The thing about trying to get a read on things after one week of a new season is that, a good portion of the time, you’re trying to not get carried away with small sample sizes. Like, for instance, Giorgio Chiellini isn’t going to be Juventus’ leading goal scorer for the entire season, but he is right now after one weekend worth of games.
The same can be said for a lot of the aspects of Juventus’ 1-0 season-opening win over Parma. Or a lot of other factors when it comes to what happened around Serie A. (Unless you’re a Roma fan, that is, because Roma just did classic Roma things on Sunday.)
There were plenty of opinions thrown out there about what lineup Juve trotted out against Parma on Saturday night. Some were logical. Some ... weren’t. As is basically unofficial protocol in the hours after a Juventus game, I usually go and peruse what some of the other non-BWRAO folks are saying about what just went down earlier in the day. Here’s one of the things (and let’s just see how far into the video you get until you also want to plug your fingers into your ears).
Yes, that is nearly five minutes of hot takery regarding Matthijs de Ligt NOT starting Juventus’ season opener. I remind you, Juve has played one official game this season. That’s it. It’s not like we’re sitting here in October or November and we’ve got a situation like we saw with Moise Kean a year ago where de Ligt is basically just being brought onto the field to kill a minute or two before added time during a soon-to-be win.
But as much as the incessant back and forth in the video above will annoy plenty, it also made a question pop into my head: When will Maurizio Sarri really turn some starting spots over to Juventus’ big three summer signings (de Ligt, Adrian Rabiot, Aaron Ramsey)?
Obviously, there’s probably some truth to the fact that Juve were without their first-year manager — who is still out with pneumonia — and probably aided on the side of caution, which meant a very Max Allegri-like starting lineup against Parma. I don’t think anybody really believes that Juventus spending so much money on annual salaries for Ramsey — albeit, he’s still injured and not called up for international duty next week, by the way — and Rabiot just to have them sit and watch Blaise Matuidi and Sami Khedira from their respective spots on the bench more often than not.
Same goes for de Ligt, who is certainly going to be taking advantage of Chiellini’s injury issues and expected less-than heavy workload throughout the 2019-20 season. He is the young buck currently playing behind a pair of veterans, and that means there will be plenty of opportunities to be had because you simply don’t spend €75 million worth of transfer fees to have one of the best young players on the planet to sit behind a pair of veterans.
But, when does that transition happen — for both de Ligt and everybody else?
I’m not exactly convinced that Sarri — or whoever is actually making the final call on Juventus’ starting lineups right now — is one to throw a brand new signing into a heated rivalry game with a whole lot of emotion behind it like Napoli’s visit to Turin this weekend will be. Or, better yet, I guess I would be rather surprised if somebody like de Ligt or even Rabiot — the only new signing to see the field at the Tardini this past weekend — gets their first official Juventus start in a game like is about to take place Saturday night at Allianz Stadium.
So, if that actually happens, that leaves after the international break for us to see somebody like de Ligt, Rabiot or Ramsey (who didn’t train Wednesday due to back pain) — hell, throw Merih Demiral into the mix, too — make their first career start in bianconero. And, based on how the schedule will look coming out of the international break, it’s a logical place for some squad rotation to start to happen so that the current crop of starters aren’t burnt out come the start of November.
Maybe that has been the plan all along. Or maybe Sarri getting sick and unable to be around the club as much as he normally would be has thrown a little bit of a wrench into the proceedings when it comes to working the new signings in. We all know that Sarri’s system has historically been one where teams truly take months to even come close to mastering it no matter how comfortable they feel in that given moment.
But until it actually happens and we see the names of de Ligt, Rabiot and Ramsey on the starting lineup sheet for the first time, we are going to be left to wait. And as time goes on, we won’t able to use the “Oh, it’s just the first game or two...” kind of line anymore. It’s also safe to say that patience won’t exactly be close to plentiful the longer de Ligt is on the bench, either.