It seems like we’ve been down this road one too many times before. Or maybe it’s 10 times too many, I’m not quite sure, but it’s not the first time, I do know that. We want to see what Juventus will do after a terrible performance — the latest coming in Florence that saw their lead atop the Serie A table be shrunk to one measly point.
Last Sunday wasn’t exactly how we envisioned Juventus starting the second half of the season. (Even though the number of games played told us it was still the first half.)
This Sunday brings Juventus back to a place where they’ve been untouchable for well over a calendar year now — home. And that’s where we’re hoping all of this “Can Juventus rebound after their latest crap showing against a formidable opponent?” talk brings us to once again.
We want Juventus to play well. We are dying for Juventus to play well. (Figuratively, not literally, of course.) We want Juventus to play well against Lazio during Sunday’s lunchtime kickoff in Turin. That’s easy. That’s the simple part of this equation.
What the end result will be is something that we’re all waiting to find out about.
Juventus is still leading Serie A and has a game in hand over its closest competition. But because of the craptastic loss to Fiorentina last weekend, the lead right now is at one point. One single point. One single solitary point. That means if Juve are to have a result that isn’t a win and Roma were to beat Cagliari later in the day on Sunday, then Serie A is going to have a new leader for the first time in a long time.
That’s what is at stake on Sunday at Juventus Stadium. Max Allegri and his band of bianconero-clad players can either bounce back — again — and get a win to try and right the ship. Or, they can continue their inconsistent ways and slip up against a Lazio that has plenty at stake in its own right as it sits in a European spot.
What fun could be had on a Sunday afternoon in Turin...
Y’all saw what happened against Fiorentina last weekend, didn’t you? It’s a good thing — and, what do you know, good news — that this next game is at Juventus Stadium. You know, the place where Juve have won what seems like a gazillion games in a row.
Y’all saw what happened against Fiorentina last weekend, didn’t you?
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
1. Will the real Juventus please stand up?
I talked about it in the post-game thread following the Fiorentina loss, and I feel like it bears repeating now that we’re six days out from said stupid, stupid result. It’s the fact that this Juventus team starts to look like it’s figuring things out, then it just stops with said process and then we’re seemingly back at the start of it all over again. We’ve seen this happen a few times this season. I don’t know about all of you folks, but it’s grown to become quite tiresome. Start and stop. Start and stop. Consistency is what Juventus has lacked this season. Unless you consider being inconsistent with your performances as something they’ve been consistent with, that is. It was the same type of deal in the first two months of last season, with the only difference this time around is that they’ve been able to pick up results through the first 19 league games despite their less-than-stellar form. Juventus need to find consistent performances, I don’t think anybody is denying that. But, at this point, with nearly 30 games in all competitions under their belts, are they just what they are right now?
2. Will the real Sami Khedira please stand up?
Juventus’ midfield isn’t what it once was in previous seasons under Allegri and Antonio Conte. I think that’s pretty much a given at this point. It’s not just the overall quality of the players involved, but also the characteristics of said players that Allegri has to choose from. For a good portion of the season, Khedira has been one of those midfielders trying to find the early-season form that he had back in August and September. It’s funny, really, because since the first two games of the season, Khedira has scored just one goal. Of course, it’s not all about goals and assists with how we measure a player’s performance. But at the same time, the Khedira we’re seeing now isn’t the same kind of Khedira we saw at the beginning of the season where he was one of Juventus’ best players. That’s pretty dang certain, isn’t it? I think it is.
3. Will the real Juventus defense please stand up?
I pointed one particular stat out in the comments section after the Fiorentina game and I think that some folks were pretty surprised by it. So here it is, for everybody to see if they have already:
It starts with the defense. They’ve allowed 16 goals through 19 league games. They allowed 20 all of last season.
That’s not very good. I mean, Juve could be allowing two goals per game like Pescara or Palermo are this season, but that’s not necessarily what we’re used to. Saying you have the best defense in Serie A is one thing, but Juventus hasn’t played like it. Maybe for small stretches, but at this time last season Gigi Buffon was in the middle of a league-record shutout streak that went all the way into February and March. That’s what we’ve come to expect from Juventus, not what we’re seeing right now. Juve have allowed goals that they didn’t before. They’re not necessarily giving up more scoring opportunities, but the opposition is now scoring goals in situations that haven’t in the past. Juventus having an unstable defense isn’t exactly something that a lot of us are used to. And if it continues like this, well, having a comfortable lead in Serie A might not exactly be something we’re seeing in the next couple of months, either.
4. Will the real Stephan Lichtsteiner please stand up?
A natural right back is available to Allegri once again. That’s the good part of it. As we know, Lichtsteiner has been far from his best this season. That’s the not-so-good part of it. For all we know, this could very well be Lichtsteiner’s final game against his former club in a Juventus uniform. Having just turned 33 years old and being linked with a potential exit for months, the possibility of Lichtsteiner leaving Juventus this summer is quite real. Very, very real. And maybe, just maybe, Lichtsteiner can play well in the second half of the season and help Juventus do awesome things if his time in biaconero is winding down. But he’s been off and on this season, to say the least. His defending hasn’t been all that great, his crossing as meh as it’s ever been. While Dani Alves has been getting a decent amount of criticism for how he’s played this season, it’s pretty safe to say that the same should go for Lichtsteiner. I miss the old Lichtsteiner, straight from the Go Lichtsteiner. (See what I did there?)
Or maybe Dani Alves, called up for the first time since his fibula injury two months ago, will play and I’ll just prove to have wasted everybody’s time — again — by talking about Lichtsteiner needing to play better.
MY STARTING LINEUP
Juventus XI (4-3-3): Gianluigi Buffon; Stephan Lichtsteiner, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Kwadwo Asamoah; Sami Khedira, Tomas Rincon, Miralem Pjanic; Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain, Marko Pjaca
Location: Juventus Stadium, Turin, Italy
Kick-off time: 12:30 p.m. local time in Italy; 11:30 a.m. in the United Kingdom; 6:30 a.m. on the East Coast; 3:30 a.m. on the West Coast
TV: RAI International, beIN SPORTS USA (United States); RAI International, beIN Sports Canada (Canada); BT Sport 1 (United Kingdom); Sky Supercalcio HD, PremiumSport HD, Sky Calcio 1 (Italy)
Online: beIN SPORTS CONNECT U.S.A., fuboTV (United States); fuboTV Canada, beIN SPORTS CONNECT Canada (Canada); BT Sport Live Streaming (United Kingdom); Sky GO Italia (Italy)
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