We’ve been fooled by Juventus scoring extremely early goals before. Don’t deny it — you’ve fell for it plenty of times before. That thought of the dam about to break, only for that one goal being the only goal that Juve ends up scoring. It’s the ultimate tease, but you just can’t help yourself from going there.
Well, if you went there Sunday, it turned out to be something that was proved to be quite rewarding.
Juventus got its first goal against Udinese less than two minutes into the first game of the 2023-24 season. They didn’t sit back and defend a lead for 80-something minutes. Instead, with Udinese very much not knowing what the heck just hit them with Federico Chiesa’s opening goal in the second minute, Juve only added to their lead. By the time Adrien Rabiot headed home Andrea Cambiaso’s peach of a cross from the left wing, it was 3-0 right before the half and things were quite enjoyable heading into the break. That’s how it ended, as Juventus marked this season’s opener with an even bigger — and better? — 3-0 win than we saw from them a year ago when they opened their season in style.
It was a first-half showing that saw Juve play in a fashion that we saw maybe in small glimpses last season but never over an extended period of time. They were pressing the life out of Udinese, constantly putting a shook backline under pressure. They won the ball back quickly. They were direct on the counter and were dangerous in front of goal. It was an aggressive mindset that we haven’t always seen from Juventus the last couple of years.
Just like that, within 20 minutes, Juve were up 2-0 with both of their big-name attackers on the scoresheet and celebrating with the traveling fans behind the goal.
Outside of a few instances of Juve’s defense being stretched and things that would certainly cause Max Allegri to say his team needs to be more controlled, it was a first-half performance that seemed to only confirm your optimism coming out of the preseason. The second-half performance in which Juve clearly went into cruise control and allowed Udinese more than a few scoring chances — and obviously had Wojciech Szczesny called into action more than you would have liked in a 3-0 game — probably allowed for a more pessimistic view on things.
So, some very good. Also some potential concerning depending on how much you want to read into how this team played in the second half of a game in which they led 3-0. Both sides of the coin without a doubt. But, safe to say much more good than bad? Yeah, I think so.
All told, though, we’ve been here before. Like, 12 months ago, so it’s not like it’s so far in the past that you might forget what happened in a season opener. It rings true. It’s always going to ring true because you can’t help but go there when you see a team play well like Juve did right out of the gate.
As much as this kind of win makes you hopeful that Juve could play well, there’s also the giant question of if this is truly the way they will play over the long haul going forward. There will be bad days because there’s always going to be bad days in this game. (Yes, even the best teams have them when they have to scratch and claw to win 1-0 against a bad opponent.)
Now we wait to see what’s next because there’s a reason to look forward to the next time Juventus plays. And as we know, starting to season well can do a whole lot of good for a team that is out to try and prove — the kind of vibe like this Juve team seems to be giving off as the preseason officially moves into games that count.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Juventus finished with four shots on goal. Three of them were goals. I’d obviously like more shots on goal, but that success rate sure is a thing that Juventus are more than welcome to replicate going forward this season.
- Juve finished the game being outshot 18-9. That’s funny.
- I’ll take two goals and an assist from the Federico Chiesa and Dusan Vlahovic duo. I’ll take it every single time. More, more, more!
- I gotta admit that seeing Chiesa buzzing around and popping up all over the place brought a smile to my face. This was Chiesa being the Chiesa of old and playing the kind of way that we know he can. It looks like the time off over the summer really did he some good to just reset mentally and focus on getting back to who he was before his knee injury. That finish on his goal was clinical, his combination with Cambiaso on Rabiot’s goal was nice as hell and just seeing him be a complete buzzsaw was the best of all. Let’s hope that he’s a man on a mission going forward because that would mean so much to this team.
- I think it’s safe to say that was a pretty good debut from Andrea Cambiaso. The dynamic he brings to the left wing will be fun to see develop over the coming weeks if he has indeed surpassed Filip Kostic for that spot. Plus, you know, that cross he put in was dynamite and will be replayed more than a few times in this house.
- So when do we start the #WristTapeGang featuring Cambiaso and Dusan Vlahovic?
- Speaking of Vlahovic, seeing that link-up between Dusan and Samuel Iling-Junior was quite nice. It was just barely offside, sure, but it’s those kinds of things that give you hope that things can be different for Vlahovic this year with simply more creativity out wide. (Not that Kostic isn’t creative, but he is very much a predictable option in which he’s going to try and do.)
- YILDIZ! YILDIZ! YILDIZ! YILDIZ!
- Wojciech Szczesny made a great double save. The second shot was stopped with his face. Like, his WHOLE FACE. He stayed in the game. I really don’t know how he did that.
- How many more buttons would Udinese manager Andrea Sottil have to undo on his shirt before this picture is declared NSFW?
- Also, there’s three buttons undone by Sottil in the above picture. Udinese allowed three first-half goals. Connect the dots, people. It’s simple science.
- Alex Sandro got the first yellow card of the season. What were the odds on that one?
- Gotta admit, Wingback Weston wasn’t totally terrible against Udinese. He was actually pretty solid. If he goes back to being a valuable jack-of-all-trades for Allegri this season, then keeping him around wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
- Let’s hope that whatever caused Timothy Weah to be subbed at the half isn’t something that lingers and causes him to miss some time. What makes this current lineup a threat is having both wingbacks capable of coming at you with speed and creativity.
- Manuel Locatelli getting absolutely wrecked right before the final whistle seemed a little cruel, didn’t it? I dunno, but that probably could have been prevented and didn’t need to happen.
- Fabio Miretti had some very good moments going forward, but there were also other times in which the same questionable decision making he’s shown in the past came to the fore. The thing that I liked most of all is that even with those questionable decisions he looked to be playing with a little more aggressiveness and wasn’t so tentative. Now it’s just about trying to get him to take that next step. You know, the kind of step Nicolo Fagioli took last season.
- One game into Rabiot Contract Year 2.0 and already one goal to his name. That’s a way to start, I’d say. Let’s hope it continunes.
- Honestly, saying “Let’s hope it continues” is probably going to be said a lot around here over the next few days simply because this is only the first game of the season. If we see this kind of first-half performance against Bologna — which may or may not be more of a trickier matchup — then we’re going to be saying it again a lot before Juve faces Empoli on Sept. 3. That’s only the nature of this time of year.