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Juventus’ South American contingent won’t play against Napoli

This has been a great couple of days, hasn’t it?

Juventus v Empoli FC - Serie A Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

It was always going to be a race against time when it came to Juventus’ South Americans getting back to Turin for Max Allegri to feel comfortable to call them up for this weekend’s big away fixture against Napoli.

As he announced at Friday’s pre-match press conference, Allegri isn’t even going to take a chance with them.

Juventus’ South American contingent that played their final World Cup qualifiers of the September international break on Thursday night will not be a part of the traveling squad that heads to Naples for Saturday night’s showdown with Napoli. That means no Paulo Dybala, no Juan Cuadrado, no Rodrigo Bentancur, and no Danilo and Alex Sandro. That’s at least three would-be starters, and maybe even four or five, if they actually had time to get back to Italy in time to actually rest a little bit and then train with their teammates.

Instead, as Allegri pointed out: “The South Americans played at 3 a.m. this morning (Italian time), they would arrive in Naples (Saturday) morning and it makes little sense to risk them, also because on Tuesday we have kick off the Champions League.” He added that Cuadrado is dealing with a case of gastroenteritis and was not able to immediately head back to Turin, instead remaining in Colombia for treatment.

So Juventus will be without its vice captain and most talented striker. Juve will be without its assist leader from last season. And, depending on how Allegri might have had things planned if this fixture was happening at any other point in the season rather than right out of an international break, both of his starting fullbacks.

Oh, and as we found out a day earlier, Juventus will also be without Federico Chiesa after he returned from international duty with Italy with a slight hamstring injury and will subsequently held out of this weekend’s game against Napoli as a precaution.

Just the kind of things you want to hear for a team that has one point in their first two games of the 2021-22 season and is facing one of the more impressive squads in Serie A early on this year? Yeah, it all sounds grand.

But with COMMEBOL playing World Cup qualifiers on Thursday, this was always going to be one of the decisions Allegri was going to have to make. Like he said, with the length of the trip the players were making from South America and when Juve played this weekend, the South Americans would literally be back in Italy just hours before kickoff in Naples. Combine that with Allegri’s history of not playing many South Americans in the first game back from international breaks because of the toll all that travel takes, it’s no surprise that they haven’t been called up regardless of the stakes riding on Juve’s game with Napoli.

It sucks, but it’s not a surprise.

So now Juventus enter a big early-season test even more shorthanded than we thought they would be just a day or two ago. As Napoli look impressive, Juve come in ... basically in the exact kind of shape as their opposition. Not exactly shaping up to be an exciting weekend, is it? (Don’t answer that.)