At long last, Juventus has a win.
The problem is — or at least part of it — that said win is in the Champions League. And because of that, it means Juventus is still sitting on one point in Serie A through the first three games of the 2021-22 season. We said that after the Udinese draw ... and look what happened. Then we said that coming out of the international break when Juve headed to Naples to face Napoli ... and that didn’t turn out all that well, either.
So now, after Juventus actually won a game (although not in the competition where they desperately need a win), now we await to see if they can win a game in their latest early-season test against Serie A opposition.
Juventus may be facing a shorthanded AC Milan side on Sunday night in Turin, but it is that same team that is currently one of the handful of unbeaten teams in Serie A. Milan has done the opposite of what Juventus has done through the first three games of the season — you know, win all of its games. There’s already eight points separating the two clubs, and if Juventus were to lose a third Serie A fixture in the first four trips out onto the field, then they’re already looking at trailing at least one team leading the league by double digits.
In the middle of September, that would spell absolute doom and potentially mean that we’re looking at Max Allegri changing objectives right in front of our eyes a lot like what happened last season.
But if Juventus were to win — and forget just how shorthanded Milan may be for a minute here — then they’re moving on up the table and finally getting a win against a domestic opponent.
We saw something from Juventus midweek that we hadn’t previously seen in the squad’s first three league games — a comfortable and controlled win. The question coming out of the 3-0 win over Malmö is just whether or not Juve will be able to both build off it or even replicate it going forward both this weekend and beyond. That is the task for Max Allegri as this post-international break stretch truly gets going. Can he get this team right in a hurry? Or, can he get this team going after the loss to Napoli? Or will the dropping points on a consistent basis theme continue as we head toward a relatively soft spot in the schedule starting next week?
We know Juventus needs points. That’s the obvious point of all obvious points. But whether they can actually do it on a consistent basis still remains to be seen. That’s not something you want to be saying about the team you root for at this point of the season because it pretty much means that you’re off to a terrible start like Juventus is in the midst of right now.
This is the chance to start changing things without needing any kind of help from another club or to hope things bounce Juve’s way due to something silly happening. Juventus has one of the unbeaten clubs right in front of them hoping to keep their own strong start going. Juve wants to end this run of bad form, and there’s only one thing left to do.
And no, that’s not to replicate what happened in Naples last weekend.
Think about the opposite and then actually hope that takes place because that’s what Juventus needs to see happen for this one-point haul in the first three games of the season to actually become something different.
- Federico Chiesa is back at training and that is reason to be happy right there.
- Arthur is still out injured.
- Kaio Jorge is still out injured.
- Max Allegri said at his pre-match press conference he still has three decisions to make when it comes to his starting lineup for Sunday night — one in defense, one in midfield and one in attack. Let the speculation in the Italian press begin, folks.
- One of those doubts, according to Allegri, is Chiesa.
Allegri: "We had the group ready and complete very late on and we are still getting to know each other. The results haven't been proportional to the performances, we could have had more points. I'm as fired up as always!"#JuveMilan— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) September 18, 2021
- Allegri described Sunday night’s match as “more important for them than for us” — which, considering Juventus is sitting on one point after three games, seems a little odd. (But maybe that’s just me.)
- Allegri saying “Daniele Rugani is a player I rely on a lot” is something I didn’t expect to hear at a press conference this season, but here we are since he said it Saturday.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
Seeing as Federico Chiesa is just back from injury and probably won’t be in the starting lineup, we’ll go with what the Italian press is thinking on this one. Since, you know, the easiest thing to do after a rather comfortable win is to simply run it back.
And if that’s the case, then there will be somebody playing on the left wing, but he is not what you would call a left winger by any stretch of the imagination.
Adrien Rabiot will never be the kind of winger that somebody like Juan Cuadrado or Federico Chiesa is no matter how many times Max Allegri trots him out wide in a makeshift kind of wide role. Not that we are expecting him to suddenly become the high-flying winger like Chiesa can be our one that’s dropping assist after dropping assist to his teammates like Johnny Square seems to be doing for a good portion of the last couple of seasons.
But, for whatever reason, Allegri sees something in Rabiot that allows the Frenchman to be an effective wide player. Or, a kinda-wide player. Or the kind of “wide” player that allows him some kind of tactical flexibility that allows Juve to attack one way and defend in another. (Maybe not to the extent that Andrea Pirlo wanted, but a little bit of formational interchangeability can be useful.)
No matter if he’s wide or kinda wide or essentially playing off Manuel Locatelli’s left shoulder and making things a 4-3-3, Rabiot looks a lot more likely to start right now than a just-back-from-injury Chiesa. Obviously those are two very different kinds of players to have out wide (or kinda wide). And as we saw in Sweden on Tuesday night, the presence of Rabiot on the left might mean that Alex Sandro has more freedom to get involved offensively.
No matter the case, the possibility of Rabiot playing out wide is looking more and more like it could be something more than a one-game thing because there weren’t any wingers available. Hopefully it has the same kind of end result as Juve’s trip to Sweden did or else we’re going to be hoping for Chiesa to come back into the starting lineup more than we already are.
When: Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021.
Where: Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy.
Official kickoff time: 8:45 p.m. local time in Italy and across Europe; 7:45 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time; 11:45 a.m. Pacific Time.
HOW TO WATCH
Television: CBS Sports Network (United States); CBS Sports Network (Canada); BT Sport 1 (United Kingdom).
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.