It’s been an almost perfect 11 days in the life of Juventus.
The Bianconeri brought their winless start to the season to an end with a 3-2 victory over Spezia, repeated that scoreline four days later to beat Sampdoria, shocked European champions Chelsea with a throwback display and 1-0 win, and then pinched the Derby della Mole bragging rights with another 1-0 win.
12 points on offer, and 12 points in the bag. So, how come these 11 days are only almost perfect?
Well, the results tell one story, but the performances tell a very, very different one. Juve have been far from convincing in any of their league wins, and even though their stoic display against the Blues was as Allegrismo as they come, it’s not exactly a blueprint they can follow every week.
Their final glory before the international break – the 1-0 win over rivals Torino – will be one of the sweetest, but it was also one of the most fortunate.
Massimiliano Allegri’s men were miles off the pace in the first half, totalling less than 40% possession and not managing a single shot on target for the entire 45 minutes. The Italian coach’s setup with Moise Kean leading the line didn’t work, so much so that he completely changed shape at half-time.
The introduction of Juan Cuadrado provided an outlet that had been sorely lacking in the first half, but even then, Juve were completely toothless in front of goal. Alex Sandro had the best chance of the game, arriving late into the box and heading straight at Torino goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic.
That was as good as it got, until Manuel Locatelli decided to show everyone exactly why he’s Juventus’ standout midfielder.
The 23-year-old’s moment of individual brilliance won the match for the Bianconeri, spinning on the edge of the area and curling the sweetest of strikes into the bottom corner of Milinkovic-Savic’s goal.
It was five seconds of genuine quality, and spoke of a team beginning to learn the art of winning matches under Allegri. It doesn’t have to be beautiful, it doesn’t even have to be deserved – just get the three points.
Ultimately however, Juve were lucky to get this one over the line. Against a better opposition on another day, they may not have been so fortunate to arrive level as they entered the final minutes.
The truth is, this team has a long way to go, and even if they can imitate the Juve of old with the odd ‘classic Allegri’ display, they’re a very different animal right now. To begin with, the starting lineup is seriously lacking in inspiration and talent.
Adrien Rabiot, Federico Bernardeschi and Weston McKennie should be nowhere near the 11 best players in Turin, and the fact they turn in stinkers week after week suggests Allegri simply doesn’t have any other options at his disposal.
Kean’s display against Torino will also raise questions over whether he truly has what it takes, or if his abject spell at Everton has caused irreparable damage to his confidence. In reality, the boy just needs time.
Pavel Nedved’s declaration that Kean is their present and future shows the faith they hold in the Italian, but he cannot carry the goalscoring burden on his own. And a decent team and a winning formula needs to be built around Federico Chiesa, or they risk losing their superstar to one of Europe’s giants.
So, 12 points is as good a quantitative return as Allegri could have hoped for, but in terms of the detailed, qualitative data, there is plenty to ponder over the next two weeks of international football.