Juventus playing Brescia is a matchup we haven’t seen since the days of Alessandro Del Piero being captain of Italy’s most historic club. The thing is, though, Juve was far from the Juve we know now at the time. It was, for many longtime readers of this blog, what we like to call the Dark Ages, with seventh-place finishes actually being something we saw happen — twice in as many years.
The times were not good.
Not good at all.
Little did we know at the time that Antonio Conte was going to come back to the club where he was formerly captain and lay the foundation for this near-decade-long run of domestic dominance. Hell, we really didn’t know when Juve would even break out of the cycle they were in when disappointment was a consistent state of mind and Juve’s roster was a complete mess. (And that’s probably putting it lightly.)
This also happened the last time Juventus and Brescia played one another ...
That is the one and only Jorge “El Malaka” Martinez on the field at the Stadio Olimpico in Turin trying to do something that actually looks like a positive football play against a couple of Brescia defenders. I don’t know how this above sequence ended, but I’m guessing that it was some kind of turnover where Martinez ended up looking over at Gigi Delneri with some kind of disappointed look on his face.
Why bring up Jorge Martinez now?
Well, as Juventus get set to make its first trip to Brescia in nearly a decade on Tuesday night, it might as well serve as a reminder to see just how far this club has come in less than a decade. The titles, the quality of talent now compared to then. the fact that Juve have made two of the biggest signings in the game the last two summers. All of it was simply a minor thought during the Dark Ages, and a run like Juve currently is on basically a pipe dream at that point.
Yet, here we are. And as Juve prepare to face Brescia — and possibly be part of Mario Balotelli’s long-awaited return to Serie A — we don’t sit here fearing that our favorite team in black and white is going to risk a mid-table finish. Juventus, entering the first midweek Serie A fixture of the season, is basically where it’s been for the better part of the last decade — leading (or amongst the leaders of) the pack.
Juventus trails Inter Milan by two points entering the fifth round of fixtures, as the Antonio Conte honeymoon period has apparently gotten over the whole transfer drama of the relationship. (It also helps that Inter’s schedule to begin the season has been about as much of a cake walk as any of the title contenders.) Seeing as it’s late-September and looking at the Serie A table isn’t exactly something that we should be doing or obsessing over — plus, you know, all of the other things to worry about when it comes to Juventus right now — having Maurizio Sarri’s team make progress should be priority No. 1 these days.
That will come with some bumps in the road, obviously. That’s what happened in Florence. That’s what happened with blowing leads against Napoli and Atlético Madrid. There’s bound to be more bad that comes along with the good of playing a more attractive brand of football with a coach like Sarri.
For now, though, we gotta hope that the bad doesn’t outweigh the good and that Juventus continues to pick up three points along the way. That’s a decent plan, right?
- Cristiano Ronaldo has not been called up for the trip to Brescia, with Sarri citing a bit of a thigh strain picked up in training on Sunday as the reason why he wasn’t going to be called up.
- In case you were wondering, Gonzalo Higuain didn’t suffer a broken nose over the weekend against Hellas Verona. (No mention as to whether or not the giant ice pack on Higuain’s head had anything to do with a concussion, though.)
- Mattia De Sciglio is still injured.
- Douglas Costa is still injured.
- Giorgio Chiellini is still injured.
- Mario Mandzukic, who might not be going to Qatar after all, hasn’t been called up again.
- The last time Juventus won a game at Brescia? The likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Fabio Cannavaro, Pavel Nedved and David Trezeguet were all in the starting lineup. Good times.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
Here I am, with all of my preview basically written. My player of choice was Federico Bernardeschi, and about 350 words about Fede’s season to date and how facing Brescia is an opportunity to him to try and turn things around to try and get some kind of early-season form like he had this time last year.
And then I logged onto Twitter and saw the lineup that some of the Italian press was predicting Sarri will use Tuesday night.
#BresciaJuve, oggi ore 21. Formazioni GdS-CdS-TS: "Sarà 4-3-1-2 con Dybala, Higuain in attacco e uno tra Ramsey e Cuadrado a supporto. Pjanic, Matuidi e Khedira a centrocampo" #rvs https://t.co/I41qQz7eA5 pic.twitter.com/wSI05NjN3P— VecchiaSignora.com (@forumJuventus) September 24, 2019
As you can see, there’s no Bernardeschi there. So, we’re calling an audible after reading the tweet above. We’re going from Italian winger who owns a pair of bulldogs named Spike and Wendy and used to have some blonde hair up until a handful of days ago for a Welshman who, obviously, needs to learn the language of the country where he now plays.
Yep, this guy ...
I think it’s safe to say that Aaron Ramsey’s first start in a Juventus shirt was a rather productive one. There was the goal, there were the runs forward into the box, there was the pretty surprising rapport with Paulo Dybala and just about everything else he did. In his 60 minutes of game, it was pretty easy to see that Ramsey was one of the best players on the field no matter what jersey they were wearing.
So, now the question is: What’s next?
Obviously the absence of Ronaldo and the fact that Bernardeschi is struggling with his early-season form means that a little bit of tinkering is possibly in order. And the fact that Ramsey has played an advanced role in the midfield during his days with Arsenal means that playing him as a trequartista also makes Sarri using a 4-3-1-2 formation possible.
If that’s the case, it’s showing some tactical — and personnel — flexibility from a guy like Sarri who has a reputation for being rather opposite of that notion.
But, when it comes to Ramsey, build off the impressive debut is going to be key — both when it comes to his confidence, his ability to work his way into a starting lineup where he is expected to be a key component and just his overall match fitness. And you have to imagine that when everything does start to truly click for Ramsey during his first season with Juventus (and Sarri), the competition for playing time in midfield is going to only become that much more interesting of a talking point.
(Sidenote: Poor, Adrien Rabiot.)
At the very least, if Ramsey is going to be deployed as an attacking midfielder, there’s the chance that he’s basically going up against much-hyped Brescia teenager Sandro Tonali for much of the match — which, at least from one guy’s point of view, sounds like a pretty good individual matchup.
When: Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019
Where: Stadio Mario Rigamonti, Brescia, Italy
Official kickoff time: 9 p.m. local time in Italy and across Europe; 8 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 3 p.m. Eastern Time; High Noon Pacific Time
HOW TO WATCH
Television: TLN (Canada); Premier Sports 1 (United Kingdom); DAZN1 (Italy)
Online/mobile: ESPN+ (United States); DAZN (Canada); Premier Player HD (United Kingdom); DAZN (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.