The beauty of the Serie A schedule is that after one measly game, we get to wait another two weeks to wait around for the next round of things. And by "the beauty," I mean "the completely annoying" part of how the Serie A schedule is put together. But here we are, ready for Juventus again. We've missed you, you crazy old gal.
The two-week wait is over and done with. Well, there's still a handful of hours to go before kickoff actually takes place, but the vast majority of the wait is out of the way. We can get back to watching Juventus again, friends. At least until the next international break arrives.
For now, Juventus is back in our lives. With it comes the first of what will be a busy three weeks before the next international breaks arrives and bores us all to death. The first in what will be a whirlwind 24-day period with games every 72 hours or so is tomorrow night's battle of the bianconeri between Juventus and Udinese at Juventus Stadium.
There will be games against Atlético Madrid, Roma and Milan along the way. But first, Juventus must face get past the ever-annoying Udinese side that will likely feature somebody on their roster sign on loan with an option to buy next summer. (Hey, don't blame me, it's just the history Beppe Marotta has setup for himself.)
Mad Max's first game as Juventus manager at Juventus Stadium. Juventus' first game at Juventus Stadium this season. A night of firsts. So how about three points on the first game out of the international break? Yeah, I like that idea.
International break ... over. Serie A ... back. Life ... good.
Injuries, injuries, and more injuries. It seems like everything Juventus-related the past few days has been involving important players getting injured.
There's Arturo Vidal. Same goes for Andrea Barzagli (who is back training but isn't expected to start). Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Pirlo, and Luca Marrone, too. It's been a busy time in the Juventus training room lately — and it's not because players are getting routine treatment before and after practice.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
1. Can the Juventus that went into the international break be the same one that comes out of it?
It was always interesting to see how Juventus under Antonio Conte dealt with everything that comes with international breaks. Sometimes they picked up right where they left off a few weeks prior, other times they looked like a bunch of players who didn't have much of a break at all due to their respective national team obligations. It was pretty easy to figure out that Juve played well in their season opener two weeks ago against Chievo. What's not so easy to figure out is how Juventus, with all of their players traveling during the international break, will do after such a long break after the first game of the season.
2. Who takes the place of Arturo Vidal?
With one man absent from the starting lineup for the immediate future, another must replace him. Simple science, really. Who that man that steps into the starting lineup for Vidal is still a guessing game at this point. Allegri mentioned Roberto Pereyra possibly featuring at his pre-match press conference, so the versatile Argentinian could be in line to make his first career Juventus start against his former team. Another summer signing, Romulo, is probably an option as well. Neither one will bring the same kind of traits Vidal will, obviously, but they're both more than capable of filling in. And if this summer's transfer market was all about adding depth, now is the time to see it with all the injuries going on at once.
3. The health and effectiveness of Carlos Tévez.
One day we think Carlitos is in doubt for this weekend and Tuesday night's Champions League opener, the next we breathe a sigh of relief when we here Tévez say he's good to go for Udinese. Who woulda thought that one simple Twitter post would see just about every Juventini's worries fly right out the window. The obvious question is now this: How will Tévez play? Being the absolute bulldog Tévez is, he's going to bust his ass no matter how healthy he truly is. He's done it before last season, and he's obviously going to do it again. Tévez says he's good to go, Allegri says Tévez is good to go, so I guess there's no reason to doubt now that Tévez is good to go.
4. How Patrice Evra does in his Juventus debut.
Max Allegri didn't wait around until the starting lineups were announced to say who his starting left (wing)back was going to be tomorrow night. "Evra will play," was a definitive answer from Juve's first-year manager. Seeing as everybody is expecting Juve to roll out a three-man backline and Allegri basically confirmed it Friday, I'll just go ahead and assume Evra's first official playing time as a Juventus player will come as a left wingback. It's the first chance for the 33-year-old Frenchman to silence those who thought his signing wasn't all that productive. Let's just hope the man we talk about next doesn't give him fits all game...
#Allegri: "Evra's career speaks for itself, he's capable of playing either in a back four or on the left-hand side in a midfield five."— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) September 12, 2014
5. Can Juventus keep Antonio Di Natale (relatively) quiet?
I love Toto. No, not the band, the footballer. The only time I don't love watching Antonio Di Natale play is when it's against Juventus because he has the ability to be such a damn pest. How did he mark his first game of the 2014-15 campaign? With a goal, and then another. So much for all that talk of him retiring and then coming back and all that jazz. The guy may be a month away from his 37th birthday, but he's still got plenty of gas left in the tank. And you have to believe that trying to keep Di Natale at bay is one of the things Allegri is focusing on entering tomorrow night's showdown.
My starting XI (3-5-2): Buffon; Cáceres, Bonucci, Ogbonna; Lichtsteiner, Pereyra, Marchisio, Pogba, Evra; Tévez, Llorente
OFFICIAL KICKOFF TIME: 8:45 P.M. IN ITALY; 2:45 P.M. ON THE EAST COAST; 11:45 A.M. ON THE WEST COAST
- Juventus manager Max Allegri hopes Arturo Vidal will be available next weekend
- Juventus striker Carlos Tévez says he will be ready for Saturday's game against Udinese
- Carlos Tévez reportedly the latest Juventus player to get injured
- Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal reportedly out 20 days with thigh injury
- Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal returned from international duty with a thigh injury