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Manu’s Grab Bag: Black & White City

We talk youth development, derby wins and a long awaited return.

Juventus v Torino FC - Serie A Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Between the unusual Tuesday night kickoff time due to Juventus’ current participation in the Europa League, the not completely sold out crowd saw a surprising final score in the traditional Derby della Mole that had a lot of drastic differences from the one we saw earlier this year.

Still, one thing remained the same: Turin is still black and white, as the Bianconeri defeated their city rivals in a 4-2 barnburner at the Allianz Stadium that was both entertaining and hopefully a purveyor of good things to come for Juventus.

Let’s cook.

MVP: Danilo

Another good performance and a first derby win for Danilo as Juve captain.

His obvious highlight was his game-tying goal in the dying minutes of the first half which ended up being pivotal. At the very least, mentally it’s a whole lot easier to go into the locker room drawn even than allowing two dumb scores and losing which is what made that score even more important.

It was also a pretty damn tough header, too — especially for a guy who is naturally a fullback, but credit to him for getting himself in good enough position to get such a good shot out. This was an all-around good showing for the Brazilian international.

Runner Up: Filip Kostic - The Lord of Crosses had himself a good shift and was key to Juve’s victory. I’ve said before Kostic is the prototypical feast or famine player. When he is being accurate with his passing he can be a difference maker and when he’s not there’s not a ton more to his game. Well, he was plenty good on this one.

Winner: Enzo Barrenechea

The 21-year-old Barrenechea made his Serie A debut in the derby and, while he definitely didn’t light the world on fire, he didn’t look completely outclassed either — which, considering the circumstances and the lack of playing time he’s had in the senior team, is an accomplishment in and of itself.

He was composed on the ball and didn’t really make any major mistakes. Not every young guy is going to have world-class performances right away and the don’t need to either, if Barrenechea can provide depth and solid minutes for the rest of the season, that’s good enough at this point in his career. All in all, a solid evening for him.

Really, his surprise start speaks more about the next guy than anything else ...

Loser: Leandro Paredes

Paredes is for sure going back to Paris Saint-Germain as soon as the season wraps up, huh?

We had discussed in this space before about how underwhelming Paredes had been so far into his loan for Juventus, but I had no idea he had fallen this low on the pecking order that Max Allegri decided to give a youth product a start — in the Turin derby, no less — rather than give the Argentinian more minutes.

Could Paredes have given you a similar production than his countryman in this game? Probably. But if your production is the same than a guy making his debut in domestic play, maybe that’s a pretty bad sign, no?

Unless there’s some injuries — fingers crossed — to key players in his position I doubt we’ll be seeing a ton more from Paredes this year.

Winner: Max Allegri Youth Coach Extraordinaire

One of the most unfair criticisms of Juve’s current coach has been his supposed aversion towards playing young or inexperienced players. I think Allegri doesn’t like playing young guys who are not good enough, but he has shown time and time again that if you can hold your own, you are going to get minutes.

Just this year, Nicolo Fagioli, Fabio Miretti, Samuel Illing-Junior, Matias Soule and now Barrenechea have played a role in the senior squad. And this is not a one-year fluke, either, because there’s a ton of examples of the Italian coach giving young players chances in big games. Remember starting Rodrigo Bentancur against Real Madrid in those Champions League quarterfinals in 2017? Giving Moise Kean his debut and then starting him a bunch in the business end of the season? Rolling with a young Paul Pogba pretty much from the get-go?

(Hell, if you want to go even back further, Stephan El-Sharaawy won the best Young Player in Serie A while being coached by Allegri at AC Milan.)

Allegri is a lot of things, but he’s not averse to betting on youth if they show they deserve it.


It was only for a few minutes and it took a whole lot longer than literally everyone would have liked, but Paul Pogba is finally back.

Lost in the discourse of his wages, injuries and long recovery is the fact that when he’s actually on the pitch the man can still play.

There’s not a ton of midfielders who can pull off certain skills, but Pogba is decidedly one of them. Released from the double pivot hell that he was stuck with in Manchester United for so long, Pogba can go back to doing what he does best — wreck games from the box-to-box midfielder role.

Getting a guy of his caliber back has all the potential of being just as impactful as the way Angel Di Maria has been for Juventus this second half. He is a generational talent and can be the missing piece to unlock a significantly more balanced and dangerous Juve side.

I know, I know. He has to, you know, play in order for all this lofty hopes to become true but he took the first step on Tuesday. Now all we can do is hope and pray his body allows him to be a player worthy of wearing the number he has on his back. He has the talent, that’s for sure.

Parting Shot of the Week

Is Juventus making Europe despite the 15-point deduction?

With the win the Bianconeri are comfortably nested in seventh place in the table, only six points off the Conference League spot, nine away from Europa League places and 10 whole points from qualifying for the Champions League outright. With a key game coming against Roma those distances could be significantly reduced as soon as next weekend.

Juve’s main focus should remain in trying to win the Europa League and punch their ticket in that way. With the looming threat of yet another point deduction there’s a lot of uncertainty to try and get your spot through a domestic competition, but by god how enjoyable would it be if Juventus could somehow get to those coveted spots?

It’s all significantly more likely with every win.

See you Sunday.