Sometimes when you look at things right after the Champions League draw, you think you have everything figured out about who your opponents will be in a few short weeks. There was Galatasaray, a quarterfinalist in last year's competition, drawn into the same group as Juventus and Real Madrid. They were looked at as a challenging side that could be capable of exactly what Shakhtar Donetsk did a year ago — shake everything in the group a bit.
Now, about a month later, who really knows what to expect from the squad that is "lucky" enough to employ Felipe Melo.
As Notorious B.I.G. once said, "Things done changed." Galatasaray are currently sitting in the middle of the Turkish Super Lig table having earned four points in five games to begin the season, they've fired one hell of a manager in Fatih Terim and replaced him with...Roberto Mancini? Yeah, it 's actually happened. Mancini has gone from the unemployment line to trying to make Galatasaray a competitive team once again.
Do we know what to expect from Mancini's latest side? No, not really. They've struggled domestically, got hammered at home by Real Madrid, and are now looking to reinvent themselves under Mancini before it's too late. That could work out in Juve's favor, or it could mean nothing whatsoever. Until they take the field and actually start kicking the ball around, Galatasaray are, well, a team Juventus should beat simply based on form.
But there's one thing we do know: This is Juventus' chance to get some breathing room between them and their closest competitor, as the group stands right now, for the No. 2 spot behind Real Madrid. Simple math, guys. And maybe something more than one point would help everybody forget about that stupid draw in Denmark.
Juventus are trying to claim three points at home, rather than having to travel all the way to Istanbul at such a busy time of the year schedule-wise. We know the home crowd will be buzzin' when the teams take the field because that's the only way Juventus Stadium knows how to do things. I love that place.
And there's that whole thing about Gala being a little bit of a wild card card right now. They could be equally as meh as they can be good. It's just one of those things where there just a mystery right now with a new manager taking over two days before a Champions League tie.
Courtesy of Ciro Immobile, Carlos Tevez's ankle resembled some kind of Halloween decoration meant to scare children rather than a body part of one of the best strikers around. Juventus waited little time saying that the 29-year-old Argentine would be a doubt for the Galatasaray game. Now we'll hear for two straight days "Will he play or won't he play?" throughout the Italian media. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?
I guess we'll have to wait for the squad list to be released to see whether or not Tevez is good to go or not.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
1. The health of Carlos Tevez.
And you thought it was over in the last section. Too bad, you get more Tevez talk! The extremely rash tackle from the former Juve youth product has put Juventus' best striker's status for tomorrow night is completely up in the air right now. Logic tells me "Eh, let him make sure he's fully fit and bring him back when his ankle isn't looking so gruesome." But the devil on my shoulder tells me "If he can play immediately after sustaining said injury, a couple days of rest won't really hurt him, right" It all depends on how the medical team thinks Tevez has recovered.
2. Who starts for Tevez if he can't go?
Which, of course, is a very good possibility. The smart money's on Fernando Llorente and Mirko Vucinic getting the start if Tevez isn't available from the opening whistle or at all. But Antonio Conte has been known to throw a curveball our way when it comes to his striker pairings every now and then. Could that mean Fabio Quagliarella, who score Juve's only goal in Denmark, may get a spot in the starting lineup? I don't know, but it's definitely an interesting choice awaiting Mister Conte.
3. The center-of-the-midfield conundrum.
So if Andrea Pirlo is coming back into the starting lineup after being rested in the Turin derby, that leaves three guys vying for two spots. Paul Pogba is playing as well as anybody in the squad right now, so that means he deserves to be one of the first names on the team sheet. Arturo Vidal is Arturo Vidal. And Claudio Marchisio has been effective since his return from injury. So who is Conte going to "bench" for Galatasaray? If there wasn't a striker issue to worry about, that'd be this Wednesday's million dollar question.
4. What kind of positive impact Roberto Mancini has — if any.
As of this preview being published, our old buddy Roberto Mancini has been Galatasaray boss for all of about 20 hours. That's not exactly a lot of time to install his tactics and implement his complete system. But that's the situation the Galatasaray squad currently finds itself in. It's certainly an interesting scenario and a little more added drama to an important Champions League fixture.
5. Containing Galatasaray's attacking talent.
I'm gonna go out on a limb here, but I think the strikers Juventus will be facing are a little bit better than those they went up against in the derby over the weekend. We saw last season what Burak Yilmaz is all about. We know what kind of pedigree Didier Drogba has in the Champions League from his time wearing blue with Chelsea. Throw Wesley Sneijder in there and you've got some talented folks leading the Galatasaray attack. That could mean Juventus' defense is in for a busy night. Or they can just do what they did against Torino and have Gigi Buffon stand around for 90-plus minutes.
My starting XI (3-5-2): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Pirlo, Pogba, Asamoah; Llorente, Vucinic
OFFICIAL KICKOFF TIME: 8:45 P.M. IN ITALY; 2:45 P.M. ON THE EAST COAST; 11:45 ON THE WEST COAST