Wow. Talk about a great escape. We’re so toothless Udinese just closed down the wings and for 85 minutes we’re reduced to one golden chance, an open header off the corner kick where Weston McKennie completely missed the target.
The day before, I was relieved to hear that Federico Chiesa had recovered and would play but turned out the media just speculated and were completely wrong. He didn’t even travel to Udine. Well, with our only good direct weapon out of the game, I was worried. Paulo Dybala was just returning from a long absence and out of form. Our only no.9 Alvaro Morata was not 100% and not in the top form. Our GOAT Cristiano Ronaldo couldn’t take on defenders anymore and was miles off top gear. On the other end, we keep leaking goals from mental errors so we can lose points to just about every club.
Coach Andrea Pirlo kept his 4-4-2 and started Woj Szczesny; Danilo, Matthijs de Ligt, Leonardo Bonucci, Alex Sandro; Juan Cuadrado, Rodrigo Bentancur, McKennie, Federico Bernardeschi; Cristiano, Dybala.
The home team didn’t have their no.1 Juan Musso due to suspension (and it turned out to be decisive) and main striker Ilija Nestorovski, among others, so coach Luca Gotti had Stefano Okaka upfront supported by our former player Roberto Pereyra and stuck with 3-5-2/3-5-1-1: Simone Scuffet; Becao, Bonifazi, Nuytinck; Molina, De Paul, Wallace, Arslan, Larsen; Pereyra; Okaka.
To be fair, with Chiesa’s absence and others out of form and as the result we were impotent offensively, we were good in the defensive phase and had improved from the last few games. Unfortunately, we couldn’t shake off the mental error and again conceded because of it.
Udinese were average but in the 10th minute, Rodrigo De Paul saw our lack of focus in a free kick situation and passed the ball into the penalty box to RWB Nahuel Molina and he was immediately one-on-one with Szczesny. Tek got a touch but couldn’t prevent the ball going into the net.
To make matters worse, Udinese showed us how easily any clubs in Serie A can neutralize Juve’s attack, especially without Chiesa in it.
Personally, I immediately crossed out any chance we might score from an open play.
Things didn’t improve in the second half. In fact, had there been better individuals, they would’ve scored at least two more goals from counters. Luckily, their quality (or poor luck) kept the score 1-0.
This game was also Bernardeschi’s rare chance to start and impress the team and fans and yet, he failed. Again. Udinese did double the wings but he almost never tried to go and attack the final third, always passed it back down or to the middle.
My guess is Juve will try to sell or loan him out but his salary, 4m/year, will be tough to swallow by any top European teams during this pandemic-effected economy.
We did get lucky though…In the 84th minute, Juve were awarded a free kick outside Udinese’s penalty box and while we knew Cristiano would hit the wall, and he did…but he hit De Paul’s inexplicably outstretched elbow and we got a penalty! Scuffet had no chance. 1-1.
A minute later, Pirlo subbed Adrien Rabiot and our U23 player Felix Correia came in and the game changed. They attacked the left wing and opened up the opponents’ defense. On the 89th minute, a semi-long cross from the left by Rabiot found the thrusting Cristiano and he headed the ball in between Scuffet’s legs! 1-2!!
I don't think it would've gone in had Musso been in goal but a goal is a goal.
A five-minute additional stoppage time went by and Juve, who haven’t been able to flip the score in the last minutes of the game this season, magically brought the three points home.
I like what I saw from Correia. He lacks strength to be influential in Serie A games presently but he can play. Hopefully he adds muscles and does not lose the agility and burst of pace.
We did get the three points but the many problems are still there. Without Chiesa and without luck, there’s a good chance we won’t be able to win any of the four games remaining. I don’t know if it’s because he’s not 100% or for other reasons such as his mind set on escaping the horror, but Cristiano hasn’t been able to take on his defenders lately. He scores goals though so he has to play. I hope the forwards regain some of their form and help us finish in the top four.