Even as fans come back into the stands and stadium capacity numbers continue to expand as we quickly make our way toward the end of 2021, there is still one thing to remember even though Juventus’ schedule is very much back to normal and fixtures aren’t being crunched together like a season ago.
We are, unfortunately, still very much in the midst of a pandemic.
We know this because Italy’s COVID curve is still trying to work its way down after a summerge uptick in cases. And, as might guess, players are still testing positive.
Juventus officially has its first cornavirus case of the 2021-22 season, although not officially coming during a time when a big portion of the club’s roster is out on international duty. This case has come within the France national team, with Adrien Rabiot testing positive on Saturday morning, the French national team announced Saturday, just two days removed from his team’s win over Belgium in the semifinals of the UEFA Nations League.
As a result, Rabiot will miss Sunday’s Nations League final against Spain in Milan. It also means Rabiot is probably out for Juventus’ return to the field next weekend against Roma.
Adrien Rabiot est forfait pour la finale face à l’Espagne demain. Le Français a été testé positif à la COVID-19 #equipedefrance— Loïc Tanzi (@Tanziloic) October 9, 2021
Now, obviously some things have changed in terms of the strict-as-hell protocols that were in place when things first got back underway following the lockdown in Italy a year and a half ago. We don’t know if Rabiot was vaccinated, or if he’s even symptomatic after testing positive. (Correct me if I am wrong, but athletes being questioned about their vaccination status certainly isn’t the same talking point as it is in professional sports leagues in the U.S.)
Regardless, Rabiot will be out at least a week or two until he can test negative for COVID. That not only means that he’ll miss the visit to Turin by Roma, but also Juve’s trip to Russia when they face Zenit St. Petersburg in the third Champions League group stage game of the season.
Losing Rabiot for a two-week period provides an interesting lineup dilemma for Max Allegri knowing that he had been playing the Frenchman out wide on the left of his 4-4-2 setup for much of the September fixtures. And with Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata still out injured, there’s still very much a need for his wingers to playing more advanced roles. So where does Allegri go with this? We’ll we’re going to see just what goes down pretty soon.