If you thought Juventus had a crisis at the fullback position, then things have actually gotten worse now with not a single recognized player at that position in the squad for the visit of SPAL tomorrow.
The last remaining fit player at that position, Alex Sandro, has been granted a leave of absence after the sudden demise of his grandmother back in Brazil and media is rife with rumours that Maurizio Sarri could either revert to a back three, or else use Juan Cuadrado as a rightback (like he has said he will) and midfielder Blaise Matuidi as the leftback (uhh, what?!).
“A back three is hardly a prospect for me, except when managing a small piece of the game, because the way we defend makes it too risky.
“Daniele Rugani can become important, but not at full-back. He’ll get opportunities and it’ll be up to him to exploit them in the right way.”
Sarri also provided an update on two players who were left out of the Champions League squad list -
“Emre Can was very upset about being cut from the list, even if his reaction in training seems to be of a good standard.
“Mario Mandzukic has agreed to stay on the sidelines with the club, then we’ll see when the Qatari transfer window closes.”
The manager has been forced to show some formational versatility up top, but is confident he can keep everyone happy.
“I think Cristiano Ronaldo’s great and can play with anyone. Gonzalo Higuain’s a lad with great technical ability.
“Paulo Dybala is technically excellent and Ronaldo is a champion. Therefore, I think they can pair up and, in certain phases of the game, all three can play together.”
New summer signing Adrien Rabiot has been rumoured to be unhappy about his lack of playing time and Sarri sought to calm him.
“I’ve said that he can do much more and I’m happy with how he’s played so far. Rabiot hadn’t played in 2019 so he needs to be patient, but already in the second half he did a bit better.
“We must help him, and he must get used to our football and style of play. If you go behind against two teams in good health, it’s never easy to come back.”
Juve haven’t looked like eight-times-in-a-row Scudetto champions, and Sarri knows it.
“We can do more, but going behind made two difficult games. The first thing to avoid is going behind.
“We’ll see if, first of all, we can improve our approach to matches. I say this from direct experience because SPAL were written off when they came to Napoli two years ago, and it was one of our most difficult matches that season.”
Veteran defender and one third of the famed ‘BBC’ defensive trio Andrea Barzagli is back in the Juve fold, returns to the Bianconeri in a new first-team technical role.
“I talked to Andrea in June. He had other commitments back then and asked if he could give me an answer in September, and now he’s here.
“We’re delighted that he’s joined our staff, now he must see the work we do. His first task will be to take care of the players who have defensive shortcomings, such as Cuadrado who can still grow a lot as a full-back.”
Vespa could not have asked for a better tutor to teach him the defensive dark arts.