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Manu’s Grab Bag: Sunday Blowout

We talk a solid win, the sadness of Paul Pogba and the awful kit gimmick.

Juventus v US Cremonese - Serie A Photo by Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

That was ... shockingly competent!

It had been a second since we saw a fairly straightforward win like the one Juventus authored on Sunday, but the 2-0 victory over Cremonese was as good as we’ve seen from the Bianconeri in a little while.

Juventus dominated possession, outshot their opposition by a million and essentially did everything that a good team should do against a bad one. This is the very season in which Juventus have struggled against teams from up and down the league table, so it was refreshing to see them do what they had to do against a relegation battler — and do it with ease for once.

Let’s cook.

MVP: Nicolo Fagioli

It’s Nicholas Beans making his return to the good side!

After a few poor outings and mistakes — that even cost the team dropped points against Sassuolo — Fagioli has been playing a lot better as of late, and Sunday’s game was the latest example of his resurgent form.

Playing against the team he spent last season on loan in Serie B, Fagioli showed out with a fantastic performance that was punctuated by a scorcher of a goal that opened up the score for Juventus.

Back when Fagioli was struggling, we made the case that it is normal for young players to struggle, but great ones move past it and take those failures to get better. Hopefully this is a sign that Fagioli is one of those great ones.

Runner Up: Leandro Paredes - Say what you will about Leandro Paredes, but when he plays literally the worst teams in the league he looks pretty good! Probably not what Juventus expected when they took him on loan from Paris Saint-Germain and definitely not what you’d expect from a guy earning what he does but considering he’s usually bad, these good performances — even if they are against bad competition — are better than nothing.

Pogba Blues

I blame myself. Literally every single time I write about how Paul Pogba is looking better and has a chance to make an impact in the season something bad happens to everyone’s favorite French midfielder.

This time it was right after Pogba was making his first start for Juventus. Just barely over 20 minutes into Sunday night’s game, Pogba pulled a muscle after serving a regular-seeming cross and crumpled down to the pitch in tears. You can assume those tears were both due to the pain of the injury and the frustration of getting hurt once again, especially after he was starting to look like his old self.

The injury itself seems like it’s not all that serious, but it’s another in a worrying trend of minor and major knocks that Pogba has accumulated in the last few seasons. At this moment, it’s still unknown if Pogba is done for the season or if he still has a minor chance to play again. Either way, whether Pogba gets to ever be the player that we remembered is looking less and less likely by the minute.

Jersey Reveal

So, two things.

I officially like the new Juventus home kit which was debuted against Cremonese. I think the yellow accents worked a lot better than I thought they would when the initial images leaked out and the distressed, animal print-like zebra stripes were a bold design mover that, in my opinion, pays off.

Adidas gets a lot of flak for the design of the jerseys, but it was a daring attempt — and I think they nailed it.

All that being said, I hate, hate the fact that they keep playing the last few games of the current season with the kits of the next one. This was a fun gimmick that was usually reserved for the very last game of the season in which Juventus usually lifted the Scudetto.

And it was kind of cool when it was one game and you were doing it as the team celebrated a championship, but it’s insane to me they are now extending that period to a whole ass month before the season ends. Look, I get it, my 9-to-5 is in sports retail and it’s very obvious that making a kit’s shelf life longer is a good proposition business wise. You can sell two Juve home kits at the same time and technically they are both this year’s kit — it’s every retailers dream.

But, for me at least, it ruins a lot of the excitement of a new season kicking off. It might be silly to some, but watching your team play in new jerseys was a legitimately exciting part of a new year starting. With this weird new model of how things are unveiled, you lose a lot of that.

I don’t see the practice changing any time soon. Like I said, this probably makes a lot of sense business-wise and companies usually don’t change good business strategies just because fans feel one way or another, but I still needed to put this take out into the world.

Parting Shot of the Week

With the way Juventus remains in second place in Serie A and opens up a not insignificant gap to the current fourth place team in the league table in AC Milan. With the penalty issue still very much hanging in the balance it behooves Juventus to try and build that gap as much as possible in case the powers that be decide that the penalty should be just enough to get them dropped to fifth place after all.

Juventus now faces their biggest game of the season — again! — as they travel to Spain to face Sevilla and duke it out for a ticket to the Europa League final. It’s been a second since the Bianconeri played in such a high stakes game and considering how this team has played all season, it’s anybody’s guess which Juve will show up.

A big-time European showdown is on deck, people. Where would you rather be?

See you Thursday.