The schedule these days is as fast as it is frequent and quirky. Play game one day, rest a couple of days, then play again. Serie A or Champions League, we know there’s not going to be many days off in a row simply because of so many fixtures being fit into a certain amount of time.
Not only does Juventus have three games spanning over the next eight days before the next black hole of boredom otherwise known as an international break arrives, but all of those games have one thing in common. No, they’re not all league games. Juventus’ next three games, two in Serie A and the middle one in the Champions League against Dinamo Zagreb, are all taking place away from the beautiful Juventus Stadium.
What did Max Allegri have to say about the final three games before we are forced to sit through another two weeks worth of an international break? This:
“A tough week lies ahead for us. Taking in three away matches in a row is not ideal; not only are we not playing in front of our own fans but also doing a lot of travelling in between. We must not leave Palermo without three points; a win is crucial after Wednesday and our defeat last weekend.”
I mean, if Max says that collecting three points against Palermo is the only acceptable kind of result, who am I to disagree with him? Fact is, we shouldn’t be.
Juventus making the trip to Palermo on Saturday is the first of those pre-international break away fixtures. Our boys in bianconero are back on the top of the Serie A table after Napoli kept the seat warm for a couple of days thanks to the 4-0 midweek win over man, myth, legend Simone Padoin and Cagliari. It could have been a much, much larger margin of victory in all likelihood if not for the existence of Marco Storari and some of those incredibly wonderful saves he made in goal.
That’s the past now. We can look toward the future!
The most important thing for Juventus, especially considering what Palermo has or hasn’t done this season, is to build off what they did three days earlier and show that they’re more of the team we saw against Cagliari rather than the one from the loss to Inter Milan. I personally liked the Cagliari win more than the Derby d’Italia loss, but that’s just me. I’m just a guy on the internet with some opinions about things.
We are still awaiting to see which Juventus team shows up come Saturday night at the Renzo Barbera, but we do know they’re going to be away from home. At least we know that, so I guess that’s nice...
Hopefully Juventus can go into this international break in the same kind of fashion as they did the last one. And if they’ve been able to pick up some kind of travel miles deal on top of the probably quality accommodations they will get along the way.
With their 4-0 win over Cagliari on Wednesday night, Juventus proved to us that they don’t, in fact, suck at this whole footballing thing! The world isn’t caving in just yet!
As you know, every article on here needs a photo. In looking through photos for this match preview, I logically searched “Juventus Palermo” and looked at the results. Some of the first results were seeing Claudio Marchisio writhing in pain in the moments after he injured his knee back in April. That made me miss Claudio.
There’s your bad news for the day.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
1. Who sits, who plays with another Champions League game on Tuesday.
This is the No. 1 thing that pops into my head whenever there’s a big game and/or a Champions League fixture as the next thing up on the schedule. The thing that makes this interesting is that Allegri already did some squad rotation in the win over Cagliari on Wednesday rather than waiting until the game before the Champions League fixture to do some squad rotation. Does that mean we will see the same lineup against Palermo that we will see against Dinamo Zagreb? I don’t think so.
Allegri announced at his pre-match press conference on Friday that Giorgio Chiellini will be rested, so we know that’s at least one regular starter that won’t be taking part in the trip to Sicily. Who else follows suit, if anybody at all, is still left to be seen. Regardless of that, Allegri does seem set on squad rotation of some sort. Now we just wait until the starting lineups are released an hour before kickoff on Saturday to see just how much squad rotation there will actually be.
2. Play or rest Paulo Dybala against Palermo?
Out of all the candidates who need rest, Dybala is probably on the top of that list. He’s obviously not firing on all cylinders right now and as we saw as he made his way across the field toward the Juventus bench as he was subbed off against Cagliari, he’s just looking a tad bit frustrated. Maybe Allegri’s line of thinking is to keep playing him because eventually the goals will start to be scored and then they’ll become more and more frequent as the confidence begins to gain some steam. Or, the better alternative could be to just let Dybala sit against his former club — something that a certain Maurizio Zamparini is probably all in favor of after joking about it earlier in the week.
I guess with Champions League football on the horizon, maybe we should be paying attention to who may be potentially starting alongside Dybala than him starting in the first place. I don’t know. Sometimes I have a hunch about the lineup, while other times I have absolutely no idea what Allegri has in store for us.
Or maybe we can get Sami Khedira playing as a striker? I mean, he did feel the need to show us that he’s been working on his finishing skills...
3. How will the center of the midfield be constructed?
Of course, this is very much dependent on what Allegri wants to do with resting players for the Champions League game on Tuesday night in Croatia. However, unlike in other positions, it’s not exactly like Allegri has a lot of options to choose from. For all we know, Allegri could choose to give Khedira another game off to make sure he’s 100 percent fit for Zagreb and just role with a midfield that has the same kind of look to it that it did in Wednesday’s win over Cagliari. Considering that Palermo was struggling to do much of anything right before their midweek win over Atalanta, having somebody like Hernanes pull the strings in the center of the midfield wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. If Juventus can beat Cagliari with some subs scattered into the lineup against Cagliari, the same can certainly be said against a team like Palermo that will probably have five more managerial changes before the season comes to a close in late May.
4. Will Juan Cuadrado get a shot on the right wing?
In one form or another we’ve seen all of Juventus’ summer signings — except for one. That one would be Cuadrado, who has technically appeared in more games for his native country, Colombia, than he has for either club he has played for since preseason preparations for the 2016-17 season got underway in early July. Wednesday could have provided Cuadrado the perfect chance to get some of his first playing time of the season since re-signing with Juventus on transfer deadline day. Instead, Cuadrado was granted a brief leave of absence for personal reasons. He’s back now, and while Allegri says that Cuadrado won’t be playing from the start, there’s got to be some kind of role for the Colombian speedster to play. We’ve got to see him with his new No. 7 jersey at some point soon, right?
MY STARTING LINEUP
Juventus XI (3-5-2): Gianluigi Buffon; Daniele Rugani, Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli; Stephan Lichtsteiner, Sami Khedira, Mario Lemina, Miralem Pjanic, Alex Sandro; Marko Pjaca, Mario Mandzukic
Location: Stadio Renzo Barbera, Palermo, 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); Sky Supercalcio HD, Sky Calcio 1 (Italy)
Online: beIN SPORTS CONNECT U.S.A., fuboTV (United State); beIN SPORTS CONNECT Canada, fuboTV Canada (Canada); BT Sport Live Streaming (United Kingdom); SKY Go Italia (Italy)
Other live viewing options can be found here, and as always, you can also follow along with us live and all the stupid things we say on Twitter. If you haven't already, join the community on Black & White & Read All Over, and join in the discussion below.
And don't forget to like our new page on Facebook, either!