Time to clean the slate, I guess?
That’s how it feels after the week Juventus has had.
The first three games out of the international break promised to be a stern test for the Bianconeri. The win over Lazio was a promising start, but the grades crashed through the floor after that victory. After a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Chelsea, Juve dropped a huge game against Atalanta. It was the first time they had lost at home to La Dea in 32 years, and buried them seven points behind their opponents in the race for the top four, with two other teams in between them.
Oh, and two key players left that game with an injury and the club offices were just raided by the Guardia di Finanza. Great week all around.
Currently sitting seventh (tied on points with Fiorentina and Lazio but behind the former on goals scored and ahead of the latter on goal difference), Juve have a long, long road to climb if they’re going to get themselves back into Europe’s top competition next year and avoid a financial calamity. That road starts on Tuesday against Salernitana.
If there’s any comfort it’s that the rest of the calendar year isn’t — or perhaps more accurately given the team’s recent tendencies, shouldn’t be — nearly as difficult as the last week was. Juve finish the andata with six games in the next four weeks, half of which are against the teams who currently reside in the relegation zone. Quite simply, Juventus need to win every single game between now and the new year to have any sort of ideas.
That starts with Salernitana, playing their first top flight season in 23 years. Predictably, they’re struggling. They currently prop up the table on just eight points, behind Cagliari on goal difference. They have the league’s joint-worst defense and have only scored 11 times in 14 games. Their on-field struggles have been compounded by off-field drama, as the team is currently in a trust due to the league’s rules against a single entity (Lazio owner Claudio Lotito, in this case) owning two teams at once in the same league).
The biggest name you may see on the other side on Thursday is one you wouldn’t expect at a club this tiny, but Franck Ribery seems to have fallen in love with Italy over his two-year stint at Fiorentina and has moved south to stay in the league in his career’s twilight. He’s supplied a pair of assists so far this season but no goals. He missed the weekend’s relegation six-pointer with Cagliari with flulike symptoms and is uncertain for Tuesday’s game. Also questionable is Juventus loanee Grigoris Kastanos, who missed the weekend’s game with muscle fatigue.
This is, simply, a game that needs to be won, and frankly won going away. Even with the injuries Juve currently have, they’re fantastically superior to Salernitana. If there is any way to claw back into the season, it has to start here.
- Federico Chiesa sustained a muscle injury at halftime of Saturday night’s game against Atalanta and will be out until the new year.
- Weston McKennie tweaked his knee in the second half on Saturday, but that injury isn’t thought to be serious. He’s day-to-day, but is not in the squad for Tuesday.
- Mattia De Sciglio and Danilo remain long-term absentees.
- Under-23 fullback Koni De Winter remains with the team.
- Also called up from the U-23 sqaud is winger Matias Soule, who was removed from the team’s game over the weekend in preparation for his call-up.
- Rodrigo Bentancur was rested over the weekend due to fatigue but is available for Tuesday.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
It seems like beating a dead horse, but the attack really, really needs to get going. Juventus have only scored 18 times against Serie A opposition this year — less than the next five teams behind them in the table. Even 15th-placed Sampdoria have scored two more goals than the Bianconeri.
With the league’s worst defense in front of them, it’s imperative that Juve start to get the attack moving again. And for that, Paulo Dybala absolutely needs to take over.
It’s not that Dybala has played poorly this season. He’s got six goals and four assists in all competitions, three and three in Serie A. The thing holding him back have been the niggling muscle injuries that have seen him miss the odd game here and there. Hopefully healthy again, Dybala is the one player on this team who has proven that he can take over offensively. If Juve are going to go anywhere the rest of the season, he needs to find a groove and start playing the way he did under Max Allegri in 2016-17, when he scored 27 times total and looked to be Europe’s next big superstar.
This team won’t get anywhere if it doesn’t score. With Chiesa out and the striker situation in stasis until Allegri either coaxes a hot streak out of Alvaro Morata or decides to bench him. This is the perfect opportunity for Dybala to lay down a marker and start swinging the pendulum back the other way.
When: Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021.
Where: Stadio Arechi, Salerno, Italy.
Official kickoff time: 8:45 p.m. local time in Italy and across Europe; 7 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time; 11:45 a.m. Pacific Time.
HOW TO WATCH
Television: BT Sport 1 (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.