For three Serie A games we've watched Juventus struggle to pick up any kind of consistent play. And because of it, the direct correlation between the way they've played and the amount of points they have — all of one, by the way — is pretty clear as it can be.
In that sense, this isn't just a big game because it's the first game of the Champions League group stage. It's a big game because it's a way for Juventus to try and get its season back on track. And what better way to try and do that on the European stage against a team many folks are fawning over these days? RIGHT?!
There is the motivation to try and right the wrongs of the first three weeks of the season, sure, but there's also the fact that in an incredibly tough group like Juve are in, stumbling out of the blocks could spell serious trouble down the road. One loss probably won't kill their hopes of making the knockout round, but a rough showing in Manchester will certainly up the amount of pressure on this team that obviously has lofty goals to begin with.
No matter what, though, it's becoming awfully clear that as patient as some of us want to be, it's time for Juventus to start looking like the team we want them to be. Maybe not the complete product right now, but one that can string some passes together without turning it over in a frustrating kind of fashion. That sure would be nice, methinks.
Date and Time: Tuesday, September 15, 8:45 p.m. in Italy, 7:45 p.m. in the United Kingdom, 2:45 p.m. on the East Coast, 11:45 a.m. on the West Coast
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England
Projected Juventus starting lineup (3-5-2): Gianluigi Buffon; Martin Caceres, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini; Stephan Lichtsteiner, Mario Lemina, Hernanes, Paul Pogba, Patrice Evra; Mario Mandzukic, Álvaro Morata (via Tuttosport and Gazzetta dello Sport)
Players to watch: Paul Pogba, Mario Lemina, Hernanes, Álvaro Morata
TV listings: Fox Sports 2, Fox Deportes (United States); PremiumSport HD (Italy); BT Sport Europe (United Kingdom); TSN1 (Canada)
Online streaming: Fox Soccer 2GO, Fox Sports Go (United States)