If it weren’t for the World Cup, our summer would have been a lot less exciting. That’s even with Juventus jumping into the fray, proving Tuttosport to be right and signing Cristiano Ronaldo when many didn’t even think it was humanly possible.
But, as of a few hours from now, our days without Juventus games to dissect and argue about will be no more.
Juventus made their way over to the United States on Monday, had their first training session in the New York area on Tuesday and will take the field against Bayern Munich today, which would be Wednesday. It will be the start of a busy trip to the United States, which isn’t that surprising seeing as the Serie A season starts in less than a month.
In case you need a reminder, here is Juventus’ summer schedule in the United States:
- Wednesday, July 25: Juventus vs. Bayern Munich, at Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa., 7 p.m. local time
- Saturday, July 28: Juventus vs. Benfica, at Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J., 1 p.m. local time
- Wednesday, Aug. 1: Juventus vs. MLS All-Stars, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Ga., 7:30 p.m. local time
- Saturday, Aug. 4: Juventus vs. Real Madrid, at FedEx Field, Washington, D.C., 6 p.m. local time
That’s four games in less than two weeks with a solid bit of travel in between all of that. (Although nothing out of the ordinary as compared to what the schedule would be like when there’s both domestic and European games going on within the same seven- or eight-day stretch.)
Juventus come to the states with far from a full-strength squad due to World Cup obligations and post-tournament vacations. I mean, you don’t want to make Mario Mandzukic angry and only have him rest for a few days after helping Croatia reach its first-ever World Cup final earlier this month.
But even with a less-than full-strength squad available to Max Allegri, it’s not like he will be fielding a bunch of primavera prospects from the opening whistle.
Of course, the main objective will be to prepare for the start of the season next month. We also don’t want any kind of injuries to worry about because we know that there’s bound to be something go wrong in the early goings of the regular season.
Even though there’s no Cristiano Ronaldo, no Paulo Dybala, no Mandzukic, no Juan Cuadrado and no Douglas Costa, there’s still plenty to watch for as Juve take the field against Bayern Munich and three opponents in the United States.
Here are a few of those...
If Claudio Marchisio is indeed staying this summer, what kind of condition is he in?
Marchisio showed up to preseason training uncharacteristically clean shaven and rocking a smile on his face. And that’s before Juventus signed Cristiano Ronaldo!
The rumors regarding Marchisio’s future have come and gone and come back again and then petered off into the distance for pretty much the last five or six months. Where things stand now is really anybody’s guess, but from the outside it appears that maybe, just maybe, we won’t have to be writing an officially official post about Marchisio leaving just yet.
It’s late-July and Juventus are about to play four games in the span of just under two weeks, so it will be interesting to see just how Max Allegri handles Marchisio’s playing time in the United States. Seeing as there’s no Blaise Matuidi, no Rodrigo Bentancur and Sami Khedira has all of one day of training prior to Juve’s friendly against Bayern Munich, it’d be logical to see Marchisio starting against the German giants.
After that is really a mystery.
Post-knee injury Marchisio isn’t the same as pre-knee injury Marchisio, but to see him get on some sort of form again would be a huge boost to a Juventus midfield that is going to be very much a work in progress during the early months of the season.
Mattia Caldara is healthy and raring to go
The last time Mattia Caldara was on the field and we were talking about Juventus at the same time, he was in the midst of a season where his back just couldn’t get right for extended periods of time. The nagging back injury limited Caldara to just 24 Serie A appearances with Atalanta, which is far from the kind of playing time he got during his breakout season two years ago.
It’s hard to peg what Caldara’s role is going to be with Juventus this season. I guess a lot of that depends on which central defenders not named Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli are actually on the roster when the transfer window comes to a close next month.
We’ve all been waiting for the day where Caldara lines up alongside Daniele Rugani to complete Juve’s ultra-young central defense partnership. Transfer rumors aside, the U.S. tour could very well be our chance to see that Caldara-Rugani pairing happen. (As long as Rugani doesn’t suddenly fly off to London or anything that...)
And now that Caldara — one of the highest-rated young defenders Italy has — is healthy, then it’s time to sit back and watch just how good he can become in a Juve shirt.
Federico Bernardeschi is healthy and raring to go
Juventus comes to the United States without a recognized striker that at least has a chance to be on Juve’s roster come the start of the season. No Ronaldo, no Dybala, no Higuain, no Mandzukic, no Cuadrado, no Costa, no Marko Pjaca.
Does that mean we could see Federico Bernardeschi ... false 9?
It’s something that was floated out there a couple days ago. And seeing as it’s the preseason with a very incomplete roster, experimenting isn’t completely out of the question. But it’s not necessarily a guarantee knowing that Juve have somebody like Andrea Favalli, their young prima punta prospect, on the U.S. tour roster as well.
The biggest thing for Bernardeschi, as was the case with Caldara, is to get back into shape after missing so much time last season due to injury. Bernardeschi simply needs to get the kind of minutes he didn’t last season because the potential is there for something special.
Obviously an appearance or two in the International Champions Cup isn’t going to determine where Bernardeschi falls in Allegri’s pecking order. But knowing that so many of the guys he will be competing for playing time are either sitting on beaches or making their way to Italy in a couple of days, this is simply the chance for Fede to shake off the rust.
Let’s just hope that he doesn’t miss Spike and Wendy too much while he’s in America.
The first impression made by Joao Cancelo and Emre Can
Prior to Ronaldo showing up, the two names above were the summer’s two biggest signings. One had the big-time transfer fee — the most Juventus has ever paid for a fullback — and the other is a high-upside midfielder who arrived on a free transfer that took months and months and months to finish.
They each arrive with different kinds of expectations. Cancelo is Juve’s right back of the future, but probably also the present knowing how much it cost to bring him to Turin. Can is most likely Juventus’ lone midfield signing this summer, which could place some unrealistic expectations on a player who never truly grew into his potential during his time at Liverpool.
As much as we joke about the preseason and the actual meaningfulness of the games Juve will be playing the next couple of weeks, these next few fixtures are important for both Can and Cancelo since they’re the new kids on the block. The good thing is that they’ve been training with Allegri from the very start of the preseason activities, so it’s not like they will be running around like a couple of chickens with their heads cut off.
Now let’s just hope that their appearances in the United States don’t make us facepalm. (Because these games will obviously determine how their Juventus careers are going to go, right? I AM KIDDING.)
Will any of the youngsters on the trip catch our eye?
The thing about preseason tours is that you pretty much know from the get-go that your club’s manager is going to go deep into his bench each and every game that is played.
Max Allegri isn’t going to trot out the likes of Giorgio Chiellini and Miralem Pjanic against Bayern Munich and play them a full 90. It’s July and full on match conditioning isn’t there yet and we shouldn’t expect it to be. Allegri always talk about building from the beginning of the season to the late months of winter, and you have to think that it’s kinda the same way when preparing in preseason training.
That means the youngsters on the trip — be it players who will likely go out on loan come the return to Italy or the primavera kids — will get some run in the second half of each game.
Moise Kean is on international duty with Italy’s Under-19 team at the Euros, so there goes the No. 1-ranked youngster that we’d all like to see. The likes of Luca Clemenza or Andrea Favilli, even though they might not be on the roster come the start of the Serie A season, are both on the trip to the United States. There are other primavera products as well.
We’re bound to see a lot of youngsters come the early goings of the second half of games — especially in the Bayern and Benfica fixtures since they’re the first time up on the schedule.
There always seem to be one or two youngsters that catch our eyes during the preseason tour. If that’s the case again this summer, let’s just hope they’re more than just a two-week wonder like is usually the case.