Here we are again.
It’s a place we’ve been visiting way too many times over the last couple of years. But, unfortunately, it is a place that we’ve become so, so, so, so familiar with over that same time period. I don’t like it, and neither do you. But because Juventus has regressed, on the whole, to the kind of team that does this type of thing, we’re left to visit this place all too often.
Here we are again, folks. Ready to see what Juventus can do after a loss to an opponent in which it shouldn’t have lost to Wednesday night.
So now as Juventus makes the trip over to Verona to face a Hellas Verona who is being managed by a guy who was a Juventus assistant coach all of a few months ago in Igor Tudor, Max Allegri is in the kind of spot that he, Andrea Pirlo and Maurizio Sarri have seen all too often over the last two-plus seasons. Juve is about to play its last game in October, but because of the loss to Sassuolo midweek, the distance between Allegri’s squad and the top four is just that much greater. It wasn’t just that Juventus lost Wednesday night, but over the course of Serie A’s 10th round of games, all six of the teams that are currently ahead of the Bianconeri in the standings won.
It’s the final weekend of October, but Juventus is an astonishing 13 points behind Napoli and Milan in the standings. Thirteen, folks. That’s ... a lot. And it’s still October.
It’s all too familiar. It’s all too familiar, indeed.
Allegri has continued to walk the tightrope between having a full squad one game and then having important players not available the next. He’s had Paulo Dybala return in recent weeks, but now Federico Chiesa will miss the trip to Verona because of muscle fatigue. That is only added to the list of injuries, but combine it with the handful of players who look just flat-out dead tired right now and things aren’t exactly as simple lineup-wise as you might want them to be.
Plus, you know, there’s the whole dropping points thing again.
Juve’s nine-game unbeaten run came to an end midweek thanks to Sassuolo’s last-second goal that happened on a counterattack that was just begging to happen. It was a run where things got better at times, but still left plenty of room for improvement. The loss to Sassuolo was something that never should have happened — especially with how little the visitors actually did against a Juventus defense that saw its scoreless streak end last weekend at the San Siro.
So now, like so many times before, Juventus tries to right the ship — again — after a loss to an extremely inferior squad like Sassuolo currently is. The thing is, they’re playing another team that’s the definition of a mid-table squad. Hellas Verona is, literally, in the middle of the table entering the weekend. Out of 20 teams in Italy’s top flight, Verona currently sits 10th. That’s the exact middle, folks. They’ve been better since Tudor took over — and probably had this fixture circled the second he took over at the Bentegodi — and are all of a week removed from putting a hurting on Sarri’s Lazio squad. (Which, by the way, is back in front of Juventus after beating Fiorentina earlier in the week.)
Maybe Juventus can actually come out an look like a functional team again rather than one that is risking another loss against a mid-table side. Hopefully they don’t look anything like the last time these two teams played in Verona. If that latter option happens, then a long week is going to become even that much worse. And, as a result, we could very well see that gap between Juve and the teams at the top of the table become that much bigger.
Which isn’t good because, you know, it’s not even November yet, my friends.
- No Federico Chiesa due to muscle fatigue.
- No Moise Kean due to injury.
- No Mattia De Sciglio due to injury.
- No Aaron Ramsey due to muscle fatigue. (Seriously.)
- Federico Bernardeschi is back in the squad after missing the midweek fixture against Sassuolo due to a shoulder injury.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
There’s more than just a few regular starters who could use a rest this weekend. And knowing that there’s a rather important Champions League fixture coming up midweek, some more squad rotation is very much a possibility this weekend.
Which would mean Juve’s starting lineup would look a lot more Brazilian.
Starting with, you know, this guy ...
Manuel Locatelli, thankfully, is expected to get some rest this weekend. That’s good because the kid needs it. He has been playing a lot of minutes lately, and his last few outings are very much reflective of that. And not in a good way, folks.
That’s why having this weekend off will be big for Locatelli, but it will also be important for the guy who will likely be tasked with doing a lot of what the Italian international has done.
Arthur isn’t a like-for-like replacement for Locatelli. We know that. We don’t expect Arthur to be the same kind of player that Locatelli is — especially when it comes to the ability to pass the ball. But when you think about who he is likely to start alongside in the midfield — a very well-rested Rodrigo Bentancur — then the Locatelli-ish kind of role is definitely going to fall on Arthur’s Brazilian shoulders.
(Hopefully it’s not too much weight so that he’s able to do the little circles. We love those little circles.)
We have yet to see Arthur play from the start this season since he has only made a couple of appearances off the bench since coming back from knee surgery right at the beginning of preseason training. In those 65 or so minutes he’s played, he’s looked relatively solid, and the hope is that he’s now able to take the next step of playing from the start and being the midfielder Juventus will need if Locatelli is indeed rested like most think he will be.
We’re still somewhat unclear about the kind of midfielder Allegri wants Arthur to be or what he envisions out of the Brazilian. But with Locatelli potentially out of the lineup on Saturday, we can get a pretty good hint at what Arthur’s role will be against Hellas Verona. That might not play into all of his strengths, but Juve are going to need somebody to step up with their best midfielder (likely) taking a much-deserved day off.
When: Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021
Where: Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi, Verona, Italy.
Official kickoff time: 6 p.m. local time in Italy and across Europe; 5 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 12 p.m. Eastern Time; 9 a.m. Pacific Time.
HOW TO WATCH
Television: BT Sport 3 (united Kingdom).
Online/mobile: Paramount+ (United States); BTSport.com, BT Sport App (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.