We’ve reached the uncomfortable part of the season that is back in our lives after things were absolutely bonkers this time last year. It’s the first week of September. It’s the first international break of the season. And, because of the fact that it’s the first week of September, that means there’s no transfer talk to dominate the sports pages across Italy.
No more Cristiano Ronaldo rumors. (Sorry to disappoint.)
No more Manuel Locatelli meetings to cover and write about. (Sorry to disappoint again.)
There’s still a Paulo Dybala contract extension to talk about, but that is something that has meetings to come and there’s nothing really new to come out of there in the last week or two.
Ah, but Juventus’ form, even though they haven’t played in over a week now, has been something that certainly can be discussed no matter if it’s an international break or not. And the catch in all of this is that Max Allegri’s first two games back at Juventus has been not exactly what you would call impressive outside of the first 30 or 40 minutes against Udinese.
Because of Juve’s struggles — and, to a greater extent, Allegri’s continued “experimentation — that has, surprising to no one, caused the Italian press to speculate about things coming out of the international break. And because it’s not speculation about what Juve’s roster is going to look like come the end of the summer transfer window, it’s now about what Allegri’s starting lineup and tactical setup is going to look like when Juventus return to the field against Napoli this coming weekend.
There’s been talk of a 4-4-2 with Paulo Dybala and Federico Chiesa (?!) up front.
CorSport: "La ricostruzione della Juve di Allegri prevede come schema di partenza il 4-4-2 molto flessibile con Chiesa che potrà giocare sia esterno che punta al fianco di Dybala" ----> https://t.co/6e19fv5SeK pic.twitter.com/Y3BJlHybSm— VecchiaSignora.com (@forumJuventus) September 4, 2021
There’s also been talk of a 3-4-2-1 — or, a three-man defense if you want it in simpler terms — where Giorgio Chiellini comes back into the team.
GdS: "Tra Napoli e Malmoe ,Allegri pensa ai suoi big per blindare la difesa a tre, che offre diverse soluzioni offensive: dal 3-5-2 con Dybala e Morata in attacco al 3-4-2-1..." ----> https://t.co/I7dKYvdKZQ pic.twitter.com/AgwDe68Nxc— VecchiaSignora.com (@forumJuventus) September 3, 2021
So, two different reports with two very different kinds of setups. Since Juventus has been training with a very limited number of senior team players over the course of this international break — and very few of them being what you would consider anywhere close to the starting lineup — who really knows if either of these formations are even being discussed knowing that so many important players aren’t currently in Turin. And you would think that if Allegri is plotting some kind of big-time tactical shift that would involve players being in different positions and all that, then it wouldn’t come during an international break when said players aren’t even there for another couple of days.
But here we are.
In the middle of the first international break of the 2021-22 season, the Italian press is taking a few guesses at what they think Allegri is going to do when club football gets going again this weekend. (For Juventus, that means a very, very tough trip to Naples to face a Napoli side that has started off the Luciano Spalletti era rather well.) They could very well be onto something, or they could just be spitballing here at a time when Allegri’s formational setup and the squad’s overall lack of a concrete identity have been called into question.
Sounds great, doesn’t it?
I will leave you with this: Just a few days after throwing out that Allegri could use a three-man defense, La Gazzetta dello Sport’s predicted lineup as I type out this sentence says that Allegri will go with a 4-4-2 with Alvaro Morata and Chiesa up front and Dejan Kulusevski and Federico Bernardeschi on the wings. (The good in that is they think Manuel Locatelli will get his first Juventus start, so there’s that.)