The Day After Breakdown: Juventus vs Napoli
Torino, April 8th, 2021 – A massive, much-needed boost for the Bianconeri, coming just in time for the final stretch of the season. Through a combination of decisions made by the league regarding COVID-19, the rescheduling of this fixture, and also given the tight battle for a place in next year’s Champions League – there had been a great deal of anticipation and drama leading up to yesterday’s match. Juventus finally showed the spirit that is expected from all players who sport the black and white stripes, and what a result it was.
Chiesa, mamma mia
I’ll be honest – when Chiesa had arrived at Juventus, I was somewhat skeptical. For a player that young, for quite a large sum of money, coming from (in recent years) a bottom-feeder club – I was quite unsure. There had even been many comparisons to that of Bernardeschi’s transfer from Fiorentina years ago, but of course – this narrative was likely only to sell papers, and generate clicks. Personally, I saw the need to address other areas of the pitch before bringing in yet another forward. But goodness – was my instinct ever wrong. Chiesa has proved in a very short time that he has the fighting spirit that Juventus so desperately needed and gives everything he has to help his teammates on the pitch – thus quickly becoming a fan favorite.
In the match against Napoli, Chiesa’s strong mentality and quality were on full display. For the full ninety minutes, Federico was running straight at players, continuously wanting to get on the ball, and caused many problems for Napoli’s backline. Chiesa helped his team to a strong start against Gattuso’s in-form side by putting both Insigne and Hysaj on skates, followed by presenting the ball on a platter for Cristiano Ronaldo, who finished the move with great composure. Grande, Fede – you’ve got all Juventus fans thinking that $66 million is a bargain. Avanti cosi!
Juve’s crowned jewel has returned
Paulito suffered an injury in January, only expected to be sidelined for a couple of weeks. Unfortunately for Dybala, weeks quickly turned into months. I must say, his presence was sorely missed. There has been a gap for quite some time in this Juventus side, that Dybala’s contribution would have definitely helped to address. Juventus were missing his creative interpretation of the game, intelligent link-up play, and attacking flair in the final third. In the short period of time he had in Wednesday’s game, Dybala displayed exactly this. Dybala was calm in possession, applied pressure when necessary, and of course – provided that final touch of quality that the Old Lady has been missing in recent weeks.
If I know anything about Dybala, it’s that he loves this club and would do anything for the badge. I can only imagine that it’s been a tough year for La Joya, from starting the season becoming ill with coronavirus, rumors regarding his contract extension, and injuries – he needed that goal more than anything. His contribution may have come a little too late into Juve’s campaign, but it was quite obvious how much it meant to him and the squad. In what has been a wonky season, many are left wondering how much more he could have contributed alongside Ronaldo – as they are undoubtedly the duo with the most quality on this team. Welcome back, Paulo.
There’s only one Gigi Buffon
There’s just something about having Gigi in goal – just his presence itself makes all the difference to the Bianconeri. Buffon, who turned 43 years of age back in January, proved that he still has the quality needed to play for a top side such as Juventus. If you watched and listened to the game, he was very hard to ignore – throughout the entirety of the broadcast, I could hear Buffon shouting at his teammates (quite clearly, might I add) and directing his backline.
It can be argued that Gigi was in goal for some of our most important fixtures this season (i.e.: Barcelona, Napoli), and quite obviously for good reason – as Juve had gotten the positive result in these matches. Personally, I would like to see Buffon see out the rest of the season in goal for Juventus, as the Bianconeri just seem so much more composed and at ease with Gigi directing his soldiers from the back. However, do not misinterpret this as any slander toward Szczęsny – he had saved our behinds on plenty of occasions this season. Tek had also been overworked, starting almost every game – so rest for him was necessary.
I cried watching Buffon say goodbye to all the Juventus fans at the Allianz Stadium the first time when he had gone to play with PSG – but honestly, I think the next time we have to say goodbye will be much more difficult. Buffon will leave a huge void at Juventus that will be very tough to fill. Please, enjoy him while you can. We love you Gigi.