Coming out of the international break, Juventus was looking a 23-day stretch where they were set to play seven times. We are two games into that stretch, one that has seen Juve play not very well at all and then get themselves a solid win in Ukraine to open up the Champions League. It is one where, just like before the international break started up, we’re going to learn so much more about this Juventus team with each passing game regardless of it’s a win, loss or draw.
And when you’ve got a manager who has never managed before, the more you get to know in a short period of time, the better, right?
But we also knew this about the current three-week stretch: As much as there were some important Champions League fixtures arriving, the domestic schedule wasn’t going to be the daunting task it looks like it could be during the winter months.
Prime example: Juventus’ next three domestic opponents that are far from what you would consider Scudetto contenders. And while the league table might not mean all that much four games into the season, Juve knows that the early stages of the Serie A schedule is nothing close to a gauntlet.
Also true: Juventus won’t have to play away from Turin until the first day of November, as Hellas Verona makes to trip to Allianz Stadium on Sunday night. Hellas Verona is in Turin now. Barcelona will be in Turin a few days from now. It’s set up for Andrea Pirlo and his Juventus squad, one that is still working out the kinks when it comes to how their first-year manager wants to play, to potentially get on a nice little run before the games get a little more important in November and December to close out the calendar year.
What we’ve seen from Juventus in their last two league games — and, no, don’t get cute and say that they won the first of those two 3-0 over Napoli because I will smack you — is a team that really is still trying to figure things out. That doesn’t mean Pirlo is doing a bad job because he obviously isn’t. But, remember, we’re still just barely two months into the experiment that is Pirlo is Juventus manager. That isn’t much time at all, and it’s even more of the whirlwind of a time period when you consider that there was barely a preseason for him to work with his new team.
So, basically, it’s on-the-job training for both the manager and players themselves.
Will Hellas Verona be the toughest team Juve faces over the next couple of weeks? No.
Will they be better than the team that Juve just faced in Ukraine a couple of days ago? Probably not.
But Hellas Verona provides Pirlo the opportunity to do some final tinkering, experiment or whatever you want to call it in the game before what is easily the biggest game of the young season a couple of days from now. Juve will have to be better in that game than they were in their last game and probably in this next game as well. As much as we’ve seen Barcelona be a little erratic this season, the same could be said about Juventus from time to time as well.
We know that Juventus will have to be better than their previous two Serie A matches if they want to get back on the winning trail and go into the showdown with Barcelona feeling good about things. They can’t look ahead because we know what kind of trouble that has led to in the past. We saw them drop points to a league opponent they had no business doing such things against. And you can probably apply that same line of thinking again this weekend.
Unless Juventus go ahead and win — which would be nice.
- Federico Chiesa, as you remember, is suspended after being sent off last weekend against Crotone. At least he’ll be rested for when Barcelona comes to town next week, right?
- Weston McKennie, as of Friday night, is longer infected with COVID-19. That’s good.
- The same can’t be said for Cristiano Ronaldo, who still hasn’t tested negative and will not be available for the visit from Hellas Verona this weekend.
- At his pre-match press conference, Pirlo said that Matthijs de Ligt is getting closer and closer to being ready to go after offseason shoulder surgery. This is good. At this point, Juve are just waiting for the orthopedist to give de Ligt the green light, according to Pirlo.
- Alex Sandro is still injured.
- Giorgio Chiellini is injured again.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
Throw all of those Italian storylines into my veins just so I can dropkick them like a Wojciech Szczesny outlet pass to try and start a counterattack. We are not here for the nonsense.
We are here to hopefully see the return to the starting lineup of the prodigal son with the boyish face and the million-dollar smile. I mean, just look at the picture below — he can make a ball float in the air simply by looking at it. That’s power, folks. Rare, rare power.
Paulo Dybala’s 2020-21 season has had a lot of people talking. And, as we know, much of that talk has nothing to do with what he’s done on the field simply because he hasn’t been on the field all that much at all if you don’t consider training sessions at Continassa.
Then we got those five magical words from Andrea Pirlo during his pre-match press conference Saturday afternoon.
“Tomorrow, Paulo Dybala will play.”
Dybala’s return to the starting lineup is here. You knew it was only a matter of time before it actually happened. But, with how tough it’s been to really gauge just how quickly he will be worked into the team after his recovery from injury (and a stomach bug), when Dybala would be returning to the starting lineup was a little bit of a guessing game. With Ronaldo out due to COVID-19 and no other actual strikers available outside of Alvaro Morata, it’s now made things a little easier for Pirlo to basically go with a Dybala-Morata front pairing and that’s that.
And that Morata-Dybala pairing is going to be the biggest thing we will get to see Sunday night. There is nothing else. It is those two players, once looked at as the potential young and impressive Juventus attack of the future back in 2015 and 2016 now back together again. You’ve got a confident Morata who has scored three goals in his last two games in all competitions. (And, as we know, it could have easily been a goal or two more than what he’s actually scored.) Then there’s Dybala, who will be under the spotlight no matter who he was pairing with up front since this will be his first start of the still-new season.
Who knows if Dybala will be able to play 65 or 70 minutes.
Who knows just how sharp he will be knowing he hasn’t played much at all since late July.
But, when it comes to Dybala, be sure to expect the unexpected because when he’s on and he’s feeling good about it, he’s capable of some absolute magic with that left foot of his.
When: Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020
Where: Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy
Official kickoff time: 8:45 p.m. local time in Italy and across Europe; 7:45 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 3:45 p.m. Eastern Time; 12:45 p.m. Pacific Time
HOW TO WATCH
Television: RAI Italia North America (United States); RAI Italia North America, TLN (Canada); FreeSports TV UK (United Kingdom); Sky Sport Serie A, Sky Sport Uno (Italy)
Online/mobile: ESPN+ (United States); DAZN (Canada); LiveScore App (United Kingdom); 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.