The opening 45 minutes of Saturday night’s Derby della Mole were not great. It was described as “cagey” by some, but it’s pretty safe to say that both goalkeepers weren’t exactly busy or really anything close to it. It had you wondering what both managers might do at the half to try and get some sort of upperhand in the second half.
For Juventus manager Max Allegri, it was simple: bring on Arek Milik.
And boy, did that work out to be what Juve needed to look more of a threat in attack.
It took Juventus all of two minutes into the second half for Juventus to find the back of the net and break the deadlock, although very much not in any kind of way that you will see in the running for goal of the season down the road in May after a lengthy VAR review. Milik, who missed out on last weekend’s trip to Bergmao, doubled Juventus’ lead 15 minutes later with a thunderous header to allow Allegri’s squad to both take complete control of the game and also play a little more freely in a 2-0 win over Torino at the Allianz Stadium.
It was the kind of relatively straightforward and no-nonsense kind of second half that Juventus truly needed after coming away with one point in a very winnable game against Atalanta last weekend. And considering that we’re now at the October international break, you gotta think that this is a good way to go into it knowing how things had gone the last couple of weeks.
Oh, and the added twist to the story when it comes to the first of Juve’s two goal scorers?
️: "My son is very close to his grandfather, he went straight to him, who was very excited about the move to Juventus, even though our whole family supports Torino."— Bianconeri Zone (@BianconeriZone) February 3, 2022
That’s right, folks — in an interview a year and a half ago, Gatti’s father says that the entire family supports Torino. Gatti, now very much in the Juventus ecosystem and somebody who’s easy to root for based on his passion for the shirt and the simple details of his backstory, probably had his entire family split in two as he was celebrating a goal with the curva sud against the same club that his family supports.
That family dinner sure is going to be a little more interesting than usual the next time they all meet up, isn’t it? Ah, to be a fly on that wall ...
In all seriousness, though, this felt like the kind of game that Juventus needed to have after a tough couple of weeks. Did it help that Torino are, again, a team that truly struggles to both generate scoring chances and put away the chances they do get? Of course it did. When it takes you a full 90 minutes before you put something on frame, that just shows how tough it’s been for you going forward all day long.
Thankfully, Juve were able to take advantage of those Torino struggles going forward. It took a bit, but it happened. And the introduction of Milik, the first real reference point Juve had up front in the game, was what kicked things into gear.
There was just more of a natural flow to things compared to the opening 45 minutes. Instead of Fabio Miretti being deployed in a No. 10 role that still seems to not fit hm well, you had somebody like Milik who was not only able to be a threat in the air but also bring a little more of a natural order to things in attack.
The proof of that was in how Juventus played after the break.
Credit to Allegri for realizing the decision to start Miretti — rather than somebody like Kenan Yildiz like was rumored much of the last three days — wasn’t working and quickly pull the trigger to go with Milik, who you have to think probably would have started if he had more minutes in his legs. The first half wasn’t great for a handful of reasons. But with the introduction of Milik, Juve were a much more dangerous team in the final third and the change in personnel was a direct result of that.
It all added up to yet another win over Torino. And when you consider what the Turin derby was like the last time these two teams played, a relatively low-key, straightforward and drama-free win seemed like a pretty good alternative.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND RANDOM OBSERVATIONS
- I’d say this is pretty good, don’t you think?
- Can we declare that Juventus’ press and high-tempo tactics from the first few weeks of the season are dead? Because this again was very much not a high press and what we saw in late-August and early-September.
- Really didn’t need Antonio Sanabria coming that close to scoring right before stoppage time. I enjoyed the fact that Juve were in control for pretty much the entire second half.
- The two teams combined for one shot on target in the first half. Offensive juggernauts.
- Moise Kean touched the ball 16 times in the first half. It was just a shame that the touch that didn’t count ended up being a goal that, while called off for being offside, was some hit. He struck that shot about as pure as can be.
- Kean, overall, was much better once Milik came on and allowed him to play more of a supporting role rather than trying to lead the line. When it comes to Kean going forward, you gotta believe that’s the kind of role that suits him better than being a direct backup in the mold of Dusan Vlahovic.
- Wojciech Szczesny got another shutout to his name and his first save of the night came in the 85th minute. That’ll do.
- It was a very brief cameo in the second half, but Kenan Yildiz showed that he is very much a piece for the future. He’s 18, just got his first call-up to Turkey’s senior national team and is already getting minutes in Serie A. Now we just sit back and watch him develop into something special because everything is telling us he can be just that.
- Bremer took the Giorgio Chiellini-like headband one step further in this game as he added the big patch above his eye after the collision in the box right before Gatti scored. He was on the ground for a long time, too, and you gotta think he’s going to have a nice mark or two to show off the next few days after all that.
- Bremer, Gatti and Danilo were all so solid at the back against Torino, too. It helps that Torino is not very good in attack, but we’ve also seen Juve turn bad attacking teams into ones that can hang around and find the back of the net. Not in this game.
- Timothy Weah’s shoulder hammered against the Allianz Stadium turf all of 15 seconds into this one and had to be bugging him the rest of the night. It got to a point where he needed Weston McKennie to take all of the throw-ins on the right side of the field because it would result in too much pain. (Just go back and look at Weah’s reaction to the first throw-in he attempted after the collision. It was not good.) Credit to him for playing a full 90.
- Welcome back, Filip Kostic. That’s more like it.
- Another solid night for Manuel Locatelli. It wasn’t spectacular, but it wasn’t awful, either. For all of the struggles Juve’s midfield has had, they just need him to be steady right now.
- Through the season’s first eight games, Torino has scored six goals and allowed nine. Nice.
- OK, so now it’s the international break. Here’s to hoping that, outside of any Paul Pogba news, things are pretty quiet and don’t have us wishing that there were just games to talk about. Yeah, a quiet international break outside of PogDrama would be nice.