since Friday — that you want to see every single time they fall behind but haven’t necessarily delivered over the course of Allegri’s second stint as manager.
That’s part of the reason why it feels like two points lost.
Juventus deserved more from this despite the fact that the score favored Atalanta after just 3 1⁄2 minutes. Juve had the right fight back, and outside of the first parts of both halves were definitely the better team on the night.
We haven’t been able to say that often this season. But on this night they were — and for that we should be happy with how the responded but also a little frustrated that they didn’t come away with more than a point knowing just how valuable points are now compared to a few days ago.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- The second the Serie A advertisements were brought out for the pre-game procedures, a chorus of boos and whistles rained down from the Allianz Stadium crowd. GOOD.
- The same happened when the Serie A anthem was played after the players lined up before shaking hands. That, also, was GOOD.
- Well, at least one of the three penalties Juve probably deserved to get was called. It’s usually not even that good of a percentage. Bravo on being right a third of the time, Serie A!
- Angel Di Maria brought the goods to this game, man. He was phenomenal.
- There was a point in one first-half venture forward that Di Maria was 1-on-5 and he still tried to break an ankle or two and make something happen. (You also hoped that somebody would get there to help a guy out, but it is what it is, I guess.)
- The combination play between Di Maria, Nicolo Fagioli and Arek Milik on Juve’s go-ahead goal late in the first half was some of the best football this Juventus team has played all season. That might be considered a low bar for some of you, but that’s the good stuff no matter how conservative your manager is.
- It’s times like that in which you just hope Allegri let his players play and not put the clamps on them so many times. You just fear what the last two defensive performances against Serie A opposition will do for a guy who is more than happy to put everybody behind the ball against even the smallest of clubs.
- Juventus has allowed eight goals in its last two Serie A games.
- Juventus allowed seven goals in its first 17 Serie A games.
- Juventus went from eight straight clean sheets against Serie A opposition to allowing eight goals in two games against Serie A opposition.
- All of those numbers being said, I thought Bremer (for the most part) had a pretty good bounce back game after his disaster of a night against Napoli. Even when he did make a mistake he was there to mop up the mess quite quickly.
- Put Nicolo Fagioli full time no matter who’s healthy and don’t look back, Max. It’s time. The midfield is just a different animal when Fagioli is there compared to when he’s on the bench.
- I know transfers are what they are with the current state Juve is in, but holy crap I would like to request one Giorgio Scalvini on about a 10-year contract, please.
- Alex Sandro’s defending on Atalanta’s third goal was ... my goodness that was bad.
- Juan Cuadrado was subbed on, making his first appearance since mid-November. Dude was in complete YOLO mode, basically reminding us that while he’s capable of some really good things he also is here to frustrate the living hell out of you sometimes, too.
- As we know with Wojciech Szczesny, sometimes his mistakes come in bunches. Let’s hope that he can put Sunday’s massive blunder behind him and prevent a repeat of last season in which he had a prolonged spell of miscues.
- All that being said, I still don’t know what Szczesny was trying to do on Lookman’s first goal. And that’s coming from a former goalkeeper. Just catch the ball, my man. You were in the right position.
- Arek Milik has just scored his beautiful goal to give Juve a 2-1 lead, the Allianz Stadium is jacked up for very good reason and despite all of that noise you could still hear Carlo Pinsoglio at full volume rooting his teammates on. That was obviously a well-placed field microphone as well as a very loud man.
- You know it’s a quiet night for Filip Kostic when he starts a game, plays over 60 minutes and only attempts TWO crosses. Yes, TWO CROSSES. For the dude who does nothing but cross.
- I like Federico Chiesa playing with a little bit of sass and attitude to his game like he had against Atalanta. I suspect being tackled in the way he was a few times knowing full well it took 10 months to get back to full health had a little something to do with it. Talk your talk, though, Fred.
- Juventus now has a week in between games, a slight respite to try and regroup and figure a few things out before facing Monza for the second time in less than two weeks. Let’s just hope that some of the focus in training by Allegri involves DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE.