I was sitting around like you all at half-time of Sunday night’s Derby d’Italia when my dad called to ask how things were going. I told him about the work trip I had just come home from just before the game started, and then he asked me how the Juve game was going.
I didn’t really know how to describe it because, again, it was one of those games in the first half where Juventus didn’t really inspire much confidence.
Ah, but that second half.
That second half was nice.
And that second half in which Juventus scored goals from Adrien Rabiot and Nicolo Fagioli gave Max Allegri his biggest win of the season to date, a 2-0 victory over arch-rivals Inter who finally had one of those old-school feels again. Although the first 45 minutes were listless and unimpressive for Juventus, the second half was a completely different story. The aim was to hit Inter on the counter-attack — and that’s exactly what happened, with Filip Kostic playing his best game for the Bianconeri and being at the center of so many good things that came from his quality left foot.
The counterattacks hit.
The goals came because of that.
And Inter, who needed points as much as Juve at the start of this game, were left wondering what the hell happened to every goal-scoring opportunity that Wojciech Szczesny missed or saved. (He was just damn good at this game, wasn’t he? Yeah, I think so too.)
Even after we are already several minutes away from the final whistle, it is difficult to understand and explain how much Juventus needed such a victory against an opponent like Inter. So much of a slight uptick in results over the last few weeks always came with your “Yes, but…” as I knew the performance and result against Inter would be just as important as anyone heading into the World Cup break. Three straight wins coming into the Derby d’Italia was nice, but if Juve lost to Inter – and they probably should have based on the first half results – then would those results mean anything as Max Allegri fumbled in another big match.
I am pleasantly surprised and happy to tell you all that the aforementioned stumble against Inter did not happen, my friends.
Instead, Juventus came out of the break with a clear plan and played it about as well as I could have hoped they would or could have done.
Whether it was after Rabiot’s goal or Fagioli’s clinching, this team played with a welcome energy in the second half that we haven’t seen much of this season. We’ve seen it in small moments during the 2022-2023 season, but not many times over an extended period of time like we got on Sunday. It’s what we were hoping for, not a first-half performance that made you wonder what Allegri was thinking after such a positive performance against Paris Saint-Germain a few days earlier.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that if Juventus play with even a modicum of positivity, rather than the risk-taking side we saw in the first half against Inter, then good things can continue to happen.
Take your foot off the brake, Max. This team is just looking for a positive ball.
They showed it against PSG. They showed it in the second half against Inter. That’s enough for me to beat this drum even more than before. A positive and proactive Juventus is one that can break into the top four — and after Sunday night’s win, they are almost there in the table.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- JUVE TO THE HEEL???? JUVE UNTIL THE FIFTH!!
- Don’t look now, but Juve have gone over 430 minutes without conceding a goal in Serie A. (If you’re mad at me for pointing out a stat that every Italian media outlet is also reporting as I type this whenever the current streak ends, then you need to shut up. I’m not a bribe. )
- I don’t know what Max Allegri said to his team at half time. I don’t know what captain Danilo said to the team at halftime. I don’t know what else anyone said at halftime because I wasn’t there. But the way Juve played in the second half this team needs to be if they want to finish in the top four.
- Adrien Rabiot’s number of Serie A goals in his first three years with Juventus: 5.
- Adrien Rabiot’s Serie A goals during his fourth year at Juventus which hasn’t even halved yet: 5.
- NICOLOOOOOOOOOOO FAGIOLIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII
- Not a bad game for Nicolo Fagioli to make his first Serie A start. For a childhood Juventino who marked a personal milestone like the one in the Derby d’Italia… not bad.
- The above point was written during the early parts of the first half.
- I would like to add an addition: Not a bad game for Nicolo Fagioli to make his first Serie A start and scored his first goal at the Allianz Stadium in. He was a ball player celebrating Paul Dybala’s goal against Inter at the Allianz in March 2020 just before the shutdown. On Sunday, he celebrated an own goal against Inter.
- Start Fagioli against Hellas Verona and Lazio or we will riot, Max.
- MANUEL LOCATELLI BACK????????? Makes you think, folks.
- Maybe my memory is failing me, but I can’t think of too many times in the last few years where all three Juve defenders in the back three have been Brazilian.
- I was worried like almost everyone that Bremer would have to come off at halftime because of the way he hit his knee late in the first half. Instead, Bremer came out and played Serie A defender of the year Bremer in the second half. What a performance.
- And Danilo was absolutely huge at the back against Inter. I know Juve’s defensive record has received a lot of mockery over the past few weeks (and months), but this was the kind of defensive display that gives you hope they’ve got something going there.
- Like, you know, Bremer was at the center of everything and he looked like the player he was in Turin. I think it’s a pretty good start if Juventus want long-term defensive stability.
- You’ll never believe it, but Juve didn’t have a shot on goal in the first half.
- Arek Milik had SIX touches in the first half. Only one of them entered the penalty area. Jesus.
- The arrival of Federico Chiesa as a striker is not ideal, but it is essentially what the situation has demanded in the last two games as there are literally no other strikers available. And while it wasn’t very lively as his first game was in midweek, I think I’m fine with Allegri basically telling Chiesa to “go raise hell on the counter attack.” Tactically smart, I think!
- Okay, I’m talking about the latest instance of VAR here that actually forces us to live in a world that is black and white, and the decision he makes isn’t exactly black and white.
- Danilo scored with a shin, a goal that should have put Juventus 2-0 up long before Nico Fagioli put Juventus up 2-0. It was a goal in which the ball hit Danilo in the hand and then crossed the goal line. The only reason Danilo’s arm was in that position was because Stefan de Vrij had Danilo’s right arm LOCKED in a position where the Brazilian could do absolutely nothing. However, Danilo still scored. So what would Danilo need there? Yes, it’s a decision that boils down to the letter of the law and a technically correct call, but it’s not like Danilo intentionally played the ball with his hand or anything like that. Context matters, but as we know, VAR has no idea what context is.
- Let’s be realistic — imagine what the reaction would have been if Juventus were the team that benefited from that call, and not Inter. It would have been completely different and on Monday morning there would have been absolute outrage in the Italian media.
- So, Filip Kostić had three assists in this game and there’s nothing you can do to tell me otherwise. These are the facts.
- Bone … my God. That’s the kind of performance Juve clearly had in mind when they signed him this summer. It was Kostić’s and Frankfurt’s performance. I like them.
- The Allianz Stadium gave Inter an “OLE!” treatment during the interruption period. It’s been a while since we’ve seen the Turin crowd in such good spirits during the final minutes of a big game mainly because Juventus haven’t been in a winning position in big games lately.