The overwhelming odds tell us that the starting lineup we will see in tonight’s Champions League group stage finale is not one that will be used all that much going forward in the second half of the 2019-20 season. That’s simply a product of Juventus already having first place in Group D locked up and the fact that Maurizio Sarri is without at least a couple of regular starters that we’ve become quite accustomed to seeing.
So, who’s ready for squad rotation?
Some of that is forced, with the likes of Rodrigo Bentancur injured and Matthijs de Ligt staying abck in Turin to rest. Some of it will likely be by Sarri’s choice, with some of the available players that have made the trip to face Bayer Leverkusen tonight at the BayArena carrying quite the load when it comes to minutes they’ve logged both recently and throughout the season as a whole.
Maybe we’ll get Gigi Buffon making his first Champions League appearance of the season.
Maybe we’ll get to see one of Merih Demiral or Daniele Rugani — or, wait for it, maybe even both! — get an incredibly rare start for the first time in weeks.
Maybe we’ll see Adrien Rabiot get some quality run since Sarri has very few options available to him in the center of the park.
No matter what, though, Juventus has nothing truly at stake other than a unbeaten record in the Champions League group stage and will be playing a Bayer Leverkusen side that has everything on the line if it wants to continue to play in Europe’s premier club competition.
Coming off its first loss of the season, this (likely) new-look starting lineup will try to recreate the kind of success Juventus had when it faced Bayer Leverkusen in Turin back in October, one of the Bianconeri’s best performances of the season. It was that 3-0 win where things were looking quite good for Sarri and Co., the kind of dominating showing that filled you with confidence and all kinds of warm and fuzzy feelings.
The performances haven’t been great in the weeks following Juve’s first Champions League group stage win of the season. The hope is that this team starts to turn a corner and Sarrismo will shows its face and some attractive football will once again be what draws us in to Juventus.
Maybe this is the start — even with a very different starting lineup than the one we saw against Lazio just a couple of days ago. I mean, they can’t play much worse ... right?
When: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019
Where: BayArena, Leverkusen, Germany
Official kickoff time: 9 p.m. local time in Germany, Italy and across Europe; 8 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 3 p.m. Eastern Time; 12 p.m. Pacific Time
Juventus starting XI (4-3-1-2): Buffon; Danilo, Demiral, Rugani, De Sciglio; Cuadrado, Pjanic, Rabiot; Bernardeschi; Higuain, Ronaldo
Juventus bench: Szczesny, Dybala, Alex Sandro, Matuidi, Bonucci, Muratore, Portanova
Bayer Leverkusen starting XI: Hradecky; L. Bender, Dragovic, S. Bender, Sinkgraven; Bellarabi, Demirbay, Aranguiz, Diaby; Havertz, Alario
Bayer Leverkusen bench: Ozcan, Retsos, Tah, Bailey, Baumgartlinger, Wendell, Volland
HOW TO WATCH
Television: TNT, Galavision (United States); Sky Sport Uno, Sky Calcio 2, NOW TV (Italy)
Online/mobile: Watch TNT, B/R Live, Univision NOW (United States);DAZN (Canada); BT Sport Extra (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.