Your beloved Juventus of Turin was — for a few hours at least — on top of the table of Serie A this past weekend.
You’d be forgiven if this was exciting as a fan despite the transitory nature of Juventus being league leaders, but it had been three years since the last time we saw the Bianconeri reach those lofty heights in the league.
And boy, did they take the hardest possible route to victory as Juventus beat Hellas Verona 1-0 on Saturday thanks to a buzzer-beating goal from Andrea Cambiasso in a game in which the home side had everything go against them.
MVP: Moise Kean
I don’t care that Kean got a brace stolen from him — he gets the MVP nod in my book despite the highway robbery he endured.
With Federico Chiesa still not having a full 90 minutes in his legs, Kean got the nod again to start opposite of the returning Dusan Vlahovic, and he had his best game of the season. He displayed all his best traits, leading the line for Juventus and using his speed and physicality to be a constant threat to the Hellas Verona backline.
Kean was able to get the ball in the back of the net twice even though neither of them counted, one header saved by an excellent Verona keeper Lorenzo Montipo reflex parry and another shot that went agonizingly close to the post. With just a tiny bit of better luck, Kean could have had himself a hat trick with the way he played.
Minutes are going to be hard to come by once Chiesa is fully back, but it’s great to see Kean putting it all together for this stretch he’s getting the chance to start.
Runner Up: Bremer - The man continues to lead Juve’s backline as he had another stout day on defense. Verona has a pretty toothless attack but to allow another professional team only one shot on goal is nothing to sneeze at.
Changing of the Tide
This game had every single sign of more dropped point for Juventus.
Whether it was the two VAR assisted disallowed goals, the unbelievably exasperating lack of clinical finishing, or the sheer number of barely missed opportunities, the signs were there. For the last three years, Juventus doesn’t find the breakthrough and ends up dropping points, we had seen this movie before.
Yet, this time around it ended up differently for the Bianconeri.
You can find a hint of why it was different this time around in the video above, around the 3:50 mark when referee Ermano Feliciani is walking towards the pitch ready to
blatantly shiv disallow Juve’s second goal of the evening. As soon as he signals that the goal is not valid, Vlahovic takes the whole thing with defiance, instead of complaining to the ref or pleading their case it’s more of an attitude of “We will score again, do whatever you want.”
And the team indeed never let up, there was no panicky moment in which the other team takes control or long moments of sloppy play in which they are clearly not there mentally. They just kept plugging at it and while they still missed their chances, mind you, they generated them a plenty.
This is a team that — wrong or right — has been marked as a mentally weak team that can’t overcome the breaks of the game going the opposite way. And say what you will, they really hadn’t done much to beat those allegations for the past few years.
This game, however, was the first real moment in which Juventus felt like the Juve of old. The team that was going to find a way to get the result no matter what and no matter how many bounces went the opposite way.
Defense Wins Championships
Juventus might not technically boast the best defense in the league, as Inter Milan has allowed one fewer goal than the Turin based club so far. But, that being said, there’s a case that Juve’s defense has been the best in the league despite that statistic.
With their clean sheet against Verona, they now have five shutouts in a row and seven in the first 10 games this season. Considering that they allowed four goals in their disaster class against Sassuolo, that makes only two goals allowed in the other nine games.
Pretty much every successful team in Juve history has been successful because of a sturdy defense, and the unit led by Max Allegri so far is making a pretty strong statement so far.
Despite losing captain and stalwart of this unit in Danilo the last few games this team hasn’t missed a beat with Daniele Rugani stepping in that role and being just as reliable as Juve’s Brazilian captain.
Offensively, this team still has some ways to go as they boast only the sventh-best attack in Serie A, but not allowing goals is the first step towards long term success and they are doing a hell of a job in that department.
Parting Shot of the Week
Despite the short-lived excitement of leading the league, Juve did climb one spot in the table as AC Milan dropped points against Napoli. So now, the Bianconeri now find themselves firmly entrenched in second place and trail Inter by two points.
We are less than a third of the way into the season, I get it, but this is as close as Juve has been to competing for a title in a second and at then of the year every point counts, doesn’t matter if you get them in October or in April.
Excitement is high in Juventus land, let’s hope it continues this way.
See you Sunday.