Three games down in the Champions League group stage. Three games left to go.
And since three is the number of choice here, you’ll never guess how many points Juventus has collected through the first thee Champions League group stage games this season ...
Yeah, it’s three.
Shocking, ain’t it?
Juventus finally did get off the schneid in the group stage last week at a less-than-raucous Juventus Stadium against Maccabi Haifa. And guess who’s back on the schedule all of six days later? Yep, the same Maccabbi Haifa squad that has proven to be a tougher out than many thought during the first half of the group stage this season. Whether that’s a good thing for Juventus — both the opponent and how tough the opponent is going to play on their home field on Tuesday night — is very much something that we really have no idea about these days.
But what we do know is this: If Juventus wants any chance of their already limited percentage of advancing to the Champions League knockout rounds to still be there when Tuesday night’s game is over with, then there’s only option out there that needs to happen.
It’s turning those three points into six. It’s not playing like you did over the weekend. (OK, so that’s technically two things, but just go with it, people.)
And maybe somebody actually taking control of Group H rather than Paris Saint-Germain and Benfica playing to a second straight draw would be nice to see as well.
But the main thing is that Juventus, coming off another loss in a big game against quality opposition, don’t let the small chance they do have of potentially making the Champions League Round of 16 go by the wayside. As much as Maccabi Haifa has played all of their opponents tough so far during this European campaign, Juventus will be the favorites, should be the favorites and are very much only approaching this as a must-win situation.
Because they have to.
It doesn’t matter if it PSG or Benfica was the opponent on Tuesday night, Juventus need a win. They need three points and only three points. Maccabi Haifa, for the electric atmosphere they’re bound to receive from their home fans at the jam-packed Sammy Ofer Stadium, will be jacked up to play all mighty Juventus on their home ground in Haifa, and because of that Max Allegri’s squad is going to be playing in an atmosphere that will be very much the opposite of what the Juventus Stadium was like last week.
As much as we know that Juventus is the more talented side and has a vastly superior roster to that of Maccabi Haifa, if Allegri’s squad plays anything close to what they looked like during Saturday night’s loss to Milan, then it’s going to be a complete slog in Haifa. It doesn’t matter what level the opponent is, this Juventus team just can’t get out of its own way sometimes and it’s continuing to be one of the biggest reasons why they are where they are through the first two months of the 2022-23 season.
And you know what? If that Juve shows up again, then they don’t deserve to even be thinking of the Champions League knockout rounds because they won’t be getting there. It will be Europa League on Thursday nights from here on out the rest of the season.
- The three long-term injuries are still there: Federico Chiesa, Paul Pogba and Kaio Jorge. Chiesa, as we know, is back to partial training, but Pogba has yet to return to the field. As is somewhat expected, Allegri has already ruled out Chiesa for this weekend’s Turin derby.
- Mattia De Sciglio is the only other injury absence of note for Juventus.
- Angel Di Maria is back in the squad after sitting out the second game of his two-game suspension over the weekend.
- With Di Maria back in the squad, Juventus will likely roll with a 4-3-3 formation.
- Danilo could start Tuesday night’s game on the bench due to the fact that he is one yellow card away from suspension. If Danilo were to start and get cautioned, he would miss Juve’s trip to Portugal to face Benfica on Oct. 25.
- Leandro Paredes is expected to be back in the starting lineup after coming off the bench in the 2-0 loss to Milan over the weekend.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
When Juventus faced Maccabi Haifa in Turin, the best player on the field was somebody who nobody really expected to be the best player on the field. It wasn’t the guy who had three assists and showed everybody his class despite being 34 years old. It was the guy with the very strong jawline and constant man bun.
Adrien Rabiot had what was likely his best game in a Juventus jersey last weekend against Maccabi Haifa. As you might have expected, it kicked off a few rumors that Juve were suddenly thinking of signing Veronique’s son to a contract extension, which would come as a surprise knowing how much the club was trying to offload him this past summer.
Ah, how those tables have turned.
While so many of Juve’s players have gone into the tank over the last month or two, I think it’s safe to say that Rabiot has not been one of them even before the standout performance against Maccabi Haifa last week. He hasn’t been that good like we saw last Wednesday, but he certainly hasn’t been Manuel Locatelli levels of forgettable form or anything like that, either.
Basically, in a season of runs of form that is pretty forgettable across the board outside of a few people, Rabiot is one of those guys that has actually played well and somebody who is very much somebody you’re OK with getting heavy amounts of minutes right.
That’s because so many other players have not been very good. You will take the pretty steady and solid over the alternative of what we’ve seen from much of Juventus’ midfield.
I will say this, though: Rabiot spent a few moments of his pre-match press conference on Monday talking about how he is trying to push his teammates and essentially eluding to the fact that he’s a leader on the team. Well, if Rabiot plays poorly and/or Juve drops points, I’m guessing those quotes will be brought up quite a bit, right? So for your sake, Adrien, let’s hope Juve win by, say, a 3-1 scoreline again.
When: Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022.
Where: Sammy Ofer Stadium, Haifa, Israel.
Official kickoff time: 7:45 p.m. local time in Israel; 6:45 p.m. in Italy and around Europe; 5:45 p.m. in the United Kingdom, 12:45 p.m. Eastern time, 9:45 a.m. Pacific time.
HOW TO WATCH
Television: BT Sport 1 (United Kingdom); Sky Sport Uno, Sky Sport 252 (Italy).
Online/Streaming: Paramount+ (United States); DAZN (Canada); BT Sport app, BTSport.com (United Kingdom); Sky GO Italia (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.