As the summer got going and the news of Andrea Pirlo trading in black and white stripes for Major League Soccer became a reality, another fact also became true. No, it's not that Simone Padoin would be getting more playing, as I'm sure many of you might be fearing. It had everything to do with the torch being passed in the Juventus midfield from a Italian legend to Juventus' homegrown stalwart.
However, outside all of 45 minutes this season, Juventus' midfield has been devoid of Claudio Marchisio's presence.
That's 45 minutes out of a possible 630, in case you were wondering about all of that math stuff. Go ahead and throw in 180 or so minutes in the Champions League and you can pretty much figure out that Marchisio's absence has been a big one. And a noticeable one. Oh, such a noticeable one. (I've missed you quite a bit, Claudio, in case you haven't realized that by now.)
The good thing that comes with all of this preceding doom and gloom regarding everybody's favorite Turin native missing so much time in the first two months of the season? Well, it's the fact that Marchisio is expected to start in the center of Juventus' midfield — no matter what the formation Max Allegri will actually go with — when they make the trip to the San Siro this weekend to face Inter in the Derby d'Italia.
Ah, now that's something we can be happy about.
This is the second part of the two-step process that will get Juventus' midfield looking like we all thought it would once we figured out how the roster was going to be constructed in the dog days of August. Sami Khedira is back and has brought his own unique set of characteristics to the Juve midfield, and the results — as well as the German's individual performances — are pretty evident despite the small sample size.
The addition of Marchisio back into the Juventus starting lineup is why we're here. And the addition of Marchisio is what will be the final piece of the projected midfield coming back into the fold.
We know how crucial Marchisio was in a season where Juventus made it all the way to the Champions League final. Sure, I've said in the past that it's unfair to compare that Juventus to this current one because of all the changes that have occurred, but that doesn't necessarily apply in this case. That's because we're talking about Marchisio, a player whose importance has likely only increased considering what other midfielders are playing their football elsewhere these days.
Marchisio was fantastic last season. We pretty much all recognized that. There's not really another way to say it without quoting stat upon stat upon fancy stat. He out-Pirlo'd Andrea Pirlo when holding down the center of the midfield. That's not exactly something to scoff at, regardless of how hit-and-miss Pirlo was in his final Juventus season. It's more to do with the fact that Marchisio's adaptation to a holding midfield role has gone as smooth as it possibly could have. And now that he's Juventus' most important midfielder — yes, there's no denying it at this point — is back in the fold, everything seems to be settling in just as we envisioned it in the final few weeks of the summer.
Yes, the Khedira-Marchisio-Pogba center midfield is about to be a thing. Not just a figment of our football-driven imaginations, either. An officially official kind of thing. That mock lineup we all drew up in July is about to actually happen, you guys. Seriously, soon.
Marchisio will never be the high-profile, headline-grabbing player who lights up vine videos on a weekly basis like they're damn Christmas trees. Unless you're talking about his tactical awareness, Marchisio's playing style isn't build around the spectacular, rather more about doing just about everything effectively. But his importance to this Juventus team is undeniable. And for that we are thankful that he's now truly 100 percent healthy at long last.