Here are six words I've never typed in my 16 months writing for this blog: "Juventus is coming off a loss."
I don't know what to do. These new-found words are killing me. I'm just not used to this.
Okay, fine. I'll carry on.
Juventus begins the second round of Champions League group fixtures with only one objective: GOTTA WIN. That's the only thing that matters. Because of three draws in the first three group games, there's now nothing else that needs to be done
The situation is clear: Juventus needs to win out to leapfrog Chelsea in the Group E standings. That's not exactly a monumental task to ask, especially since the defending European champs have to face Shakhtar tomorrow. But, with Chelsea coming to Turin in a couple weeks and a huge trip to Ukraine lurking in the distance, now is the time to snap out of this Champions League funk and get some momentum going again.
I know I haven't said it in awhile, so here goes nothing: AVANTI!
The line of thinking is that after a team loses, it gets pissed off. So, if a team loses to its arch-rival, it would be even more pissed off, right? That's the hope. That's what everybody wants to see from Juventus tomorrow night when they take the field.
And even more motivation: How Juventus played the last time they faced the Danish champions. If that isn't enough reason to get up for this one and then go out and get three points, then I don't know what to say. The fixture list has been kind to Juve when it comes to who is scheduled back-to-back games in the Champions League.
It's the Champions League and Juventus has been doing a lot of not winning in Europe lately. That's probably gonna have to change as soon as possible, fellas. Just a piece of advice there for you.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
1. How Juventus starts. This is here for the sole reason of how they started last time Nordsjaelland was the opponents: TERRIBLY. Juve can't afford to have the Danish champs hanging around and risk there being any chance of a draw. Sure, a win is a win. But will anybody really feel comfortable if Juventus are playing mediocre and it's still tied 0-0 with not much time to be played? An early goal will do wonders to help Juve get three points. Although, the last time that happened it didn't really help in the grand scheme of things...
2. How Juventus finishes the game. You mention one, you're probably going to get the other. That's just how things go. And mainly since Juventus' second half against Inter wasn't very good at all, it's going to be interesting to see how things go the next time around. Up until Saturday's loss, Juve have been relatively strong when it comes to holding leads in the second half. But, with a loss in the rear view mirror now, it's going to be interesting to see how exactly the team responds.
Gee, where have I said that before? I should stop repeating myself in this preview.
3. The Mirko Effect. Do Juventus bring the mustached wonder back from his injury he suffered against Inter for a must-win Champions League contest and then sit him out over the weekend against Pescara? Or, do Juventus have Vucinic lay low and have him available against one of Serie A's newest teams?
4. Matri Watch 2012. Why? Because of this:
Alessio: Matri will start tomorrow night and will be partnered by Quagliarella or Giovinco #JuveNordsjaelland— JuventusFC (@juventusfc) November 6, 2012
So, we know one of the starting strikers, thus making point No. 3 somewhat meaningless at this point since we know Vucinic won't play from the opening whistle. It's another chance for Matri to try and show his potential as the striker shuffle continues. His dip in form is pretty well documented by now, so I won't say much more than that. But if he's struggling, don't be surprised if Angelo Alessio has a quick hook and goes to somebody else.
5. The Giovinco Effect. Man, this lil' fella sure gets people talking — and it was no different after the Inter loss. The doubters were out in full force on the Twitter machine. Some of the criticism was valid, some probably a bit over the top considering who Juventus had just lost to. But the fact still remains that Super Seba has yet to totally find his feet since returning in the summer. Some people's patience is wearing out, some are still keeping the faith in the Juve youth product. I, myself, like to think I'm in the second group. But there's no denying that if he wants to start more often than not for the immediate future, things are going to have to improve.
6. The home crowd. Not because they were so great the last time the Champions League came to Juventus Stadium, it's because they weren't. Things are supposed to be resolved between the ultras and the club, but who really knows what is really the case sometimes. All I know is that the stadio better be rocking for the last two home games of the group stage. If not, there will be a lot of questions to be asked.
My starting XI (3-5-2): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Caceres, Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah;
Quagliarella Matri, Giovinco
KICKOFF TIME: 8:45 P.M. IN EUROPE; 2:45 P.M. ON THE EAST COAST; 11:45 A.M. ON THE WEST COAST