Sunday night at the Allianz Stadium proved to be one where a few of Juventus’ most prominent streaks came to an unfortunate end.
Thankfully, though, the most important streak of the 2023-24 season to date is still very much alive and will be one that Juve take into the biggest game of the year once the soon-to-be international break is a thing of the past.
Not only did Juventus see another game pass where none of their strikers scored, not only did Juventus return to their ways of not scoring from open play and not only did we see Max Allegri drop things deep against a lesser opponent to hold onto a win, but we also saw the Bianconeri extend their winning streak to five games with a 2-1 victory over Cagliari. What looked like it was going to be another win and a clean sheet after goals from Bremer and Daniele Rugani (and his junk), turned into something was maybe a little too close for comfort when Cagliari cut the lead in half — the kind of goal that will certainly make Max Allegri a little angry despite the victory and the three points.
Oh, and this, too: Juventus are, for at least 24 hours, looking down at all of the other 19 teams in Serie A, one point clear of Inter ahead of their game against Matias Soulé and Frosinone on Sunday night.
Alas ... gone is the streak of 1-0 wins, which ended at three. (And, in a way, going from the end of one international break to the start of the next and winning every game by the same 1-0 scoreline would have given me some kind of sick amusement. I know, I know, but it makes me laugh!)
Gone is the streak of not allowing a goal, which ended at 615.
Gone is the streak of shutouts, which ends at five games.
But that winning streak — that’s what I like to see. That’s what I like to see continue and not end against a Cagliari team that hadn’t won in Turin since Allegri was their manager and Claudio Ranieri was managing Juventus. In ... 2009!
Juventus will take that winning streak into the first Derby d’Italia of the season at San Siro in a couple of weeks. We don’t know if Juve will still be first or kicked back down to second with Sunday night’s result. But we do know is that Juventus will probably be hoping that Soulé gives them a little bit of help and tries to ensure that his parent club goes into the break officially atop the table.
That is still going to be something that Allegri plays down no matter what considering what the main objective for this season continues to be. But the thing with this season is that Allegri’s team is getting wins in games in which they found themselves dropping points in a year ago. Was the performance against Cagliari all that great? Nah, I don’t think so. There’s still plenty of issues with this Juventus squad — especially when you take out a few key pieces because of suspension and/or injuries.
The thing is, though, they just continue to march on. They’re doing enough to get the job done each weekend and rack up wins. They didn’t exactly pepper the Cagliari goal and were pretty wasteful in front of it, but it’s not like they basically just had no chances to score, either. You want to see more than four of their 18 shots be put on frame and maybe even score from open play, but at the same time it’s a case of scoring from those dead ball situations in which they did have.
Again, the performance wasn’t anywhere pretty, but I feel like this is the kind of deal last season that sees Juve not get a second goal, sees Cagliari score an equalizer and then we’re left scrambling to try and get the lead back and not successful in doing so.
I don’t know how sustainable this current way of playing is for Juventus. But it’s hard to be completely mad about things because they’re continuing to win. And when you’re hammering home the fact that the top four is the goal and you’re currently overshooting those expectations, I’ll take it. The last thing we wanted to see happen was dropped points going into the international break and having that tone for the next two weeks before facing Inter. Now, Juve’s still got their winning streak intact and will take it to Milan in two weeks.
I like Option B much, more more than Option A for the most obvious of reasons. I think you should, too. But that’s just one guy’s opinion.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Juventus are undefeated in games in which Manuel Locatelli wears the captain’s armband this season.
- They’re also undefeated in games this season when Stephan Lichtsteiner and Sami Khedira show up and get a nice round of applause before the game. If only Mario Mandzukic had rolled into Turin for the weekend and met up with two of his best mates from his Juve days.
- A half-hour in and Juve recorded all of two shots. That’s not exactly testing the greatness that is Simone Scuffet in goal. Oh well.
- Juve’s first half in a nutshell: misplaced passes out of the back, misplaced shots when they got the ball to the attack. Basically, an opening 45 minutes where they didn’t play very well.
- Bremer only had three clearances? Slacker.
- I’m just kidding. Bremer was still very good even if he had a quarter of the clearances than he did against Fiorentina. (Yeah, last week was the extreme. I get it!)
- Would you take a game like this from Filip Kostic a good portion of the time? You should, because he had six key passes and connected on nearly half of his 15 crosses. Plus a peach of an assist on Bremer’s goal! That’ll do just fine, Pippo.
- Kostic had as many key passes as the rest of the Juve team combined. This can be taken a few ways, I’m guessing, but I will just leave it at that.
- Congrats to Locatelli, by the way! After being the only Juventus player with a pass success rate of over 80 percent last week, he had some company in that stat department this weekend. This is progress!
- In a surprise to nobody, Andrea Cambiaso looked a little meh out on the right compared to when he has been on the left this season. So, let’s hope that Timothy Weah can come back for the second trip to Milan this season in a couple of weeks.
- Samuel Iling-Junior got to play!
- It was as a makeshift mezalla, but he got to play nonetheless!
- We also got to see Hans! After everything that he’s been through with injuries, making that first appearance of the season and in a Juve shirt again had to feel pretty damn good.
- Man, I was so ready to just kick up my feet — even though I watch every game in my recliner so they’re technically usually kicked up — after Rugani scored with his groin area to make it 2-0. But nope, we had to sweat this one out because that’s just how this team is.
- Allegri essentially challenged Federico Gatti not to get a yellow card (and the subsequent suspension) that would force him to miss the Inter showdown — and he was successful! Good job listening to your coach, Mr. Cats.
- “Juventus are atop the table” has a nice ring to it. Frosinone should beat Inter on Sunday night so that we can continue to say that for the next couple of weeks at minimum.