I have a confession to make and I feel like the BWRAO community deserves to hear it first. I just have to get it out there and we will take it from there, folks. It’s the only way to deal with this kind of thing.
OK, here we go.
The past two weeks without the men of Juventus playing .... they’ve been really, really nice. It doesn’t matter how busy my personal life has been, it doesn’t matter how busy my work life has been — and it’s most certainly been busy — but the fact that outside of a few newsy kind of things from Juventus over the last 13 days, there hasn’t been much to worry about or stress about. That’s because the managerial decision that some thought would make sense to happen during the international break didn’t happen, and outside of the expected massive amount of losses the club posted for the 2021-22 fiscal year, things were quiet.
I enjoyed the quiet. I really enjoyed the quiet.
The quiet, unfortunately, is gone again. Oh, how I will miss the quiet.
Sunday night brings us the first game in what is going to be a 12-game fixture in which a whole lot of things are going to be decided. The schedule will be an absolute gauntlet from here until the World Cup breaks begins, but Juve’s opponent this weekend, 16th-place Bologna, is very much the kind of one that can be looked at as three simple points as long as nothing major is screwed up.
The problem is, Juventus is coming off of one of this exact games two weeks ago when they headed into the international break with a 1-0 loss against Monza, giving the Serie A newbies their first-ever win in Italy’s top flight. And it’s the same kind of game that we’ve seen Juventus drop points in over the course of Max Allegri’s rather disappointing return to Turin.
But Allegri is very much talking up Bologna’s visit to Turin as Sunday being when “a new season begins.” He’s said that Juventus “have to return to winning ways,” with Bologna very much a struggling side that has all of one win to its name through their first seven games o the 2022-23 season. They’re already on their second manager of the season after letting Sinisa Mihajlovic go in the wake of five straight losses to begin the season. The new manager bounce with former Inter
goon midfielder Thiago Motta has been a relative development in the positive sense, but it’s not like things could get much worse for Bologna during the final days of the Mihajlovic tenure.
So, while table position matters, it’s not like playing teams in, just above or very much clear of the relegation zone has been something that has allowed Juventus to rack up points.
Quite frankly, it’s been the complete opposite.
If Juventus wants this to be the “new season” that he so desires it to be, then these are the games that Juventus has to win. That’s especially true when you see the relative unpredictability of what’s going on front of Juventus with the teams atop the table.
And let’s face it, it’s hard to get a laugh about Inter’s struggles when Juventus has been playing the way they have going into the international break. “Oh, you wanna laugh and cackle at Inter? Well, look at your club in the mirror, pal!” is something that I’ve probably told myself more than just a few times over the last month or so.
Maybe this Sunday is the start of something new for Juventus. Can a guy hope? Well, maybe not after the way Juventus has started the season. So maybe it’s more of the same. If you were to force yourself to choose, you would most likely choose Door No. 2 that is filled with Juve’s form from the first six weeks of the season.
Either way, we’re going to find out if this international break was the break that Juventus players and the guy calling the shots actually needed to get things back on track.
- Long-term injuries are still the same three dudes: Federico Chiesa, Paul Pogba and Kaio Jorge.
- Allegri did provide an update on Chiesa and Pogba, saying: “Chiesa will start working with the ball and getting closer to the team. Pogba hasn’t started running yet.”
- A host of players are back in the squad. Manuel Locatelli, Adrien Rabiot and Alex Sandro are back from their respective injuries, while Arek Milik and Juan Cuadrado are back from suspension. Allegri is also back from suspension after the Landucci Effect didn’t go so well against Monza.
- Juve’s only other absence is Angel Di Maria, who is serving a two-match suspension for his red card against Monza.
- This is the first of eight games in the month of October for Juventus.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
Are we going to talk about somebody that plays in Juventus’ midfield again?
Yes, yes we are.
It’s been a little while since we’ve seen Manuel Locatelli in the Juventus starting lineup. Or on the field entirely as a muscle injury — surprise! — kept the Italian midfielder out of the mix ever since Juve’s 2-1 loss to Paris Saint-Germain on Sept. 6.
But when he was actually healthy, it’s not like Locatelli was having all that great of a season. It was, somewhat painfully, a struggle to watch Locatelli fail to replicate the early-season form that he had last season after first arriving from Sassuolo.
What’s gone wrong? Well, it’s hard to say. With Leandro Parades now on the roster, Locatelli is very much not responsible carrying the brunt of the creative workload in midfield from a deep-lying position. Paredes, while a small sample size, has shown to be a much better option there compared to Locatelli, whose readjustment to a more advanced role in midfield has now worked out as well as many thought it would be.
Predicted lineups seem to be bouncing between Allegri using a 3-5-2 or a 4-4-2, which would mean that Locatelli could be an easy pick for the starting lineup or on the outside looking in if there’s just two men in the center of the park. If he does indeed get the start, this is most certainly a chance to start to get his season back on track and show what kind of midfielder he can be when things are going much more in the positive direction.
With Paul Pogba’s return date still very much up in the air, getting Locatelli back on track is most definitely an important piece to the puzzle if Juventus are to get some sort of form going over the course of the next four or six weeks before the World Cup break.
When: Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022.
Where: Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy.
Official kickoff time: 8:45 p.m. local time in Italy and around 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: TLN (Canada); BT Sport 1 (United Kingdom).
Online/Streaming: Paramount+ (United States); fuboTV Canada (Canada); BT Sport app, BTSport.com (United Kingdom); DAZN, 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.