So, how are things going, everybody?
Have you had a good week? Is life pretty good for you all?
(My week, for the record, has been completely terrible, but we won’t get into that.)
We are now seven days out from Juventus’ latest flubbing of a game in the first five weeks of the 2019 calendar year. Go back a few more weeks and this team has left a lot to be desired — whether it’s the overall team performance, the actual result that takes place or both. There are plenty of folks counting down the days until Juventus meet Atletico Madrid in the Champions League Round of 16 while also monitoring if Max Allegri’s men can do more right than wrong between now and then.
The way this team is playing as this key stretch at the beginning of the year rolls on, it’s pretty much anybody’s guess as to which Good Juventus or Bad Juventus will show up on a game-by-game basis. Maybe Juve actually looks like a competent team like they did for a good part of their game against Parma last weekend. Or maybe the team that was making bad mistakes on its way to blowing a couple of two-goal leads against that same Parma team shows its head once again.
Either way, there will be a whole lot more importance placed on Juventus’ trip to the Mapei Stadium to face Sassuolo than there probably would be if they were just cruising along and picking up three points while holding firm with their nine-point lead.
Maybe if this were happening in August in September it would be easier to just throw away as a minor blip on the radar and that would be that. But, as history likes to tell us and as the handy narrative goes, this is the time of this season where Allegri’s teams of the past have started to truly hit their stride. The way things are going for Juventus, even taking into account that they’re down both of their starting central defenders and all, this could very well be the gut-check moment that happened a few years back after a trip to Sassuolo.
And with a week and a half to go before the trip to the Wanda Metropolitano, there is the heightened sense of Juventus turning this around quickly.
Not just winning, but showing signs of a complete performance rather than just a good half before taking the foot off the gas and letting a lesser opponent hang around.
That sure would be nice — especially with the Champions League’s return fast approaching.
When: Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019
Where: Mapei Stadium, Sassuolo, Italy
Official kickoff time: 6 p.m. local time in Italy and around Europe; 5 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 12 p.m. Eastern Time; 9 a.m. Pacific Time
Juventus starting XI (4-3-3): Szczesny; De Sciglio, Rugani, Caceres, Alex Sandro; Khedira, Pjanic, Matuidi; Bernardeschi, Mandzukic, Cristiano Ronaldo
Juventus bench: Pinsoglio, Perin, Dybala, Barzagli, Kean, Cancelo, Can, Bentancur, Spinazzola. Allenatore: Allegri
Sassuolo starting XI (4-3-2-1): Consigli; Lirola, Magnani, Peluso, Rogerio; Magnanelli, Sensi, Locatelli; Berardi, Djuricic; Babacar
Sassuolo bench: Satalino, Demiral, Magnanelli, Lemos, Matri, Scamacca, Odgaard, Boga, Ferrari, Di Francesco, Adjapong, Brignola. Allenatore: De Zerbi
HOW TO WATCH
Television: ESPN2, ESPN Deportes (United States); TLN (Canada); Premier Sports 1 (United Kingdom); Sky Calcio 1, Sky Sport Serie A, Sky Supercalcio HD (Italy)
Online/mobile: WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes+ (United States); DAZN (Canada); Eleven Sports 2 UK (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.