I’m guessing that after the showing they just had over the weekend, the last thing Juventus players and coaches alike wanted to hear was that of whistles from the stands as they walked off the field at halftime. Unfortunately, that happened Tuesday, with a pretty uninspiring opening 45 minutes leaving you to wonder just how much the loss to Sassuolo was still lingering for those same players and the man who fills out the starting lineup.
While there wasn’t a whole lot of room potentially play worse, the chance to play better come the second 45 minutes was there for the taking.
It wasn’t pretty, but Juve did just that.
An improvement second half — albeit, still very far off from what we saw from them the last time they played on the Allianz Stadium turf — and Arek Milik’s first real contribution of the night saw Juventus grab the lead over Serie A’s biggest early-season surprise. While Juve pushed for a second goal that never came, the Bianconeri’s 1-0 win turned out to be more of a grinder than something that was easy on the eyes and something that would have allowed the clear anxiety that was in that stadium to be totally relieved.
It was not pretty. Not by any means.
Some of the same issues — especially in midfield and finishing in front of the Lecce goal — was there again just like we saw over the weekend against Sassuolo. For all the good Juve’s defense did — Lecce didn’t even take a shot until nearly the hour mark — it was the other two areas of the field that still looked disjointed and not as fluid of a unit as they have at other points of the early season to date.
I wouldn’t categorize this performance as one from Angry Juventus that we’ve seen in past seasons. It was more of a Juventus that still had those same issues and is trying to work through those issues (if there truly is a way to solve them or at least a genuine attempt).
But as I said in the ultra-secretive and exclusive BWRAO Slack channel, this game for me was more about not extending the poor results and simply just trying to get three points. Would seeing Juve playing like they did against Lazio be a nice change of pace? Sure, but the last thing this team needed was to go into another big game this weekend on the back of two losses and two drab performances.
Juve got the win. It wasn’t one that is all that inspiring, but I’ll take it. And now I hope they rest up and come out a whole lot better than they did on Tuesday night when they make the trip to Bergamo. Let’s just hope they can crank it up against Atalanta like they did in their first big game of the season because that was fun.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- At least we can say Juve’s back into second place for a few hours, right?
- You want a good way to ensure that your goalkeeper who just had arguably the worst game of his career doesn’t repeat it? Well, I can think of one — not having Lecce record a shot on goal and look pretty rough in the attacking third as a whole.
- Lecce finished with two shots. Total. That’s it!
- Good thing for the plucky underdogs who entered the game lower in the table to get the upset of their opponent who was in third place. Good work, team.
- Lecce pressed. Juve struggled with the press. Welcome to things that don’t surprise you.
- What this game would have been like if Federico Chiesa had scored that chance midway through the first half that he sent just wide of the back post. I don’t think Max sits on the lead that early and maybe Juve pushing for a second goal like they did in the second half happens well before halftime, but it certainly would have made life a lot easier.
- This also had the feel of Chiesa trying to do a little too much at times? I don’t know. He sometimes just puts his head down and dribbles with the one goal of trying to do everything himself no matter what.
- I just never want to miss a chance to type out “Wladimiro Falcone” in one of these posts. It’s just a name that makes me smile for a reason that I have yet to truly figure out.
- Former Juventus Coppa Italia hero Hamza Rafia was a second-half sub for Lecce. ‘Member him, folks? Because up until a few days ago, I had totally forgotten he was still in Serie A.
- That tumble on the ground that Nicolo Fagioli had right before he came off reminded me of those old Giorgio Chiellini tumbles that Juve’s former captain used to bust out from time to time to draw a foul. I would like to think Nicky Beans was in a little more pain than Chiellini usually was.
- Speaking of Mr. Beans, I think it’s time that he becomes a regular in the starting lineup. Juve’s midfield needs it. Juve’s attack needs it. The whole team needs it really.
- That little Fagioli backheel in the second half was fun. You know you thought so, too.
- If Juventus were to submit a bid or two for Patrick Dorgu, I wouldn’t be mad about it.
- Let me just state, as a Juventus supporter who would probably be accused of having a massive bias if I didn’t say anything about it, the second yellow on Mohamed Kaba was a pretty harsh one. While Kaba being sent off in second-half stoppage time is not why Lecce lost, that appeared more to be him simply losing his balance after trying to turn the corner on Chiesa rather than simulation and trying to draw a penalty.
- Completely related note: Is seeing Chiesa dropping that deep to defend in the 93rd minute something that made you feel all that great? I mean, I respect the effort, but it’s not like a likely dog-tired Chiesa is probably somebody want to see trying to stop a big dude like Kaba is.
- For somebody who doesn’t play all that much all will (probably) see his playing time be not as plentiful with no European football this season, Daniele Rugani has become a pretty reliable backup on this team. That’s another way of saying he did another solid job and I have no complaints about how Rugani played against Lecce.
- The SofaScore rating said Manuel Locatelli had a pretty good game. Maybe my eyes are deceiving me — and, based on my visit to the eye doctor yesterday, that could be true! — but I thought it was a lot like the team as a whole where things were better in the second half.
- Weston McKennie got the hockey assist on Milik’s goal. That’s more involvement in a goal for a guy who is playing as a wingback who isn’t actually a wingback.
- That said, that second half seemed like a prime opportunity to bring Timothy Weah on a lot earlier than he was to have him try and beat some dudes for pace on the right wing. Sometimes you just gotta unleash that speed. (Although I’m sure Allegri held off on making the move because McKennie is probably the better player on the defensive end of the two.)
- I miss the Andea Cambiaso from the Udinese win. Come back to us, that Cambiaso.
- Juventus won a game in which neither Chiesa nor Dusan Vlahovic scored. That’s possible?
- Adrien Rabiot leads Juventus in assists just like we all predicted.
- At least Juventus didn’t lose. Therefore, I’m not too mad about all of this. Better than the alternative of seeing the feel-good story of the new season continue to be the feel-good story. (Also, I think Lecce’s entire payroll is about the same as what Juve pay Paul Pogba, so them punching way above their weight is a cool story.)