A much-needed win after a disastrous last couple of days both in the league and in Champions. While we all saw that the team looked a bit shaky early on, as the game progressed it turned into the type of game that everyone expected against the bottom of the table Crotone. Nevertheless, it must be said that Crotone did not play like the bottom dwellers, especially in the first half when they had one or two decent chances that were not put away. The defense played great today, the two young guns Demiral and De Ligt made sure there was no major threat to Buffon’s goal. The unit as a whole doing its job quietly and effectively.
In this game, we saw Ronaldo return to what Ronaldo does best, two headers two goals. We also had him miss two sitters, he was involved in all facets of the Juve attack from start to finish. He was certainly hungry to make a difference once again after his latest performances, his misses in this game were taken with immense frustration, he knows he can do better and this is the type of mentality that we need from many others in this team. Kulusevski for the most part was his companion tonight and remain oddly quiet, despite his occasional runs into the box. Chiesa on the other hand will go off the radar for his performance in this game simply because he won’t appear on the score sheet. Regardless, a great performance from Chiesa, running nonstop up and down the flanks, attempting to win the ball back at every opportunity. A lot of the same could be said for McKennie, yet another notable game for the young American. He continues to make a difference and provide arguably the most notable danger off corners for Juve. Not only does he have the physical presence to dominate in the box, but he also provides a great volleying ability shown in this game and crucially against Barcelona as well. All I can personally think of is wow, what a steal this kid has been and as an American, I am so proud of him for putting the USMNT on the map.
One of the most disappointing trends taken into account today was the performance of the increasingly out-of-form Aaron Ramsey. While he did provide a good assist on the night, his performance outside of this was completely disappointing. Multiple chances to get on the scoresheet for himself and he missed every single one of them, one of them a face to face sitter in front of goal. A careless yellow card in the game also compromised his overall performance. Unfortunately, none of his appearances on the field recently merit him a starting place in Pirlo’s midfield. He increasingly looks frustrated and indecisive, far from the midfielder that we saw arrive at a great period in his career following his productive years at Arsenal. It seems like when he reaches the final third he simply doesn't know what to do. As other young midfielders develop around him including Arthur and Fagioli, it will be increasingly difficult for Ramsey to cement a place in this team at all.
In contrast to Ramsey, Danilo had a great game. He ended up starting the attack in the second goal after hustling to intercept a ball in defense then dashing down the field running hard to pass to Ramsey to end the attack. Danilo did this more than once, he also had another attack in which he had another brilliant run to the edge of the box and passed to Ramsey who subsequently missed a decent chance. His runs are increasingly having positive effects and it is great to see a player that I and many other Juventini were so skeptical of before the start of the season have the type of turnaround that he is having so far. His confidence is back and his performances are a welcome addition to a team that had worrying signs at fullback for a while.
We all hope that the younger players that are showing up in cup games or towards the tail ends of league games end up being stars, one of this increasingly getting hype is Nicolo Fagioli. While I’ll be the first to admit, I didn’t know much about him before last season, he looks like a player that could provide an interesting dynamic in the midfield. We will end up getting much more looks of him and Gametime film to analyze his performances, but from what we have seen so far from him this season he looks like a creative player, a good dribbler, and also provides the kind of defensive hustle to make him one of our beloved characteristic box to box midfielders. He is a player to keep an eye on in the next few weeks I feel.