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Game Time Thread: Juventus vs. Sampdoria - Black & White & Read All Over
Could this be the day that sees Juve win the Scudetto again?
One win. Thats it. Thats all Juventus needs to wrap up a ninth straight Scudetto. Nothing more. Nothing less. Its that simple when Juventus hosts Sampdoria at Allianz Stadium tonight to wrap up the 36th round of football in Serie A this season. This is the same situation Juventus found themselves in just a couple of days ago. It was that day where Juve coughed up another second-half lead, lost 2-1 to relegation-threatened Udinese and was forced to put the Scudetto celebration on hold for the time being. But, things are just as simple to figure out again. The results that Juve needed to potentially clinch the title without even playing didnt happen Saturday, thus making this late Sunday night the one thing that needs to go the reigning champions way for there to be another title celebration in Turin. Not that we really expected things to totally go in Juves favor since this is a season where logic and reason have been somewhat thrown out the door and expecting the top-of-the-table sides to always do the thing theyre predicted to do doesnt end very well sometimes. But the fact still remains that Juventus, the Serie A leaders who have only won once in their last five games, have a chance to win the league title tonight. Maybe in another year that wouldnt be the case. But in this season, one that has seen a whole lot of stupid things happen even when you dont consider the three-month suspension of play, that is where we find ourselves with three Juventus games to go. So maybe tonight will be the night where a title will be clinched. I sure hope so. I really dont feel like writing the same kind of match preview for the third consecutive game. You probably dont want to read that, either which I understand. MATCH INFO When: Sunday, July 26, 2020 Where: Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy Official kickoff time: 9:45 p.m. local time in Italy and across Europe; 8:45 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 3:45 p.m. Eastern Time; 12:45 p.m. Pacific Time STARTING LINEUPS Juventus starting XI (4-3-3): Szczesny; Danilo, de Ligt, Bonucci, Alex Sandro; Rabiot, Pjanic, Matuidi; Cuadrado, Dybala, Ronaldo Juventus bench: Buffon, Pinsoglio, Rugani, Demiral, Ramsey, Bentancur, Muratore, Higuain, Bernardeschi, Olivieri, Zanimacchia Sampdoria starting XI (4-4-2): Audero; Depaoli, Yoshida, Chabot, Augello; Linetty, Thorsby, Bertolacci, Jankto; Ramirez, Quagliarella HOW TO WATCH Television: RAI Italia North America (United States); RAI Italia North America, TLN (Canada); Premier Player 1 (United Kingdom); Sky Sport Serie A, Sky Sport Uno (Italy) Online/mobile: ESPN+ (United States); DAZN (Canada); Premier Player HD (United Kingdom); Sky Go Italia (Italy) Other live viewing options can be found here, and as always, you can also follow along with us live and all the stupid things we say on Twitter. If you havent already, join the community on Black & White & Read All Over, and join in the discussion below.
Juventus 3 - Genoa 1: Initial reaction and random observations - Black & White & Read All Over
Sources tell us that Juventus scored three incredibly nice goals. Waiting to confirm.
You wanted some style points, you got them. And then some. Holy cow. The goals Juventus scored against Genoa in Tuesday nights 3-1 win at the Luigi Ferraris were both the moments of individual brilliance this team can show, but also the kind of Whatever you can do, I can do better... scenario where it seems like the bar for scoring goals in this game was set incredibly high right from the very first one. The good part in all of this? About five seconds before Paulo Dybala scored his weaving and winding goal through the Genoa defense, I was sitting down at my desk and firing up ESPN+. To that point, Juventus hadnt scored a goal, but seemed like it wasnt as terrible as some of the first-half performances weve seen in the Bologna and Lecce fixtures. (Those werent great!) So, basically what Im trying to say is that Juventus just needed me to watch. Obviously. /reads the room/ /immediately leaves/ This is what we wanted to see from this team knowing full well that when Tuesday nights game kicked off, Lazio had just cut Juves lead down to one single point in Serie A. The pressure to answer Lazio was there, just as much as it was for Juventus not to shoot themselves in the foot (again) during a trip to the Marassi. It has been a house of horrors there are plenty of other ways to describe it, trust me for Juventus in recent years, and this was looked at as another potential place where Juve could slip up if they didnt keep their act together. Luckily for us, we saw three of the best goals weve seen all season. Seeing as who scored those goals Dybala, Cristiano Ronaldo and Douglas Costa it might not be a surprise to see them doing those types of things. That said, to see three goals of that quality put forth in one game hell, ONE HALF! and have them come at a time in the title race where Juventus could have seen its margin for error almost entirely go up in smoke if things didnt go right in Genoa, thats what makes them even better. Even though Genoa is a team that is not very good at all and in a battle to not get relegated to Serie B, Juve needed their big players to step up tonight. And with three moments of brilliance that led to goals, Juventus stars in attack did just that. Harlem Globetrotters stuff from Juventus tonight. Every one of these goals has been a gem. Nicky Bandini (@NickyBandini) June 30, 2020 Not a bad thing to see only a few moments after walking out of an hour-long work meeting. So, from me to you, Juventus, thank you for giving us something to be happy about. We need more of that these days, and if that means scoring pretty goal after pretty goal, then so be it, my friends. The more they want to make that a regular thing, then go for it. You wont find any of us around here complaining about it. RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- If there were any thoughts from folks either here or in the Italian press about Miralem Pjanic losing interest now that he knows hes going to Barcelona in a few months, lets just check out how he reacted to Dybalas goal, shall we?
- Oh, and by the way, Pjanic also did this against Genoa: 101 touches, 92.4 percent pass completion and he recorded his first assist in Serie A play since NOVEMBER. Thatll do just fine.
- There was a short discussion on Twitter between myself and fellow BWRAO cohort Hunter after the Ronaldo goal: Who wouldnt want to celebrate their goal with Carlo Pinsoglio? If Gigi Buffon is basically the dad of the team, then Pinsoglio is the cool uncle who is just the life of the party whenever you seem him. Judging by how Pinsoglio acts on the bench and during goal celebrations, hes probably the life of the party when hes at home, too.
- Some more fun with stats, this is what Dybala finished at: goal, assist, 4 key passes and he completed nearly 95 percent of his passes. We dont know whether Dybala has truly reached his full fitness levels after dealing with COVID-19 for a couple of months, but he damn well has come out of the suspension of play looking just as good as he did before it. (And Im not just saying hes handsome, even though he is very handsome.)
- One final nugget of stats: Juan Cuadrado had four tackles, four interceptions and led the team in touches (again) with 119. Remember, this is Juventus starting right back were talking about here, not a central midfielder like Pjanic or Rodrigo Bentancur. Thatll do.
- Of course you knew that Juves best fullback these days would be somebody who isnt even a right back. This season is so stupid.
- I would love to know the radar gun reading on Cristiano Ronaldos goal. That has to be one of his best-struck shots of the season. Mattia Perin is a very reflex-y goalkeeper and even he had no chance at stopping that shot. It was perfect placement on top of having as much velocity as any goal Ronaldo has scored this season.
- And then you have Douglas Costas goal which is just rediculous and then some.
- Its just that kind of insane ability that makes Costa the difference-making sub you know, when the game is actually close that this team needs right now. Is he the better player than Federico Bernardeschi? Yeah, probably. But when you see what Costa has done in the last two games off the bench compared to when he hits the wall after 50 or 60 minutes as a starter, its pretty easy to figure out that hitting the opposition with a fresh Costa as they really begin to tire is the way to go right now.
- And then you have Juventus defending on Genoas goal which was ... not great. First letting the cross come through the box untouched, then seeing Juan Cuadrado get shook out of his boots. Just not exactly something Juve will want to have on their end of season highlight film. At least they have the goals from earlier in the game to spotlight instead.
Juventus 0 (1) - AC Milan 0 (1): Initial thoughts and random observations - Black & White & Read All Over
Hey, an away goal turns out to be a good thing!
If you were wondering how long it would take for Italian football to get back its on-field controversy, stupid and everything-in-between kind of ways, you didnt have to wait long. It took all of 15 minutes for there to be a VAR-centric penalty, a couple seconds after seeing Cristiano Ronaldo miss said penalty kick, there was a red card. It was all so ... Italian. And yet, during this time, Juventus actually looked good. For much of the game anyway. Weird to say right out of the gate following nearly 3 12 months in between games, right? Yet, after 90 minutes of play and some weirdness in between, things were just the same as they were when Juventus and Milan were supposed to play this game in March. There were moments of good, maybe just as many moments of not-very-good, but Juve is headed to the Coppa Italia final to face either Napoli or Inter after Friday nights scoreless draw that allowed the Old Lady to advance on away goals. Yes, Juventus second game back from over three months without a game will be a cup final. And it will just so happen to be against a heated rival no matter the case. That sounds fun, doesnt it? I didnt know what to expect coming into this game seeing as weve never seen a situation like this before in our lifetime. Can you remember a time where theres over three months between games, a limited amount of training sessions and then your team jumps right into the second leg of a cup semifinal? And Im not talking about the season ending in May and then Juve rolling onto some random stadiums field in late July or early August for a preseason friendly. There were moments mostly in the first half where Juventus did look good. I want to give them that. But there were also times where, despite being up a man after Milans red card seconds after Ronaldos penalty clanged off the post, you could truly tell that this team still needs to get its footing back under it because of such a long layoff. Knee-jerk reactions about how Juve looked over the course of 90 minutes after three months between games wouldnt really be fair to them because this is a scenario that none of us have seen before. And I would like to hope that, with so many games in such a short period of time, that the fitness levels and everything that comes with it, can return in somewhat quick order. But in terms of this game, it was a total mixed bag. And knowing the circumstances with which it comes with, its totally understandable. Juventus didnt play all that great in the grand scheme of things, and thats perfectly OK. Sure, call me the ever-faithful optimist, but its not like this is the current climate in the world where optimism is just brimming with every step we take during the day. Maybe the most important thing is that Juventus just played a game. And after three months of waiting and dealing with Italian bureaucracy at its finest, a game amidst a global pandemic was just what the mind and heart needed no matter how Juve played. RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Pre-game thought No. 1: Of course after spitting out around 450 words in the match preview about Rodrigo Bentancur playing as Juves regista, Sarri goes and starts Miralem Pjanic in that spot. Maybe thats how I should have known that calcio really is back.
- Pre-game thought No. 2: In case you didnt see it during the warm-ups, Milan came out with BLACK LIVES MATTER front and center on their shirts. Juventus, on the other hand, shoehorned NO RACISM onto the bottom both literally and figuratively of their pre-game shirts. This is one of the few current-day occasions where I wish Juve were more like Milan.
- Speaking of Bentancur ... hes so good.
- I know Im 100 percent biased and will always be that way with Bentancur, but hes just so good.
- Fun with stats: Who had as many tackles (4) as Bentancur in the first half? Danilo. Freakin Danilo, man.
- There were definitely moments especially in the second half where I was basically thinking to myself Yeah, this team has definitely not played a game in three months. I guess we can chalk that up to why the overall level of play slipped as the second half went on. They just couldnt keep up the high pace (and pressing) that were present in the opening 45 minutes. Gotta acknowledge that considering they have, in fact, not played a game in three months.
- Who knew that one of the players that looked about as off as anybody would be Ronaldo. Hes human.
- Knowing what we know about which Juventus players dealt with COVID-19 and that Paulo Dybala was only recently given a full and clean bill of health, were you surprised that he played a full 90 minutes? Because I kinda was.
- Dybala had a handful of scoring chances where you were left thinking that if he hadnt just had the last three months without a game he would have found the back of the net. This is just something that were all gonna have to get used to with so much time in between fixtures.
- One of the better parts to come out of this game: My growing appreciation for being able to hear some of the reactions to things now that the stadiums are empty and without crowds. If there were 40,000-plus people watching this game and, yeah, it would have been played in March (or 2021) if that was the case you wouldnt have been able to hear the Juventus bench react to something that Milan did wrong. I just wanna believe that Carlo Pinsoglio is the leader of all that because it would be very fitting of somebody with the kind of personality that Carlo Pinsoglio has.
- Also, because of social distancing on the bench, we got this:
- Its onto Rome, I guess. Cool!