The following sentence feels weird to type out considering the current state of Juventus, but here goes nothin’, folks.
With a win over Zenit St. Petersburg on Tuesday night, Juventus can advance to the round of 16 in the Champions League. Seriously, it’s a distinct possibility knowing that Juve’s won their first three group stage games as well as the fact that Chelsea is facing Malmö at the same time. A win and Juve’s in the knockout round. Heck, a draw and they’re in, too. All Juventus needs to do is get a point and that’s that.
Seems so simple, right?
Ah, but with everything going around Juventus at the moment, just what kind of team will actually show up is pretty much.
Ever since Juve’s 2-1 loss to Hellas Verona over the weekend, Max Allegri’s squad has been in ritiro at the J Hotel — the declaration that things are most definitely that things are not going anywhere close to good at the moment. It capped a week in which Juve dropped six points out of a possible six, with the distance between Allegri’s squad and the leaders in Serie A suddenly at a whopping 16 points. (Sixteen, people! Sixteen!)
So just as unimpressive as Juve’s 1-0 win over Zenit in Russia was a couple of weeks ago, it’s one of the few “good” things to happen of late for Allegri and Co. — which, since it was a couple of weeks ago, doesn’t exactly bode well for what’s happened of late.
Now, we wait. We wait and see just how much going into ritiro might pay off. If it does at all.
What we do know is that Juventus comes into this second meeting with Zenit playing about as poorly as they have all season. And considering what we’ve seen this season, that is saying something, isn’t it? Even though Juve’s not even a week and a half removed from the nine-game unbeaten run that actually gave a lot of us some glimmer of hope, the last two losses have both seen things come crashing down but also been a hard dose of reality.
Basically, Juve’s attack is in a funk. Juve’s midfield is still very much the midfield of old and can’t rely on Manuel Locatelli to save it all the time. And the defense, after five straight shutouts by way of 1-0 wins, is suddenly making the game-changing kind of mistakes it was earlier in the season. (Although, as we found out against Hellas Verona, sometimes the midfield can also help when it comes to the defense allowing goals.)
The manager, too, has been far from being on top of his game lately as well.
A recipe for ... yeah, nothing good.
But, on the bright side of all the recent darkness, Juventus can get one of the season’s goals out of the way with a positive result against Zenit. You know, those things where they could potential win and then, as a result of said victory, move into the Champions League Round of 16 with two group stage matches still to play.
Considering all of the (insert word of choice here) from the last few outings, having a little bit of good news from a Juventus match would be a chance for the better. And you never know, maybe the performance is actually along those same lines, too.
- Moise Kean is still out injured.
- Mattia De Sciglio is still out injured.
- Aaron Ramsey is still out injured.
- Allegri said both Matthijs de Ligt and Federico Chiesa are “fine.” Both players are being tipped by the Italian press to feature in the starting lineup against Zenit.
- Allegri said he would decide who’s playing Tuesday morning. Maybe he enjoyed that with a nice cup of coffee or two and a quality breakfast at the J Hotel.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
All of them. Every single one. Goalkeeper to striker, midfielders and wingers. There is not one single entity here. It’s time for the team to be a team again.
At this point, there is no singular player who is going to rescue Juventus’ season. There is no knight in shining armor who is going to show up, throw on those beloved stripes and save this team when they need it the most. There’s no quick fix where Max Allegri can just snap his fingers and everything will be solved.
Sure, this team is 3-for-3 in the Champions League and can advance to the knockout rounds with a single point out of Zenit’s visit to Turin. I get all of that. It’s what’s at stake on this night in this one specific game.
But if Juventus didn’t think that this game (and the one against Fiorentina) wasn’t something that could begin to turn things around, then they probably wouldn’t have even tried it in the first place. The decision to go into ritiro and focus solely on these next two games before the international break was one that is a result of what’s gotten the team here. They want it to improve both morale as well as their overall performance.
This is their chance to show everybody that it was actually worth a damn, that going into ritiro was not just something that got them a few days at J Hotel and that was that. This is, regardless of what Allegri’s starting lineup looks like or who comes off the bench over the course of 90 minutes on Tuesday night, that they could actually get out of this current situation.
It’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to be an case of instant gratification. But, for one game at least, this team needs to be exactly that — and then we’ll take it from there.
When: Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021.
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; 4 p.m. Eastern Time; 1 p.m. Pacific Time.
HOW TO WATCH
Television: BT Sport Extra (united Kingdom); Sky Sport Uno, Sky Sport 252, Canale 5 (Italy).
Online/mobile: Paramount+ (United States); DAZN (Canada); BTSport.com, BT Sport App (United Kingdom); SKY Go Italia, NOW TV, Mediaset Infinity (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.