Mano Grab Bag: French Dispatch

Juventus He won a European match.

after starting Champions League In their season with consecutive losses, the Bianconeri finally noticed their first W of the continental season in Wednesday’s midweek match as they beat Israeli side Maccabi Haifa 3-1 at Allianz Stadium.

In what was truly a do-or-die game, Juventus played as good a game as they seem these days and earned some points for the first time this year in the world’s most prestigious club competition.

Let’s cook.

Best player: Adrien Rabiot

You all called me crazy, crazy! But I was right! Adrien Rabiot is the best midfielder alive!

Well, maybe not quite the best, but this was a game that offered everything we hoped and wanted Rabiot to be when he signed for Juventus three years ago. The two goals would get all the headlines – and they were both goals scored really well, don’t get me wrong – but it’s his overall performance that got him the nod here.

We have always known about Rabiot’s talent, but the problem with him has always been. But to be fair with the abused Frenchman, this has been his most consistent season yet.

True, not every performance was as high as what we saw against Maccabi, but it’s no exaggeration to point out that he was the most consistent player in midfield. Unsurprisingly, this comes in one season as he was posted mostly to his favorite position as a midfielder.

The skeptics in us all probably attribute this to his outstanding free agency, but there is a very reasonable argument that he plays better simply because he finally plays where he always was supposed to.

Runners-up: Angel Di Maria – Three assists! He had a game of ups and downs but undeniably three assists. Choose a very decent place to have his best match as a Juventus player. A good example of how often having good players can make the difference.

Grab Bag MVP: Dusan Vlahovic (7 points)

absent fans

For what seemed like a few games in a row now, the Allianz Stadium looked noticeably empty in a game that was very meaningful.

It’s hard to blame the Faithful for their recent absences because the team didn’t give them much to root for in a September that had virtually no wins. But you always kind of hope that people will come to the champions’ matches… and that was not the case against Benfica and now against Maccabi.

(Is €86 too much to pay for a Champions League match ticket? That’s what I’ve seen some tickets put up online in the secondary market, and I don’t know if it’s too expensive for a local person. Match vs. AC Milan It was over €150, which I think is a good deal, but it’s hard to say if you’re not local and/or get paid by the Euro.)

Juventus haven’t been uninspiring for nearly a year in a row, but even in this period, the fans have stayed by their side on the field. They better hope that recent shows will reignite lost crowds because the home domain advantage is only there when there are real people cheering you on.

The goalkeeper controversy…?

Re Mattia Perrin?

Wojciech Szczesny has always been a reliable goalkeeper for the most part, but had a very big role in Maccabi’s only goal in the game. Defeat so easily isn’t the greatest manifestation of Juve’s defensive line, but I felt that Woj beat his line in a way too reckless to allow a goal to be scored.

Let’s just say that when you charge the field and end up trying to save out of your box, it’s fair to say that this was a reckless challenge.

The team has won, who cares, right? But when you have a guy in good shape like Perin, it’s hard not to think about whether Max Allegri shouldn’t run hot handed, regardless of whether Woj is the solid start or not.

waste of resources

Despite the win, Juventus’ troubling trend continued as they managed to maintain a remarkably ineffective team with goal-scoring opportunities. You’ll never convert 100% of your shots, but this was a game that would have been easy to slip out of hand earlier if only marginally better at shooting.

Dusan Vlahovic is probably the biggest culprit as he could have scored two goals after wasting two clear chances in the first half alone. But he’s not alone, Moise Kean himself was also a howler with his limited minutes.

Juventus don’t generate many chances at best and being ineffective on the few chances they get only exacerbates the problem. It seems like a strange point when Juventus just scored six goals in two games, but even with such positive results, this disease persists until Bianconeri.

parting shot of the week

Despite not getting help from the other match in the group, Juventus is finally on the board. Qualifying still seems very difficult – some would say impossible – at this point, but they had to start somewhere.

(At worst, the three points help them increase the total if they end up in the Europa League for the first time in years.)

So far, all results have been positive for the beleaguered side after the international break, but the relative good feelings will be tested immediately as Juventus visit Milan on Saturday for a match against the team. Rossoneri.

As difficult as the match they had in the local competition, it should be a good test to see if this team turned a corner or not.

See you Saturday.

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