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January’s Monthly Juventus Thoughts: Attacking Flair

Goals, goals, goals! The new year has seen Juventus score goals for fun and continue its fantastic run of form.

Football, Italian Serie A: US Salernitana v Juventus FC Photo by Cesare Purini/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

I’m not the type of guy who does New Year’s resolutions, but it seems that whatever Max Allegri said during the New Year’s celebrations activated the team’s scoring abilities to begin 2024. Juventus scored a remarkable 19 goals in six games across all competitions in January, which equates to an average of just over three goals per game.

That’s a sentence I’ve probably never written in my life, but better than that is the fact that we only conceded 3 goals in the entire month as well, thus showing that Allegri found the perfect balance between attacking flair and defensive solidity in January.

Will it last until the end of the season?

Unlikely, but I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

Goals, goals, goals!

January’s goal rush started with a thumping 6-1 victory over Salernitana in the Coppa Italia, although things didn’t start that easily. My compatriot Chukwubuikem Ikwuemesi (I know, Nigerian names...) opened the scoring after less than a minute due to Federico Gatti’s terrible error in defense. But that was the only negative in an evening of near perfection by Juventus.

Fabio Miretti equalized after a lovely run and cross by Federico Chiesa and tidy assist by Andrea Cambiaso. The assist-giver then turned into a goalscorer when he scored through a nice volley thanks to Danilo’s headed assist from Chiesa’s corner. Chiesa’s excellent game continued as he also created the third goal. Vincenzo Fiorillo saved Arek Milik’s header, which came from Chiesa’s cross, and Daniele Rugani scored on the rebound.

The goals kept coming: Fiorillo saved Kenan Yildiz’s shot but the rebound hit Salernitana defender Dylan Bronn and went into goal for the Bianconeri’s fourth goal of the evening. Yildiz then got the goal he deserved after dancing past a few defenders and scoring with a fierce shot. Tim Weah finished the goalfest with a thundering shot from distance that went in off the crossbar: 6-1!

Juventus FC v US Salernitana - Coppa Italia Photo by sportinfoto/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Juventus then traveled to Salerno to play Salernitana for the second time in three days, but this time things weren’t that easy. The young midfielder Giulio Maggiore fired his team into a deserved lead a few minutes before halftime after finishing a wonderful attacking move. Unfortunately for him, he went from hero to zero when he got his second yellow card in the 53rd minute. The Bianconeri quickly capitalized on their numerical advantage by equalizing through Samuel Iling-Junior.

Just when it looked like Filippo Inzaghi’s side had earned a hard-fought, much-needed point, Dusan Vlahovic headed in the winner in the 91st minute after Danilo’s excellent defending and cross setup the goal: 2-1!

Back to the Coppa Italia we went, this time for a quarter final match at home against Frosinone. Arek Milik was the star of the show as he scored his first hat trick for Juventus. His first goal came from the penalty spot (despite that hop-and-a-skip routine that I so desperately hate), his second after receiving and finishing from Weston McKennie’s great run and cross, and his third after Manuel Locatelli capitalized on an error in the Frosinone defense and selflessly passed the ball to Milik, who had an open goal to score in. McKennie got his second assist when Yildiz volleyed (with his shin?) another marvelous cross from the American: 4-0!

Juventus FC v Frosinone Calcio: Quarter Final - Coppa Italia Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

From the Arek Milik show against Frosinone to a Vlahovic masterclass against Sassuolo: it really was a month to remember for Juventus strikers. Vlahovic scored a marvelous double against Sassuolo to help Juventus ease past the only team to have beaten them this season. The first goal was a powerful, curling shot from outside the box while the second was an inch-perfect free kick. Chiesa wrapped up the 3-0 victory with a goal he very much needed in what has been a stop-start season for him so far.

Remarkably, Vlahovic scored his second brace in as many games in the following game against Lecce. After a frustrating first half, the Serb opened the scoring on the hour mark after scoring a tricky volley from Cambiaso’s cross. His second was probably the easiest goal he’ll ever steal score when McKennie’s header from Filip Kostic’s cross was going into goal, but Vlahovic toepoked it over the line to ensure his name would be on the scoresheet. Good thing McKennie is a nice guy because other players might have been a little irritated to see their goal stolen like that. Bremer scored the third goal thanks to a great header from Iling-Junior’s free kick: 3-0!

Juventus’ Brazilian defender Gleison Bremer Silva Nascimento... Photo by Antonio Balasco/KONTROLAB/LightRocket via Getty Images

Unfortunately, January ended on a negative note with a 1-1 home draw with Empoli. After his fantastic hat trick against Frosinone a few weeks earlier, Milik let his team down when VAR upgraded his wild tackle in the 18th minute from a yellow to a red card. While it certainly helped that this happened against Empoli, the team with the worst goalscoring record in the league, it still made life extremely difficult for the Bianconeri. Thankfully, the red-hot Vlahovic put the home side in the lead after pouncing on a loose ball in the box from a corner.

But the worst attack of the league chose a very irritating time to remember how to score. Tommaso Baldanzi took advantage of the fact that goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny’s vision was blocked and sidefooted a perfectly precise shot into the bottom corner: 1-1. A draw that felt like a defeat and increased the distance between us and league leaders Inter.

Juventus Women

Juventus started the year with a bang as they beat close rivals Roma 2-1 to win the Italian Super Cup. A 12th-minute own goal by Evelyne Viens gave Juve the early lead, but Saki Kumagai scored before half time to bring the teams level into half time. Maelle Garbino was the hero of the day as her magical left-footed curler in the 54th minute found the top corner and proved to be the winning goal: 2-1 and the first title of 2024 is already in the bag!

From one massive game to the next as the Bianconere welcomed Milan to Turin for a league match. Barbara Bonansea opened the scoring in the 25th minute but ex-Juventina Andrea Staskova equalized just a few minutes later. Sofia Cantore scored the winning goal in the second half to give Juventus their second consecutive 2-1 victory!

Juventus v AC Milan - Women Serie A Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

The Bianconere claimed its most convincing victory of the month when they beat Sampdoria 4-0 in the first leg of the Coppa Italia. Although she didn’t score, the day was all about Arianna Caruso as she made her 200th appearance for the club. Bonansea scored a fine solo effort in the first half and Cristiana Girelli scored the second from a rebound after the goalkeeper saved her penalty. Bonansea scored a goal even more impressive than her first for the 3-0 before Garbino scored a goal-of-the-season contender in the 66th minute. The only negative was Cecilia Salvai’s second yellow card that rules her out of what should be a relatively easy second leg.

Joe Montemurro’s team then got a narrow 1-0 victory away at Sassuolo thanks to an 89th minute goal, her first for the club, by new signing Jennifer Echegini. She pounced on a loose ball in the box after Lisa Boattin’s cross and fired the ball past the goalkeeper. Juventus unfortunately dropped points for the first time in 2024 after a battling 2-2 draw with Fiorentina. Madelen Janogy put her team in the lead early in the game but Julia Grosso equalized a few minutes later. Janogy scored again but was pegged back yet again, this time by Jennifer Echegini in the 74th minute.

Transfers

Juventus conducted so little transfer business in January that Danny had to remind me to add this segment to my monthly review.

The Bianconeri signed the versatile Portuguese defender Tiago Djaló from Lille, the second player to join us from the French club in less than a year. The highly-rated and very versatile defender will likely be one for next season given that he’s currently injured and hasn’t played in the last 10 months after undergoing major knee surgery in March 2023.

Juventus then completed a surprising and very quick transfer for Southampton midfielder Carlos Alcaraz. He joins on loan for the rest of the season with a staggering €49.5 million option to make the move permanent, a fee that he will have to do a lot to justify in the brief time that he’ll be with us.

The last bit of big transfer news of the month was the transfer that never was. Moise Kean was seemingly inches away from joining his former teammate Álvaro Morata at Atlético de Madrid on loan for the rest of the season but the Spanish club canceled the deal at the last minute. They believed that Kean would take so long to recover from his injury that it wouldn’t be worth it for them to sign him.

Juventus v SSC Napoli - Serie A TIM Photo by Emmanuele Ciancaglini/Ciancaphoto Studio/Getty Images

Other than that, there were a few small transfer stories that didn’t result in anything this transfer window:

  • Young Belgian midfielder Joseph Nonge was seemingly close to joining relegation battlers Granada in Spain but decided to stay with Juventus and train with the senior team/play for the Next Gen team.
  • He’s having a breakout season this year and teams all over the world have noticed: Matias Soulé (and Juventus) rejected an offer of €30 million from Al-Ittihad that would have resulted in a very, very substantial increase in Soulé’s wages. Thankfully, Soulé did what was best for his football career.
  • Juventus tried and tried to sign a midfielder on a short-term deal — first Lazar Samardzic (Udinese), then Giacomo Bonaventura (Fiorentina), and finally ex-Juventus midfielder Roberto Pereyra (Udinese) — but were unsuccessful on each time. They eventually settled on signing the aforementioned Alcaraz on loan.

From Left to Right

Andrea Cambiaso has been one of the many success stories this season for Juventus. He was a contender for man-of-the-match in the opening game against Udinese but disappeared a little in the month or two after that.

And now, he’s back.

While I think it’s a coincidence that his improvement in form has come at the same time as his move from the left to the right wing, his consistency on either wing and two-footedness shows the remarkable growth he has had with Juventus. He has been so good on his “wrong” side that he has kept the natural right winger/wingback Tim Weah out of the team.

Andrea Cambiaso of Juventus Fc in action during the Serie A... Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images

I know that many of us recognize Kenan Yildiz’s incredible form as a big reason that Vlahovic has played so well and scored so many goals in the last month and a half, but I think we need to recognize Cambiaso’s form as another important contributor to the team’s attacking output. A few months ago, I mentioned that I was worried that we placed too much burden on Chiesa to be the creative spark for this team and that we needed more attacking contributions from the wingbacks to reduce that burden.

Thankfully, Cambiaso has swooped in from the left to the right wing to help solve part of that problem. And his unexpected versatility is another quality that will continue to make him a critical part of Allegri’s team and probably make the return of a Juventus cult hero unnecessary.