You’d be kidding yourself if you weren’t sitting there thinking the same kind of things that you were when Juventus face Cremonese on Wednesday night.
Juventus are in position to drop points in a game in which its performance wasn’t all that great. We were preparing the pitchforks to storm the house because Juve can’t afford any dropped points these days. And, all at the same time, frustrating the living hell out of you because they’ve put themselves in this kind of position again.
Ah, but here’s the thing about this Juve team ever since the middle of October — they’re just finding away.
It wasn’t as late as things were against Cremonese, but it was awfully, awfully close in the first game at Allianz Stadium of 2023. A few seconds of absolute brilliance from second-half substitutes Leandro Paredes and Federico Chiesa set things up for captain Danilo, who slotted home the only goal of Saturday night’s 1-0 victory over Udinese that extended Juventus’ winning streak (and clean sheet streak) to eight games. Just when you didn’t think they were gonna pull another rabbit out of their hat, there was Mad Max raging on the sidelines as he did just that for the second time in a four-day span.
And as Juve honored the passing of one of their most well-known and beloved captains in Gianluca Vialli before kickoff, it was the man who has taken over the captain’s armband in recent months
Poetic in a way, isn’t it?
So now as Juventus close out the day all of four points behind Napoli and into second place ahead of Milan — with both of those teams playing Sunday night — things are getting very, very interesting when it comes to the Serie A table. Was this overall performance anything to really write home about? No, not really. Juve created a bunch of chances but it’s not like Udinese keeper Marco Silvestri was having to make save after save after save like we saw Marco Carnesecchi having to do a few days earlier. (Silvestri only made three saves all night.)
But when things were becoming a little desperate with the final minutes of regular time very much present, Juve got the moment of magic they needed.
The ball over the top to Chiesa from Paredes. The control by Chiesa to bring the ball down with his chest as he’s moving toward the end line. The pass by Chiesa with the outside of his right foot after bringing the ball down and doing all of this is in fluid motion. And, finally, Chiesa fitting said cross through perfectly to Danilo, who slammed his shot into the roof of the net from point blank range.
It was a beautiful team goal.
it was most definitely a much-needed goal.
It just kinda feels like the type of goal and win that you get when things are breaking your way and you just in the midst of a roll that Juventus are currently enjoying. Maybe in August or September this is the type of game in which Juve did drop points in. (And honestly, we’ve probably seen a few of those already this season.) But now? The vibe around this team is changing even if the overall performances aren’t exactly coming close to lighting the world on fire.
But they’ve won eight straight games, everybody. Bet you didn’t think that was possible when this team was crashing and burning and losing to Monza before the September international break.
It’s curto muso time again, my friends. Let’s ride this winning streak as long as we can.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- The pre-game tribute to Vialli was beautiful. The different songs that the stadium was signing for Vialli made things even better. That’s how you want to be honored when you pass — and Vialli is the kind of person who wholeheartedly deserves it.
- Plus, there’s the always the chance for absolutely beautiful photos like this one:
- In the match preview I had Federico Chiesa as my Juventus player to watch. That was mainly due to the fact that a good portion of the Italian media was thinking that this could be the game in which Chiesa made his first start since coming back from major knee surgery. Chiesa didn’t end up starting against Udinese, but he sure did play a pretty big role in getting Juventus the win.
- That first Chiesa start is going to happen sooner or later no matter how slow Max Allegri plays his comeback. And it’s going to be glorious. I don’t even want to imagine how many fist pumps I’m going to throw when Chiesa scores his first post-injury goal. So, so many.
- Angel Di Maria had five key passes in his 65 minutes of game time.
- Angel Di Maria had to come off the field with a reported calf injury. Of course.
- Juventus just kept its eighth clean sheet in a row with a back three consisting of two natural fullbacks and Daniele Rugani. Basically, nobody we actually expected to be a starter at the position they played on Saturday when the season started. And the defense was damn good against Udinese. Just ask Wojciech Szczesny for further confirmation of that.
- Big Dan Rugani was pretty good!
- Alex Sandro as a central defender again — also pretty good!
- Danilo, my word. That slow motion replay of the blocked shot where he’s stretched out to the max is going to be one of the lasting memories of the season. Just ultimate do-or-die defending and leading this team by the skin of his teeth. Dude’s good.
- Szczesny made three saves and I don’t really remember any of them. Those are the best games for keepers because it just shows the fellas in front of you did just about everything right.
- And yet, at the same time, I was preparing myself for a Tuco Pereyra game-winner with like five minutes left to crush all of our souls. You can’t help but go there sometimes.
- Manuel Locatelli was playing really well going into the World Cup break. Manuel locatelli is not playing very well coming out of the World Cup break. This means midseason World Cup breaks are stupid. I want my Good Loca back.
- Allegri mentioned during his pre-match press conference on Friday that Moise Kean has lost some weight and that has contributed to his resurgent form of late. You can tell that some of the things that he might not have been able to do at the beginning of the season seem a little more possible now. Even though he didn’t get a goal against Udinese, he’s certainly looking dangerous a whole lot more than he was earlier this season.
- Is Udinese manager Andrea Sottil the best dressed manager in Serie A? Discuss.
- Rumor has it Juventus’ next game is a rather important. It may be a four-point deficit in Serie A, might be a five-point deficit or it might be back to seven points. Either way, this is Allegri’s big chance to show that Juve’s winning streak can continue against the top dog in the league.