After the 180 or so minutes of Juventus watching, I can safely say this: Thank goodness that this team has already advanced to the Champions League Round of 16. With the way those previous 180 or so minutes have gone, who really knows what these final two group stage games would be like if Juventus hadn’t already secured advancement into the round of 16.
The word “crisis” is being thrown around in the Italian press when it comes to Juventus these days. And whether you agree with it or not, the shine on the project that Andrea Pirlo is trying to build isn’t exactly glimmering with hope and optimism at the moment.
What Juventus has right in front of them is the same kind of deal that they had the last time they had a midweek Champions League fixture a week ago — a matchup against a team that they’ve already beaten. It’s not Ferencvaros this time, instead Dynamo Kyiv has made the trip all the way from Ukraine to Turin. The second Ferencvaros fixture had a spot in the round of 16 riding on it, while this one has the possibility of still finishing atop of Group G as a potential carrot to dangle in front of Pirlo’s squad even though Barcelona is three points ahead and has a much better goal differential to boot.
We don’t know how Juventus will respond to what happened over the weekend. Honestly, it’s become a complete guessing game at this point with how up and down they’ve been. Trying to get a true gauge or sense of where this team is truly at is a difficult task. We know they’re not playing well, and that means the reports about why things are the way they are right now are starting to fly.
What we do know for sure is that after beating Cagliari with relative ease a week and a half ago, the feeling around Juventus is much, much different. After saying that he wants to see a different Juventus coming out of the international break, Andrea Pirlo has seen the same kind of Juventus the last 180 minutes or so during the Ferancvaros win and the 1-1 draw with Benevento over the weekend.
At his pre-match press conference, Pirlo said the following about recent results:
I would have preferred a little more consistency, but it’s normal that it takes a little more time to achieve it. The players know what they must and want to do. When you win everything is fine, when you don’t, problems arise that may not even exist. We are working well to improve.
To steal a line from previous iterations of Juventus writing on this blog from this byline: This team is consistent ... at being inconsistent. We see flashes of some good things happening. It was less than two weeks ago that Juve started the international break in fine fashion against Cagliari and we were in a pretty good mood about it. Then the next two times they took the field, things went in the absolute tank and the frustrations of late 2020 resembled those of the pre- and post-lockdown vibes of that Juventus squad.
For all we know, Juve could come out and beat Dynamo Kyiv again just like they did in Ukraine. That would be nice, and might take a little bit of the heat off Pirlo.
For now, though, a win against a team Juventus should beat and has already beaten would suffice. Wins with style might be too much to ask these days, but a win or two might not be. Or maybe it is. I don’t know. I just don’t want a repeat of four days ago — and I’m sure I’m not alone in any of that.
- Giorgio Chiellini and Merih Demiral returned to full training on Monday, which is obviously a huge boost for Andrea Pirlo as compared to what the first few games out of the international break have been like when it comes to defensive depth.
- That first bullet point was written prior to Andrea Pirlo’s pre-match press conference when he said that Chiellini is now dealing with a muscle injury — gee, who would have ever guessed it?! — in his right thigh during Tuesday’s training session. He is expected to miss Wednesday’s game against Dynamo Kyiv and the Derby della Mole at the very least.
- Not back at training is Gigi Buffon, which means Carlo Pinsoglio will almost certainly again serve as the backup to Wojciech Szczesny on Wednesday night.
- Pirlo announced at his pre-match press conference that Juan Cuadrado and Danilo will be given some rest and not start Wednesday’s game against Dynamo Kyiv.
- Pirlo also essentially ruled out the possibility of a Paulo Dybala-Alvaro Morata-Cristiano Ronaldo trident in attack against Dynamo. “Alvaro Morata will probably play, whilst Dybala will prepare for the Turin Derby on Saturday,” Pirlo said. (Morata is suspended for Saturday’s derby after picking up a red card for dissent following the final whistle against Benevento.)
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
With Chiellini hurt and Danilo being rested, that means Demiral will likely start on the left side of Pirlo’s back three. (Probably. And hopefully because I wanna nail this.) And with Alex Sandro rested over the weekend and Cuadrado also being rested by Pirlo, that means one of the two wingback positions is up for grabs and the options are aplenty.
Including both Fedes on the roster. But we will pay attention to just one of them.
Federico Chiea’s first few months as a Juventus player have been an interesting ride. And that’s well before you even consider that the dude got sent off in his first appearance as a Juventus player. There’s been some good, there’s been some not very good, there’s been something in between all of that.
But let’s just go ahead and concentrate on the good for a second because we need all the good vibes we can get around here.
What has arguably been the best part of Chiesa’s game so far? His ability to create chances for his teammates and propensity to send in a pretty good cross when he gets the chance to do so. I mean, he’s tied for the team lead in assists with Alvaro Morata and has played a little over a third of the minutes as compared to Juve’s No. 9. (It’s a the second-highest assist total through the first two months of the Serie A season.)
That’s good. Chiesa has provided width even though he’s been played on a much less natural left wingback position. It’s not ideal in terms of positioning, but he’s made it work.
And it just so happens that the team that Juventus is playing next is the team that one of Chiesa’s best games came in. With Cuadrado out, the chance to play in his natural position — at least, on the right wing, maybe not as a wingback, per se — is there for the taking.
We knew the good would come with the frustrating, the productivity would come with inconsistent and questionable decision making. That was a given when Juve signed Chiesa a couple of months ago. Who knows if it will all click and Chiesa will truly live up to the potential many folks around the game in Italy believe he has. But, for now, living with the bad comes along with the good.
Chiesa will have targets to aim for in this game. With Cristiano Ronaldo rested and ready to go again and Morata in the kind of form where he’s a threat to score whenever he’s around the 18-yard box these days, the targets are there. Now all Chiesa has to do is hit ‘em.
When: Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020
Where: Allianz Stadium, Turin, 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; 12 p.m. Pacific Time
HOW TO WATCH
Television: Sky Sport Uno, Sky Sport 252 (Italy)
Online/mobile: CBS All Access, TUDN.com, TUDNxtra, TUDN App (United States); DAZN (Canada); BTSport.com, BT Sport 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.