For all of the possession Juventus had in the first half of Sunday night’s game against Cremonese — and there sure was a lot of it — the same old problems with the attack range true. Cremonese dropped everybody deep, Juventus did a whole lot of passing the ball around, but when it came to actually coming close to scoring goals, there wasn’t much of that whatsoever.
In total, Juve had 77 percent possession in the opening 45 minutes, but all of two shots on target to show for it — a sign that something, desperately, needed to change.
Thankfully, there were a couple of young Italians there to do just that.
Nicolo Fagioli scored one of the best goals you’ll see from a Juventus player this season, sending a right-footed rocket past Marco Carnesecchi after some nifty dribbling from Federico Chiesa to break the scoreless deadlock and propel his current side past his old side in a 2-0 win at Allianz Stadium. Throw in a Bremer goal late in the second half and you get Juventus averting any sort of disaster when it comes to dropping points to a team that now looks more and more like it’s about to get relegated to Serie B.
Maybe the three points earned Sunday won’t take away the sad that comes with another Paul Pogba injury in a season full of them, but at least it’s three points and not something less than that and we’re left to talk about what Juventus didn’t do compared to what they did.
Sure, this performance was nothing special. It was a lot of possession with not a whole lot of end product outside of the goals from Fagioli and Bremer. And even then, despite Cremonese looking completely forgettable the few times they actually got forward into the final third, it’s not like the game was totally put away until Bremer’s latest big header off a corner kick.
So, yeah. It wasn’t a nerve-wrecking 1-0 Juventus lead like we’ve seen in a whole lot of games this season. But it was still a 1-0 Juventus lead in which one mistake, one error at the back, would have cost them and potentially put the win that gave them sole possession of second place in the Serie A table back at risk.
Basically what I’m trying to say is that I’m glad Juventus got the win because I was rather worried that this was going to be the classic game in between Europa League games in which there are points dropped thanks to a terrible performance. And while the performance wasn’t great overall, Juve did enough to get the job done and now switch the focus back over to Sevilla and the trip to Spain in a couple of days.
It wasn’t Inter running past Sassuolo. It, thankfully, wasn’t AC Milan getting squashed by Spezia. It was more good than bad for the simple matter of Juventus won the dang game. And at this point in the season, I’d rather Juve do that ahead of a big European tie rather than, say, what Milan went out and did against a relegation battler.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- With the win, Juventus are now on 69 points. That’s nice.
- Juve also finished with 69 percent possession. That’s nice, too.
- We were worried about Marco Carnesecchii turning into prime Gigi Buffon in a game in which plenty of eyes in the Juve front office were going to be on the young shot stopper. Instead, Vlad Chiriches was out there looking like Giorgio freakin’ Chiellini. Who knew.
- And the Paul Pogba experience in the starting lineup for the 2022-23 season lasted all of ... 24 minutes.
- I was excited to see him. But now I’m sad again.
- This wasn’t the best of games for Carnesecchii, but I’d still be cool with Juventus signing him over the course of the next few summers. Kid has a bright, bright future.
- Cremonese recorded nine blocked shots. (Chiriches had seven!)
- Juventus didn’t block any shots.
- Mattia Perin’s last save against Cremonese came with a few minutes remaining before the final whistle and I’m just glad the dude was still awake because he had NOTHING to do for very large stretches of this one.
- Was I the only thinking as Angel Di Maria was set to come on that risking him in a game Juve was probably going to win anyway was a bad idea? Because Pogba getting injured in the first half just sometimes does that to a guy’s thought process.
- Dusan Vlahovic had 15 touches and an xG of 0.06. Yep, one of those days.
- Seeing Fagioli refuse to celebrate his goal against a club he spent all of one season on loan at just tells you what kind of class he has. (And, really, with how up and down the last month or so has been for him, he deserved some good things to happen. That shot was a really, really good thing! More of that.)
- Also really, really good: Chiesa weaving his way through a trio of Cremonese defenders and keeping ahold of the ball before spotting Fagioli and passing to him for the goal. There were some frustrating moments of Chiesa maybe trying to do a little too much, but that assist is one of those reminders that he’s going to be so good again when he finds form.
- Please just let it not be as a wingback. I mean, come on. He’s not a wingback.
- Leandro Paredes wasn’t bad! Really, he wasn’t! Good things happen to those who have a low bar of expectations to try and clear, I guess.
- We got the old “sub coming in for a sub” with Moise Kean replacing Arek Milik in the second half. I know it’s because Milik came on for Pogba early on, but it’s still funny to see — and thankfully it wasn’t because of an injury or because of something else considered bad.
- Milik being called offside by about half a shoe size is just VAR at its very much most annoying.
- Danilo led Juventus with 132 touches.
- Pablo Galdames led Cremonese with 52 touches.
- A tale of two very different kinds of possession numbers, eh?
- This is nothing new to Juve fans who watch this team every time out, but the fact that for a decent of Sunday’s game the visiting crowd was louder than the home supporters says something about the current vibe in Allianz Stadium. This was another game that was far from a sellout and it’s just such a stark contrast from the first few years of the stadium being open. I get that a lot of it has to do with how the team is playing and success and all that, but a rather lifeless Allianz is a pretty worthless homefield advantage no matter who you’re playing.
- I just want some cool tifo and a nice atmosphere — is that too much to ask for? (Apparently it is in the year 2023.)
- Still don’t know what to think of the new home kit. I like the yellow on black shorts, but the yellow on the jersey just seems like a little too much to me. It’s definitely going to get some taking used to, that’s for sure. (And I know I’m not the only one saying it and this time of year is that kind of message all the time now, but it just seems like maybe a little too much when it comes to the new jersey.)