What a difference a week makes! Last week we began with a bad taste in our mouths due to a defeat suffered at the hands of a bitter rivals. This week Juve, and it's fans, spirits have been revitalized with a couple solid performances and their rivals making a mess of the Round 19 Matchday.
Juventus went into a matchup against Bologna looking to continue building off the driven victory versus rivals Napoli in the Supercoppa Italiana, as it was a strong match in terms of approach and mentality, also having our midfield look stable and solid with Bentancur, Arthur & McKennie. The only aspect which could've been improved upon was the effectiveness of our attack and being able to generate more opportunities and not only generating them but capitalizing on them. That has been a trend for what seems to be a couple seasons now with this club, when they generate many chances they simply aren't ruthless enough and clinical to put teams to bed. So, we follow up the Supercoppa victory wondering, will Pirlo go with the same midfield and allow them to further build chemistry? Will we be able to keep the approach consistent and impose our will no matter the opponent? Will we be able to keep pressure on those above us in the table? All these questions were facing the squad.
We head into a weekend fixture vs Bologna having seen our rivals from Milan both dropping points. Atalanta beating AC MIlan 3-0 and Inter only being able to muster a draw against Udinese. Could Juve avoid the banana peel and capitalize on this opportunity? The answer is yes!
Juventus went after it vs Bologna and the scoreline was very flattering for I Rossoblu as Juve controlled the match and generated chances almost at will and could've been up by much more than Arthur's first goal for the Bianconeri. Once again we were not as clinical as we should've been but credit went to Skorupski as well who had a great match. We eventually found that second and saw this one through with a goal from our Texas Tornado Weston McKennie. Add in a loss from Napoli and Juve moves into fourth spot 7 points away from top spot with a game in hand. Hard for Juventini not to be happy about that round as it was pretty much as good as it gets and now the pressure could be mounting on those ahead of us and Juve could be starting to get things right and the most important time of the season with some players returning as well. Matthijs De Ligt the dominating Dutchman returned to action making a cameo in the victory against Bologna. Alex Sandro also returned to the fold and would be available against Spal with the Coppa Italia tie on the horizon.
Leading up to the match against Spal the tune was get some young guys their time and integrate some of the guys returning to action and get them some minutes in this one. We already knew what would be waiting on the other end of this one if we could get the job done and it would be another Derby D'Italia showdown in the semi's as Inter made it past Milan. Our lineup saw a healthy rotation of players but still a side which would no doubt leave Spal stretched and suffering for this one. The main focus was watching yet another youngster and how he would perform for the Bianconeri, Nicolo Fagioli. What do we know about Fagioli? They're good for the heart, the more you eat the more....no no no, what we do know is Allegri had spoken a couple years back about what a delight it was to watch this kid and that he is an exciting prospect. He lived up to what our former manager said. He, in my opinion, was the most comfortable player stepping into action this season as far as youngsters are concerned. He had his head on a swivel and barely put a foot wrong in this one.
The team as a whole did very well and coasted through this one never needing to really come out of first gear. We got two early goals through Morata on a penalty kick in which Rabiot ( who had an incredible match it must be said and earned my Man of the Match vote) did well to draw and then Frabotta with his first goal for Juventus. This one was never in doubt after that but we added two more for good measure. We have now setup the showdown we fans wanted to try and get revenge on Inter and prevent them from an opportunity at a trophy. This will also provide a measuring stick for us to see the growth in which I personally feel we have achieved. It will bring to light whether that loss we suffered to them was in fact just a blackout or if we still have further work to do.
Either way, it will be a great two leg semi final to watch. After this match talks were heavy surrounding that youngster Fagioli. He was also rumoured to possibly be part of the deal for Scamacca. All that was shut down in the days to follow as Juve secured Rovella and saw Portanova, Petrelli and Tongya leaving and giving us 25.2m in plusvalenza. Very nice business by the Bianconeri. Rumours still circulating about the possible addition of Scamacca but Fagioli will be staying with the first team taking Portanova's place. The youngster realizing a dream come true will no doubt be inspired for every second earned, congrats to him.
Now, we head into this weekend facing Sampdoria, looking to keep the momentum building and continue to put pressure on the leaders. Samp coming into this with 3 wins and 2 losses in their last 5 matches and Juventus on a bit of a roll, and very quietly piecing together a nice January, which many fans were dreading at the winter break, and only dropping points in one match. The projected lineup is very strong from Juventus even with the Derby D'Italia Coppa Italia Semi First Leg on Tuesday and rightfully so, as we can't afford to drop points and must put our best foot forward in each match and competition. A message relayed by Pirlo at his press conference. Things seem to be on the up now for Juventus as players are returning to action as we are really only waiting on Dybala now. The team is putting together good performances and more importantly wins. The confidence is building and showing. It's all happening at the right time and is now up to Pirlo and his squad to continue on this path.
I said it before and I'll say it again. Let us be the ones hunting, this may be the best way to keep the fire in the bellies of the old guard and get the youngsters in for the ride as well. Let's hope for another equally satisfying round and mid week match. Forza Juve Fino Alla Fine!