I, for one, am tired of talking about what happened against Sevilla on Wednesday night in Juventus’ Champions League opener. That may sound somewhat weird considering how I am opening this match preview, but so it goes and I guess we’ll just have to learn how to deal with it. Wednesday’s scoreless draw happened, the result and performance was utterly frustrating and now we shall move on from it. That’s how it’s going to be.
Or at least that’s how I would like it to be. (And I will also stop making this post all about me.)
Juventus has no to let those feelings of a few days ago linger. Not with who’s next on the schedule. This isn’t a situation where Juve is just strolling into a matchup with a bottom dweller or mid-table side that is just going to be looking for any semblance of a positive result to pick up some points.
/knocking sound at the door/
“Check the Serie A table, idiot...”
/door closes abruptly/
Oh, so you’re telling me Inter are currently sitting 10th and there’s already heat in the Italian press when it comes to Frank de Boer’s job status? Ah, my mistake, people.
The first edition of the Derby d’Italia certainly does have Juventus and Inter entering the game with different kind of league standings. Juventus spent big this summer and has started the season a perfect 3 for 3 against Serie A opposition. Inter spent big as well, but has all of one win through three games to show for it and currently sit behind Bologna and Chievo in the standings.
Juventus, coming off the scoreless draw against Sevilla, are obviously out to right the wrongs of what was a tough night at the offense to open European competition despite picking up a point. And against an Inter team that seems to just be wobbling like a boxer in the late rounds right out of the gate, it’s quite possible that Juve can be the latest club to extend the Nerazzurri’s early-season struggles. I would like to think that something a lot of Juventinos have an eye or two on enjoying take place.
At this point, I think it’s safe to say that Inter are limping into the San Siro Saturday night. How they leave it could be in even worse kind of shape while in turn watching their arch-rivals continue their perfect start to the quest for a sixth straight league title. Juventus extending Inter’s woes another week — what sounds better than that?
Sounds pretty good to me, Max. Unless Juventus lose, of course.
There’s already nine spots in the table between Juventus and Inter. That’s wonderful.
I miss Claudio Marchisio. I know you all do, too.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
1. It’s not a Champions League game, so it’s back to the Serie A groove?
I swear I’m not bitter. Nope, not one bit.
But it’s a legitimate talking point. Juventus’ best two games this season have been league games. Arguably their best showing came all of a week ago in the 3-0 first-half dismantling of shorthanded yet always tricky Sassuolo. You see Juventus’ flow and consistent production in league and wonder why it can’t be like that in Europe, too. (Well, it’s better competition, so maybe that has something to do with it...) Either way, Juventus’ early-season performances in league have done nothing to hinder the notion that they’re the top dogs in Serie A by a considerable margin. They could very well be looking up at Napoli by the time Saturday’s fixture list is over, but a win pretty much makes things as they were entering the weekend — Juventus ahead by two points and the rest chasing the black-and-white-colored leaders.
2. Where’s Miralem Pjanic playing?
Or, better yet, is Pjanic playing? Okay, I’ll stop, because that’s just silly.
We went through the drama of Pjanic not playing from the start against Sevilla. That sure was fun, wasn’t it? Now, the general feeling is that the Bosnian midfield maestro will be in the starting lineup once again after he made his first official start for the club in the Sassuolo win last weekend. There’s no reason not to think that Pjanic won’t be part of Allegri’s starting lineup against Inter in the derby. Although, we all probably said the same thing entering Wednesday’s Champions League opener, too, so I guess we all have our wrong moments every now and then. But there’s no doubting that Juventus’ best run of play against the defending Europa League champions came when Pjanic was on the field. And we all know how good he looked in the Sassuolo win. So I think it’s pretty safe to say that Pjanic, no matter if he’s fielded as Juve’s holding midfielder or on the left of Mario Lemina, makes Juventus a better. Who would have thought that, right? A really good player making Juventus a much better side than it already is. That’s the high-quality analysis you’ll only get here at BWRAO.
3. Can Paulo Dybala break his goal-scoring duck this season?
I confess, this is something that usually resulted in Dybala scoring a goal and then me talking about how awesome it is that he just so happened to do so after I mentioned him in the match preview. And yes, with Dybala not scoring a goal yet this season, I’m hoping that the magic of the match preview mention from the previous campaign carries over to the current one.
Now, this doesn’t mean that Dybala has been struggling this season. With all of the hacking and fouling that he’s had to deal with, young Paulo has started the season off pretty well. He obviously isn’t scoring goals basically every game like he was in Juve’s preseason friendlies, sure, but as he’s proven during his year-plus in a Juventus jersey, once the first goal is recorded, the flood gates seem to open. So, in a rivalry matchup where Dybala has yet to record a goal in, wouldn’t it be lovely if La Joya was the one who decided things and showed us all that lovely smile of his once more?
Work your magic BWRAO match preview vibes and get Paulo on the scoresheet!
4. Can Juventus’ defense prevent Mauro Icardi from doing what he’s done a fair number of times in the Derby d’Italia?
Inter have scored three league goals this season. Mr. Icardi has all three of those goals. If there has ever been a situation where Inter have proven to be Icardi-dependant, then the previous sentence may have to be exactly the case. But there’s no doubting that Icardi has been a massive thorn in the side of Juventus over the years since signing with Inter. Throw into the fact that de Boer rested a lot of his best players, including Icardi, during Thursday’s 2-0 loss to Hapoel Beer Sheva in the Europa League, that the Argentinian striker is going to be rested and raring to go.
Of course, Juventus have a pretty good way to try and combat that. It’s pretty familiar to us now — Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini. It seemed to work pretty well in the two Juventus-Inter meetings in Serie A last season where the Italian champions picked up a pair of clean sheets against their arch-rivals. The second leg of the Coppa Italia was a little bit different, but we don’t need to talk about any of that.
I’ll just leave you all with this: When you look at Inter, who’s the No. 1 player you want to try and stop? That’s simple — it’s Mauro Icardi.
MY STARTING LINEUP
Juventus XI (3-5-2): Gianluigi Buffon; Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini; Stephan Lichtsteiner, Sami Khedira, Mario Lemina, Miralem Pjanic, Alex Sandro; Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala
Location: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan, Italy
Kick-off time: 6 p.m. local time in Italy; 5 p.m. in England; 12 noon on the East Coast; 9 a.m. on the West Coast
TV: beIN SPORTS USA, RAI International (United States); beIN Sports Canada, RAI International (Canada); BT Sport 2 (United Kingdom); Sky Calcio 1, Sky Supercalcio HD, Sky Sport 1 HD Italia (Italy)
Online: beIN SPORTS CONNECT U.S.A., fuboTV (United States); beIN SPORTS CONNECT Canada, fuboTV Canada (Canada); BT Sport Live Streaming (United Kingdom); SKY Go Italia (Italy)
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