Excuse me, but this deserves caps lock: WE HAVE A GAME TO TALK ABOUT SOON. AN ACTUAL GAME. THANK THE HIGH HEAVENS.
Now that I've got that out of my system, we can continue on with what will be the first match preview of the 2015-16 season. (Although since this is a friendly and doesn't count in the official standings, does this mean this is an official preview? You see, these are the things that truly matter. That hard-hitting pieces of information we desire here at BWRAO on a daily basis.)
There won't be a trip to the Westfalenstadion for this meeting with Borussia Dortmund. There won't be a former Juventus primavera striker taking slight jabs at his former team in the press over the course of the build-up. None of that. Juventus' first preseason friendly, which is being played at the AFG Arena in Switzerland, is nothing close to what was on the line the last time Juventus and Dortmund played against one another back in the Champions League round of 16.
Both teams are different. Dortmund will be rolling out a new head coach, Juventus will be rolling out a starting lineup that could very well feature a large portion of the summer signings brought in over the last six or eight weeks. This won't look like the Juventus squad that faced Dortmund back on March — to a certain extent.
This will be the first look Max Allegri has of his new-look team in a game situation. The almost-full squad has only been training together for about a week, with the vast majority of the Juventus 2015-16 roster arriving from their vast array of summer vacations last weekend. It's the first step on what we hope is a season that was just as special as the last one.
(And on the bright side, at least the middle of July has come and gone with Juventus having to replace their manager. So there's an improvement over last season right there.)
Let's just list three things Juventus should accomplish in Saturday's friendly against the Yellow Submarine.
- Stay healthy.
- Get your work in.
- NOBODY GET HURT.
Sounds good, right? Yeah, I think so, too. Just go ahead an tell yourself "It's only a friendly and the result doesn't really matter. It's only a friendly and the result doesn't really matter. It's only a friendly and the result doesn't really matter..."
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
1. What formation Allegri goes with.
Okay, so it's a friendly and the final result doesn't matter in comparison to the team performance and players getting back into true game shape, that's what we know is certain. But we've seen Juventus' group of stikers change so much since the last time they were on the field, it's impossible to not be curious about what the team is going to look like in the first friendly of the season. Remember that period of the season when it seemed like Juventus bounced between two or three formations? Yeah, well go do a Twitter search right now and you'll probably find about 100 different would-be managers as to what Allegri should go with when the games actually do count. The good thing about this time of year? Allegri can experiment a little bit, which should be fun for all of us — at least in theory.
2. Where Paulo Dybala is deployed.
Here's one thing completely connected to the thing we just talked about. I bring this whole thing because if you were to see any of the predicted lineups the Italian media created throughout the summer, a decent number of them had Paulo Dybala playing as a trequartista, not as a striker like he was during his pre-Juventus days. That could just be a whole load of crap, which is definitely possible when it comes to some of Italy's publications during transfer season. And if there's a signing of a certain Julian Draxler this summer, then there's your new No. 10 right there, not Dybala. But said No. 10 hasn't arrived in Turin yet and been shown his fancy new Juventus jersey, which means there's bullet point No. 1 that will determine what exactly Allegri has in stone for Juventus' €32 million man.
3. The new guys not named Paulo Dybala.
Roster turnover is natural. But to see over half of Juventus' strikers be new — and pretty damn good, too — isn't exactly something we've seen happen the last few summers. But Mario Mandzukic is here and wearing David Trezeguet's old number. Sami Khedira will almost certainly step into Arturo Vidal's spot in the midfield. And let us not forget the likes of Simone Zaza, Daniele Rugani (more on him in a bit) and Gigi Buffon's new understudy, Neto. You would like to think that all of the newbies will playing into Allegri's plans in some way or another before the 90 minutes are up against Dortmund. And when you think about somebody like Khedira who didn't play much at all last season, these preseason minutes are going to be huge for the future.
4. Daniele Rugani's playing time.
Excuse me while I geek out for a bit and re-watch Rugani's press conference from earlier in the week for the 10th time.
Now, we can think about Rugani making his Juventus debut at some point against Borussia Dortmund today. Rugani arrives with plenty of hope attached to his 20-year-old shoulders. And it's not like he's done a lot to really disprove the notion that he's one of the best prospects to wear a Juventus jersey in quite some time. Who really knows what Rugani's role will be in a group of center backs full of experience and class, but it's undoubtedly going to be fun to watch this kid develop around his fellow Italian internationals. It all starts Saturday against Dortmund, too.
My starting XI (4-3-2-1): Buffon; Cáceres, Bonucci, Chiellini, Evra; Khedira, Marchisio, Pogba; Dybala, Morata; Mandzukic