The last time we saw Juventus playing two weeks ago, they were on their way to showing what it’s like when everything’s clicking as well as what it’s like when everything is falling apart all within the span of 90 minutes of football. The wild and completely unpredictable 4-3 win over Napoli two Saturdays ago at Allianz Stadium still has me shaking my head when I think about it mainly because it’s still hard to completely wrap your head around EVERYTHING that happened over the course of that game.
The thing is, though, that game gave us a side of Juventus we desperately want to see ... and then one where we all will be left throwing things across the living room if it shows its ugly face once again.
Now, with their first-year manager 100 percent back after a bout with pneumonia last month, Juventus head to Fiorentina to begin the first truly busy portion of the 2019-20 season, with a Champions League group stage opener against Atlético Madrid looming on the horizon a couple of days from now.
However, against a Fiorentina side that can count how few league wins they have recorded over the 9 1⁄2 months with just one hand, Juventus will be expected to be more like the team we saw in the first 60 minutes against Napoli rather than the one we saw in the final half-hour.
That’s what we’ll be waiting to see happen.
Sarri said at his pre-match press conference on Friday that Juve “waited too long, and we managed some phases with superficiality,” against Napoli two Saturdays ago. “Besides, we’re not at the top physically yet,” he continued. I’m guessing that the final 30 minutes after Juve went up 3-0 and then saw that three-goal lead go up in smoke is what Sarri means when he talks about managing some phases with “superficiality.” To be looking that good and then suddenly, in a very meltdown-like fashion,
When you compare the two very different sides of Juventus, it’s pretty obvious which one those of us who see things through black and white glasses want to see. The first 60 minutes of the Napoli match had everybody buzzing with what this team could look like when it really starts to settle into Sarri’s system. (Remember, it’s only been about two months once they take the field at the Franchi this weekend.)
I don’t know which side we will see.
But I do know this: I’ve seen Juventus cough up a second-half lead at the Franchi once before in recent memory. And after that game — as well as what we saw two weeks ago — I don’t really feel like seeing all of that nonsense transpire once again. I’m pretty sure nobody does. Well, at least those of us who won’t be wearing purple come Saturday afternoon.
- The big news coming out of Sarri’s first pre-match press conference of the Serie A season: Sarri will be managing an official Juventus game for the first time on Saturday.
- After missing the Parma and Napoli fixtures, Aaron Ramsey has been called up for the first time this season. The general sense from the Italian media is that he won’t be starting, though.
- Emre Can, after being extremely critical of the club after he wasn’t included in Juve’s Champions League squad list for the group stage, has been called up for Saturdays trip to Florence.
- Mattia De Sciglio has not recovered in time to be available following his injury in the first half of the win over Napoli two weeks ago.
- The long-term injury absentees are pretty well established at this point.
- I miss Giorgio Chiellini.
- The one noticeable player not called up (non-injury related): Mario Mandzukic.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
Oh, what an interesting full Juventus debut did Matthijs de Ligt have two weeks ago. And, yeah, because of the eventful night that Juventus’ big summer signing had, it makes total sense as to why he’s here.
Why de Ligt is listed here for the second consecutive game is easy to figure out. But the reason as to why he’s listed here for the second consecutive game is incredibly different.
And that’s because of what he did — or, some of the time, didn’t do — in the first game.
There were plenty of opinions flying about de Ligt after his debut performance that went from very good to disastrous in the span of 20 or 25 minutes. Some of them were logical. Some of them were so hot that they’d burn your skin to the touch almost instantaneously. But it was also the kind of showing that would cause a bunch of overreaction from some corners of the football world.
By all accounts, de Ligt’s international break was about as drama free as it could have possibly been. Tuttosport heralded earlier in the week that de Ligt went off to international duty and has regained the confidence and leadership ability that we all know we can have. (Like he suddenly lost it and couldn’t locate it?)
Confidence rediscovered or just the ability to quickly put a bad game behind him, the shock of Chiellini’s injury and de Ligt quickly stepping into a full-time starting role isn’t new anymore. And with some big fixtures coming up over the course of this next four-week stretch before the October international break, having de Ligt be the de Ligt we know he can be as well as developing a rapport with Leonardo Bonucci is going to be so crucial to Juventus’ success both in the immediate and long-term future this season.
Obviously one game is not going to define de Ligt’s tenure as a Juventus player. But the sooner we can talk in post-game threads or match recaps about how awesome Juve’s new handsome Dutch hero was in the most recent game, the better. So, basically, if de Ligt wants to keep Federico Chiesa or somebody else in wearing purple in his pocket Saturday night, that sure would be a good place to start.
When: Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019
Where: Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence, Italy
Official kickoff time: 3 p.m. local time in Italy and across Europe; 2 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 9 a.m. Eastern Time; 6 a.m. Pacific Time
HOW TO WATCH
Television: RAI Italia America (United States); TLN, RAI Italia America (Canada); Sky Calcio 1, Sky Supercalcio HD, Sky Sport Serie A (Italy)
Online/mobile: ESPN+ (United States); DAZN (Canada); 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.