It was always going to be a rush for Giorgio Chiellini to get back to full fitness in time to be available for the second leg of Juventus’ Champions League quarterfinal against Ajax. It just so happened that a training field injury caused said injury, so it’s not like we could even try and play armchair doctor after seeing what happened.
But, just like the first leg against Ajax, Juve’s captain won’t be leading them out of the tunnel before the Champions League anthem plays.
Same goes for the guy who has been Juve’s main vice-captain this season.
Both Chiellini and striker Mario Mandzukic were the two notable omissions from Max Allegri’s squad list for Tuesday night’s showdown with Ajax at Allianz Stadium. As great as the news of midfielder Emre Can coming back is a boost to the squad, the fact that Chiellini — who was reportedly progressing in his recovery from last week’s injury — won’t be available is the same kind of “uh oh” moment that it was when the squad list for the first leg was announced.
The squad list for Tuesday’s second leg is as follows:
While Chiellini’s injury was something we knew about for over a week now, the fact that Mandzukic was at risk of missing the second leg of Juve’s tie with Ajax is something that has gone relatively unreported in the Italian press up until Allegri’s announcement during Monday’s pre-match press conference.
Speaking of said pre-match press conference, here is what Allegri said about the Mandzukic injury situation:
“Mandzukic has a problem with his knee and has struggled to train at 100% since the Milan match. These games will be better suited to players who are in their best condition, because they have to give absolutely everything.
“There was already a chance that Mandzukic wouldn’t play tomorrow night. I still need to decide who starts in attack, it could be Dybala or Kean or neither of them.”
In case you’re wondering, Allegri noted that if Dybala doesn’t play, then the captain’s armband will be handed over to Leonardo Bonucci. (I’m sure that will go over well.)
We know it will likely be Daniele Rugani stepping in for Chiellini just as it was in the first leg, but the decision needs to be made as to whether it’s Dybala or Kean getting the start. Based on form alone, I think it’s a pretty easy decision from the outside looking in, but this will probably be one of Allegri’s biggest single-player lineup calls of the season.
I guess we’ll find out in a little less than 24 hours of this post going live.