There’s no denying that Juventus is coming into Wednesday night’s Italian Super Cup final far from a team that is one to be considered at full strength. No matter where you look on the depth chart there are players missing either due to injury, suspension or the stupid virus that continues to rage all over the world. Thanks to all of those absences, Juve’s meeting with Inter Milan the same stadium it calls home — although not on this night! — isn’t exactly screaming confidence.
Due to all of those absences, Max Allegri will once again be forced to work with a shorthanded roster that is down its best defender (the suspended Matthijs de Ligt), its best attacking player not named Paulo Dybala (the injured Federico Chiesa) as well as its starting goalkeeper (the recently vaccinated Wojciech Szczesny). Allegri’s starting lineup is likely to feature at least two defenders you probably don’t want to see in the starting lineup all that much going forward after this game, while the attack will likely see a pair of wingers who have very much been under the microscope for different reasons the last few months.
The list of absentees isn’t necessarily a lengthy one, but it’s one that has big-time names on it:
- Matthijs de Ligt (suspended)
- Juan Cuadrado (suspended)
- Federico Chiesa (injured)
- Aaron Ramsey (COVID-19)
OK, OK. I didn’t say all of them were big-time names with big-time roles on this team. Most of them, not all of them.
The main squad selection questions center around Dybala’s availability as Allegri tries to maneuver the busy month of January and not see his No. 10 go down with another injury. After coming off the bench in the 1-1 draw against Napoli last Thursday, Dybala played 82 minutes before coming off for late defensive sub Giorgio Chiellini in Sunday night’s wild 4-3 comeback win over Roma. With the fixtures so compact to begin the new year, seeing Dybala coming off the bench against Inter wouldn’t necessarily be a surprise even though he is very much needed as a consistent contributor with Chiesa now out for the season.
(Counterpoint: You can’t have Dybala consistently contribute if he’s injured, so there.)
This also could be the first chance in the starting lineup for Dejan Kulusevski since Chiesa’s injury. The subject of a lot of transfer rumors over the last couple of weeks, Kulusevski has reportedly been taken off the transfer market now that Juve can’t afford to lose another winger. If Chiesa’s absence means Kulusevski will get consistent minutes for the first time this season, then this is the chance for the young Swede to show that he belongs at Juventus once and for all.
One final potential decision Allegri will have to make with his starting lineup will be on the left side of defense with Alex Sandro and Luca Pellegrini. Sandro is back in the matchuday squad, while Pellegrini has yet to feature in the new year after suffering from a non-COVID illness as the team returned to training.
Juventus XI (4-3-3): Perin; De Sciglio, Rugani, Chiellini, Alex Sandro; McKennie, Locatelli, Rabiot; Bernardeschi, Morata, Kulusevski.