As Juventus went into the World Cup break on a six-game domestic winning streak, I don’t think anybody could deny that not every one of those wins were exactly pretty. While they were wins and three points earned, it’s not like the overall team performances were plenty to write (good things) home about.
As Juventus made it seven straight on Wednesday night, that fact still remained.
In what could have been a somewhat predictable showing in many people’s eyes based on the fact that they haven’t played a competitive game together in 52 days, Juve were saved by Arek Milik’s stoppage-time free kick that just snuck into the bottom corner of the Cremonese goal. The 91st-minute goal gave Juventus the 1-0 win and extended its winning streak against Serie A opposition on a night in which the overall team performance in the first game back from the World Cup break was completely reminiscent of so many bad Max Allegri 2.0 showings of the past 18 months.
Juve needed to use every bit of luck in this one, and thankfully they didn’t drop points to a relegation battler ... again.
Could Marco Carnesecchi have done better on the shot? Yeah, definitely.
Could Carnesecchi have set up his wall (with a fourth man) to help himself out? Absolutely.
But that left-footed bolt of lightning from Milik had one destination from the get-go and it was up to the young Italian keeper to try and stop it. He didn’t, and suddenly Juventus players, coaches and fans alike finally had something good to celebrate.
And probably a reason to exhale, too.
I know I did. I’m guessing that some of you reading this post did the same. It was most definitely one of those nights in which Juve’s overall product was not very good or anything close to it.
But, the end result was thankfully one that Juve needed to both keep the winning streak (and shutout streak) going as well as simply keep pace with those in front of them at minimum.
With the amount of shots Juventus ended up creating (19), there’s no reason why this game should have been decided in second-half stoppage time. At the same time, though, Juve could have easily found themselves down after Cremonese hit the post not once but twice in the second half. This could have been even worse than relying on a last-minute free kick that just snuck in past the diving keeper. It could have been a lot worse.
The good thing is that it wasn’t.
Thanks to Arek Milik, we can talk about Juventus’ winning streak being intact rather than referring to this as an “unbeaten streak” heading into the weekend against Udinese.
That’s better than the alternative. And after over 50 days of no Juventus to talk about, I’m fine talking about Juve eking out a win rather than being dumb and dropping points against a club they have no business dropping points against.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Never in doubt, right?
- NEVER IN DOUBT!
- Seriously, though. That was a TOUGH watch. Like really, really though.
- Milik’s goal was the only shot he attempted all game. Whatever works, I guess.
- There was a point late in the first half in which Milik dropped so deep he was around the midfield circle and I was suddenly having flashbacks to Paulo Dybala in a Juve jersey. (I miss those days. I miss Paulo, too.)
- Outside of the issue(s) on the goal, Marco Carnesecchi played very well in what some in the Italian press will probably bill as an audition of sorts with Federico Cherubini in the crowd. (Not like he wouldn’t be there otherwise knowing how few people are actually left in the Juve front office.) He made seven saves, with the majority of them being very good. He surely would have liked an eighth and final save, but that didn’t happen. I’m cool with Juve trying to sign him this summer because, at 22, he looks like a very good player in the making.
- Plus he looked like a total badass in that Cremonese keeper kit.
- It took less than four minutes after coming on for Adrien Rabiot to get a yellow card. That’s the Rabiot I know and don’t necessarily love.
- It truly is remarkable that Fabio Miretti looked his best for a five-minute span after Federico Chiesa and Moise Kean came on, shifting the young Italian midfielder actually into a natural position. I wonder why that was the case, folks. Maybe, just maybe, HE WAS PLAYING A POSITION THAT SUITS HIM BEST. Thank you.
- It was that brief time of this game in which Juventus looked attack-minded and created a handful of chances all within a couple of minutes. I miss that time already.
- Speaking of Federico Chiesa, please tell me he’s not going to be playing as a wingback when he’s back in the starting lineup because anything other than seeing him as a pure winger feels like a waste of his unique skillset. Don’t do it, Max. Don’t you dare do it.
- Matias Soule, also not a wingback. At least not right now, and maybe not ever. The tricks and everything are fun to watch, but the turnovers and the misplaced passes aren’t as enjoyable.
- I’m guessing getting hooked in the 55th minute was not what Nicolo Fagioli envisioned as a nice return to Cremona after the season he had there last year in helping Cremonese get promoted to Serie A.
- Sofascore tells me Juventus completed 81 percent of its attempted passes and I don’t believe them.
- I know the play was ruled offside, but that potential goal in the first half in which Wojciech Szczesny completely misread the ball only to have Bremer acrobatically clear the ball off the line was both really bad and then simply amazing all within about two seconds.
- Manuel Locatelli’s heat map is not encouraging for one simple fact — against a team like Cremonese, there is no reason for him to be sitting THAT deep. At times, it was almost like Locatelli was playing as a fourth center back. Just no reason for him to be like that.
- Don’t worry, you’re not the only one that thought Juventus was about to begin 2023 with a loss to a relegation battler who hasn’t won a game all season. That would have been the very on-brand thing to do during Allegri 2.0, huh?
- Thank goodness that two of those shots from Cremonese clanged off the post then. Those were sinking-feeling-in-your-stomach kind of moments.