Goals change games. That’s pretty much football 101. That’s how the game works. But not every goal is created equal. This week in Serie A, the true value of a goal was shown to be different on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So let’s take a look at the three goals that defined the weekend and why they differed so widely.
This isn’t exactly a hot take, but damn that Juventus defense can be impressive, even after losing two key figures from last season’s rearguard. Massimiliano Allegri has created a defensive unit that, on its day, can shut down the most potent of offenses. They don’t sit super deep or press super high, but their supreme organization dulls even the sharpest of attacks.
The Bianconeri defense pitched a ninth shutout of the season in a 1-0 blanking of league-leading Napoli on Friday at Stadio San Paolo in Naples, the home side’s first Serie A loss of the season.
Barcelona’s assured display in a 0-0 draw with Juventus on Wednesday guaranteed the Blaugrana top spot in Champions League Group D, and with Lionel Messi spending the better part of the opening hour on the bench in Turin, the usual Barca suspects came to the fore to help their side navigate this tricky tie.
Barcelona-Juventus ended 0-0 and Messi only made a substitute appearance, but there was plenty of incredible soccer to go around. For example, in the first half Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets found himself being pressed by Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic. Did Busquets safely pass the ball back to a center half or his goalkeeper? No. Did he panic and hoof the pall up the pitch in the general direction of Luis Suarez? No.
Instead, Busquets calmly (and slowly) gave Pjanic the ol' Zidane roulette before (still slowly) skipping away and finding Ivan Rakitic.
This is the official end of an era for the Italy national team. After a 0-0 draw with Sweden on Monday, combined with a 1-0 defeat on Friday, Italy will not be at the 2018 World Cup, ending a run of 14 straight World Cup appearances. The dominoes are already falling in the aftermath of the Azzurri failing to qualify.