Juventus started the season in confident fashion, beating Sassuolo 3-0 with goals from Angel Di Maria and Dusan Vlahovic – TGP looks back on the game and the key take-aways from the Bianconeri’s first match of the season.
1. Build a foundation
After a preseason the balanced called ‘uninspiring‘, the more optimistic ‘of no consequence‘ and the cynical bastards condemned as ‘disgusting‘….it was impossible to have any sure bearing of what Juve we would find for the season opener.
We were far from convincing in regards to our control of the game, with my trademark nitpicking to flow below and rightly so, yet the bare necessities were always set as Victory, Goals and ideally a Clean sheet. All were achieved.
With the mercato still wide open, too many injuries to potentially key players to expect any newfound momentum and direction from the friendlies and training camp, it was unreasonable to expect too much. A 3-0 opening day victory is a firm foundation to build upon.
2. Have the Body Snatchers finally returned the real Sandro??
As far back as 2019, Sandro appeared to suffer from an alien exchange for a creature or essence which looked like Sandro, though had the legs of a septuagenarian. How the club have not noticed this obvious horror has long proven a conundrum.
Never one to buy into false dawns, for I live by the adage one swallow does not a summer make…However, given my long term repulsion to his selection and constant surprise to be reminded he was in the starting XI only when seeing him subbed in the second half, I must pour much merited praise on the Brazilian. For he was not quite a constant threat, yet found himself often high up the field, supported the offence intelligently and somehow regained the capacity to move out of neutral. Encouraging…
3. The magic noodle
I am one of a few a little sore of not just Dybala’s departure from the ranks, moreso the way he was treated by the club. Having made my moaning widely known, that has passed – as I can wish him well in the capital from afar – giving way to hope and tentative expectation of his vague replacement proving rather special.
The Little Angel aka Fideo (noodle in Spanish) was the most technically gifted player on the field throughout his official debut. An assist, a goal, created further opportunities, several times retained possession when facing two opponents and used it intelligently…even showed impressive pace to retrieve the ball in a race against players a decade younger. This was a strong marker – albeit against a muddled mid table opponent – of what we can hope for from the one year cameo of a truly top drawer player.
He could prove the difference maker against both high and low level opposition.
4. Chances created and converted wins games
We won handsomely. On paper the resounding scoreline appears very positive. And it is.
I must nonetheless include the reality of notes scribbled as I watched the replay earlier today. Part of these ramblings of spilled ink include a period in the first half where we were awful, on the backfoot, conceding attack after attack, with several decent openings created in our box. Depressingly reminiscent of last season.
This improved after the ‘cooling break’ and with the goals coming. Although we continued to fall prey to a series of gilt-edged and solid chances from the visitors. Sassuolo were not contained from start to finish of the game. Had they scored 2-3 goals it would not have been hugely against the run of play, though overall we created more and were more clinical in conversion.
The first goal was well taken yet rather fortunate in how the ball bounced perfectly over the keeper, which I do not believe our beloved Noodleman intended.
The second goal was due as much to clumsy defending as Dusan showing his strength. Yet still a powerfully dispatched penalty.
With the final strike served up on a plate due to a terrible defensive howler and somewhat fortunate deflected pass.
We did have luck on our side, though it is fair to say we made that luck through our own steam and technical superiority.
5. Sharpness and confidence in youth
Despite the bothersome injury to Di Maria, who now appears set to miss up to a month of football, it was pleasing to see the squad appear generally fitter and sharper than expected. Sandro was not the only player impressing. McKennie – playing as a hybrid LCM/LWF – looked in decent shape physically, offering support in the final third, pulling back to tuck in and bulk up the middle of the park and connecting well with the marauding FB. Also Danilo on the opposite flank appeared to grow in confidence getting forward as the game went on and was unfortunate not to grab an assist when Dusan pulled yet another effort wide. On another night the Serb could have scored 4/5.
Soule, Miretti and Rovella all gained valuable minutes late on confirming Max has the confidence more than the necessity to play the best of our strong crop of youth talents pushing for inclusion in the senior squad this season.
Overall, plenty of reasons to be cheerful.