In the end, things at the top of the Serie A table are the same at the end of the weekend as they were at the beginning of the resumption of play.
After a back and forth first half, you might have thought we were heading towards a grand finish in which there was potential chaos afoot. Instead, the opposite of that took place.
Juventus’ lead midway through the opening half lasted all of about five minutes Sunday night, with Dusan Vlahovic’s first goal in over two months being canceled out by Serie A’s leading goal scorer, Lautaro Martinez, to pull the league leaders even just 12 minutes before halftime. It was an opening first half that had plenty of twists and turns, but one that couldn’t be replicated coming out of the break, as the two teams combined for all of one shot — which came in the 50th minute! — in the second half. The end result was a 1-1 draw that probably felt like the proper result, but still leaves a little bit of disappointment considering that Juve had plenty of wind in their sails when Vlahovic found the back of the net.
Ultimately, that was not only the lone shot on goal Juve had the entirety of the night, but one of the few scoring chances Max Allegri’s squad actually got. Those other shots, three in total to give Juventus one of their lowest shot totals of not just this season but the last few years.
Considering how Inter’s goal came about — on the break with a couple of defensive errors and after a no-call by referee Marco Guida on a foul on Federico Chiesa — you can understand why Allegri reacted to things the way he did. It was the kind of defensive sequence in which Inter could have continued to exploit if Juve didn’t have some kind of counter move to try and sure things up at the back and prevent further damage from happening.
The result wasn’t all that great compared to how things went in the opening 45 minutes, which Juve controlled large portions and surprisingly wasn’t totally sitting back and defending right from the get-go. But it’s also a sign of the well-known fact that Juve lacked the quality to match Inter from top to bottom on the field — especially when you’re playing so a good number of would-be bench players in your starting lineup like Juve were.
So, if you’re a little grumpy, try and look at it this way ...
- If Juve hadn’t gotten a result, Inter’s ahead by five points.
- With Juve getting this result and keeping the unbeaten run going, Inter’s still ahead by just two points.
So maybe that doesn’t fix all of the grumpiness because Juventus obviously had a chance to jump over Inter and get into first place, but the sting can be lessened at least a little bit by the fact that there’s still not much breathing room between first and second. While Inter hasn’t shown it yet this season, one slip up after a midweek Champions League fixture and the door is open again for Allegri and company.
In the end, though, I feel like Juve could have really let things slip away after seeing Inter tie things up late in the first half. The good thing is that they didn’t — and at least they’re leaving this one with a point as compared to a truly brutal defeat on their home turf.
It’s definitely one of those “could’ve been better but also could’ve been a lot worse” situations. I’ll take the lesser of two evils, that’s for sure.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Pre-game thought No. 1: HANS!
- Pre-game thought No. 2: If you made the bet before the season started that Daniele Rugani and Hans Nicolussi Caviglia would start the first Derby d’Italia of the year, you’d be swimming in cash right now.
- Pre-game thought No. 3: Inter’s bench vs. Juventus’ bench is quite the differing scenarios.
- It’s the 15th minute. Federico Chiesa gets the ball right at the top of the box after a failed clearance. He’s got a wide open shot on his left foot. That shot is nowhere near the goal. Fede, I love you, but you have to finish that kind of chance.
- Juve’s defending on Inter’s goal to tie things up ... yeah, not good. Didn’t matter if it was Rugani, Bremer and Federico Gatti on Lautaro Martinez, it was all bad from start to finish.
- And just to let you know, right before that action happened in which Inter tied the game up, Chiesa was fouled and nothing was called. That was a theme because there were three instances before that one in which Chiesa was fouled and nothing was called. Serie A refereeing remaining consistently confusing.
- Wojciech Szczesny had just as many touches (18) as Nicolussi Caviglia did in the first half.
- It was a night where Hans was thrown into the deepest of deep ends when it comes to fixtures on the schedule this season. Probably the only thing that would have made it tougher for him is if this was at San Siro rather than in Turin. He was just a step behind and you could understand why he was a little nervy and wanting to play it safe rather than try to risk mistake after mistake. And all of this after he’s barely played this season. Tough ask.
- Juan Cuadrado coming on as a second-half sub but doing so in an Inter jersey ... gross.
- Cuadrado’s antics when it comes to falling easily on potential fouls and the dumb tackles are far less tolerable when he’s on the opposing team. Shocking development, huh?
- For the record, Nicolo Barrella is annoying as all hell when he’s not wearing an Italy jersey.
- You know that Dusan had to feel good after that goal.
- Also: SHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!
- Not just the goal, but he worked his ass off to start that goal-scoring move and then finished it with his weaker right foot. Vlahovic’s off-ball work was pretty good against Inter. There were still moments where he could have had a better first touch (drink!), but on the whole I feel like this was about as complete of an effort we’ve seen from Vlahovic in a good amount of time.
- It’s also worth mentioning that Chiesa’s effort on Vlahovic’s goal was simply fantastic. The run was great, the pass to Vlahovic was even better. It was just a great all-around goal from both guys.
- Breaking news: Juve struggle to keep possession. I know, this wasn’t known before this game, but I just felt like I should tell you all.
- Inter attempted only eight shots Sunday night. They average twice that amount this season. I feel like that’s something that speaks pretty well about the job Juve did defensively.
- Although, when it comes to Juve’s defense, I did cringe a little bit when Alex Sandro came on late in the second half. The last thing I wanted to see was Juve hanging on for a point and then Sandro ball watching on a cross to allow the game-winning goal.
- Thankfully, Sandro spent most of his time on the field absolutely hacking at Cuadrado’s legs, so there’s that. Good to see the washed going up against the washed.
- I understand that Allegri always thinks defense first, but it would have been interesting to see what Samuel Iling-Junior could’ve done on the counterattack in the second half against a tiring Inter defense. I know I say this type of thing a lot, but that speed and creativity is just something Juve doesn’t have on the field all that much.
- In conclusion, it was nice to hear the Allianz rockin’ again during a big game. At least some of the time. The second half kinda zapped the entire stadium of the atmosphere that was there to begin the night. But on the whole, Juve needs a homefield advantage just as much as anybody and we know how that stadium can be when things are going well.