Nearly a year to the day in which Dusan Vlahovic made quite a loud first impression on his Juventus debut, the hulking No. 9 made another early-February statement Tuesday night.
And boy does it feel good to type something like that again.
Juventus’ first three goals all had Team Serbia, but it was Vlahovic who played a part in all of them. Vlahovic scored his first two goals since making his comeback from his lengthy groin injury and added an “assist” to compatriot Filip Kostic as Juve built a 2-0 lead going into halftime and rolled to a 3-0 win over Salernitana. It was the kind of win that Juventus hasn’t necessarily had a lot of this season — you know, the kind where you can just kind of sit back and chill over the last 20 or so minutes, if not more — and it comes at a time when three points are so incredibly valuable.
So valuable that Max Allegri might stop talking about avoiding relegation a little bit?
Well, not even a Vlahovic penalty kick was something he could watch at the moment.
Allegri didn't watch Vlahovic's penaltypic.twitter.com/MlVpiGwnai— Juve Canal (@juve_canal) February 7, 2023
Ah, Max. Sometimes you amuse me. Sometimes it’s not exactly on purpose, but it brings about a laugh nonetheless. That’s just what happens when Allegri does what he does. He ain’t going to change now. This old dog doesn’t feel like learning any new tricks.
Who knows about him suddenly stopping the potential relegation talk since getting into the mind of Allegri whenever he steps up to the microphone before or after a game is a little tough to do.
But, that said, it was the kind of performance that differed from the win over Lazio a few days ago for the simple fact that Juventus were quite proactive in the second half even with a three-goal lead. They wanted more and nearly got just that. Angel Di Maria hammered a shot off the crossbar. Moise Kean nearly snuck a shot inside the near post only to hit iron. This could have easily been a landslide victory if only finishing was a little bit better.
That’s the encouraging part is that there is something to improve upon even in a relatively one-sided win. It could have been a runaway win and what would feel like the first dominant Juventus victory in months.
Considering how things have been at Juve over the last few weeks — and frankly the last few months as well — this kind of win had to feel pretty damn good for everybody involved. They’ve been under such a microscope and under such criticism for things that, in part, they had nothing to do with that beating Salernitana in this fashion was nothing but a positive.
It’s hopefully the sign of things to come — moreso the performance rather than the amount of goals scored because that is a complete wild card when your manager is Max Allegri.
For now, though, we can only hope that Allegri takes this game, takes what Vlahovic did when getting the kind of goal scoring opportunities he got and created for others and sees that it’s the way to go. This is something to build on — which is not exactly a phrase that we’ve typed out a lot here this season for obvious reasons.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Early reports on Miretti appear to be that it’s an ankle sprain of some sort. To what extent remains to be seen, but this will be one of the more anticipated trips to J Medical that we’ve had in a while simply because nobody wants to see one of the club’s brightest young talents miss an extended period of time. But, based solely on Miretti’s reaction as he was stretchered off, some bad news might be coming our way.
- The good news is that Max Allegri can turn to somebody like Nicolo Fagioli off the bench. Fagioli, to his credit, was pretty dang good after coming on at a point in the game in which he surely wasn’t expecting to play. (He also was seen warming up with the rest of the subs at halftime despite coming on at the end of the first half. That’s something you don’t see every day.)
- The bad news besides the obvious about Miretti’s injury is that Juve are now down another midfielder. After Weston McKennie leaving on loan and Paul Pogba’s ongoing injury issues, that’s not what you want to hear right as the schedule is about to get busy again with the Europa League on the horizon.
- That Fagioli assist to Vlahovic, that was the good stuff right there.
- That Vlahovic assist to Kostic, that was totally intentional and I don’t want to hear from you about how he totally shanked a shot but was fortunate to have it go right to one of his teammates. Nope, not goona hear it, folks. Just a totally perfect pass to Kostic.
- Who led Juventus in key passes against Salernitana? Dusan Vlahovic.
- This was a great all-around performance from somebody Juventus needs to lead the way in more ways than one the rest of the season. This was a good day for Dusan. A damn good day.
- OptaLopresti via the BWRAO chat: Juventus had seven shots in the first half. Six of them were by Serbians. Оrlovi.
- Salernitana’s xG in the first half: 0.06.
- Is the pre-World Cup and contract year purple patch for Adrien Rabiot over? Because it kinda-sorta feels like it’s over. My man has not been anywhere close to the same player he was during the first half of the season.
- Hans Nicolussi Caviglia was playing well before giving away the penalty that resulted in Vlahovic’s first goal. (Also, credit to Miretti for positioning himself well right before the tackle to win the penalty kick and leave no doubt about it.)
- That’s two clean sheets in a row, by the way. Next streak brewing maybe? Please?
- All three Brazilians along the three-man backline were solid if not unspectacular. That’s what Allegri’s going to need more of if they want any chance of slowly rising up the table. Any sort of defensively stability — the good kind! — is going to have to happen.
- In conclusion, Dusan Vlahovic is good. I like when he scores goals. You do, too. Let’s hope that there are plenty more of that to come and that it continues against a familiar foe over the weekend. Surely there will be a dominant storyline there again.
- Personally, Juventus winning 3-0 is very much the kind of thing I like watching and very much encouraged going forward.