There’s always a catch when it comes to preseason. If your team plays poorly, then you can just chalk it up to preseason, ball up all of those bad performances and punt them into oblivion because it’s come in friendlies that mean nothing. But if your team plays well, you sit there wondering if they can carry the good things they did into the games that matter.
After Juventus’ first-half performance in their scoreless draw with Atalanta on Saturday night, I can’t help but be a little more Door No. 2 than Door No. 1.
The second half proved to be what many friendlies turn out to be — a little disjointed and not all that great because there’s new players funneling in and out since the first whistle out of halftime. But it was that first half, though ... that first half in which Juventus didn’t look like a team that was just sitting back and happy to have 30-something percent possession of the ball. They were pressing Atalanta in a way that Atalanta has done to others over the years. They were using their speed and creativity on the flanks to create chances on the counter or simply in build-up play.
It was, with the obvious caveat of it being a friendly and not a game that means anything in the standings, a very good first half of football from Juventus and a starting lineup, outside of a few names, that will probably be what we see against Udinese next weekend.
Ten of Juventus’ 15 shots in the game came during the opening 45 minutes. Dusan Vlahovic, seeing his first significant amount of minutes of the preseason, saw the bulk of those chances, but clearly showed signs of not much action before Saturday night. The good thing, though, is that even with all of 20 touches to his name, Vlahovic was being put in position by his teammates to do what he does best — score goals.
The biggest thing in that first-half performance was the movement that Juve showed. The combination of Federico Chiesa drifting out wide to the left like he is want to do and Andrea Cambiaso bombing forward proved fruitful. Considering Cambiaso’s ability to play with both feet allowed him to cut inside and take the space that Chiesa had previously occupied. It was the kind of combination and attacking look that is different to what Filip Kostic provides when he’s on the field and just looking to cross, cross, cross and cross some more.
It was encouraging. It was very encouraging.
But the thing is, the preseason will always come with that catch. Will the good things that Juventus did over the course of their friendlies against AC Milan, Real Madrid and now Atalanta carry over? Will the press that Juve showed against Atalanta be a thing that we see next Sunday? How much of the good vibes coming out of the preseason stick a couple of weeks or months from now?
The good thing is that we don’t have to wait long for an answer to most of the things we’re wondering about coming out of the preseason. Come next weekend, we get to see if Juve will be a little more adventurous or if it will be the same brand of football we’ve seen for the better part of the last two seasons.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- As I sat and watched the first half, I couldn’t help but have the line of thinking circle back to “please oh please let this be a sign of what’s to come” because that was a really good first half to watch. I understand that there was a goal scored, but if Juve can play like that more often than the goals will come. Now they just need to play like that.
- I feel confident in saying that if Juve’s first-half performance is replicated next weekend in Udine, then there’s a good chance three points come back to Turin with our guys.
- Knowing how well he played in the last couple of friendlies, considering me very, very interested to see how Andrea Cambiaso fits into Max Allegri’s plans. (Let’s just hope that the hand/wrist injury Cambiaso was trying to shake off a few minutes before he was subbed out isn’t all that big of a deal.)
- This is not breaking news by any means, but Timothy Weah is very fast.
- This also isn’t breaking news by any means, but watching Weah get going on the counterattack with all that speed he has is quite fun to watch.
- Also, as noted on the broadcast, did you hear that he’s George Weah’s son? Hadn’t heard that one before! I wish somebody had mentioned it sooner...
- Teun Koopmeiners is good and Atalanta are going to make a whole lot of money whenever they end up selling him.
- I can’t help but wonder how many games it will take for Marco Carnesecchi to become Atalanta’s starter in goal. A talent like that can only hang on the bench for so long.
- Seeing Federico Chiesa buzzing around the penalty area and cutting in on his right is so good to see again. I truly believe him having a “regular” summer as compared to having to rehab his knee day after day is going to be a huge boon to his success. Is playing him as a striker less than ideal? Sure, but Chiesa doing Chiesa things is the most important thing of all.
- A guy who had a good preseason who knows a thing or two about knee injuries? Hans Nicolussi Caviglia. If he ends up staying at Juve or going to Salernitana on loan, he has really shown to be back at the level that made him such a promising talent coming out of the Juve academy a few years ago before all of the knee injuries started.
- Somebody tell me not to read too much into Alex Sandro starting against Real Madrid and Atalanta because I’m trying really, really hard not to read too much into Alex Sandro starting against Real Madrid and Atalanta. He will have a handful of good games, but we’re going to be back in the same situation we have been with him the last couple of seasons — and that’s not very good.
- A change for the better? When Vlahovic missed a chance, there wasn’t the excruciating signs of frustration on his face. Maybe that’s just a preseason thing, but Dusan not getting in his own head — especially early on this season — is going to be a big thing if he’s going to stay and still be managed by Max Allegri.
- Fabio Miretti had a nice preseason. Hopefully he can build on it no matter where he ends up playing this season and turn it into an extended run of good form.
- Samuel Iling-Junior as a center mid is still a thing and will not stop being a thing until we see him playing out wide on a regular basis again.
- The games officially count for real next weekend. Game week arrives Monday. It’s almost that time once again, folks.