We are now getting close to the final week of October, everybody. For many, that means getting your kiddos ready for what is going to happen on the final days of the month. For others, that maybe means getting ready to celebrate a birthday or getting ready for other things that come with the arrival of fall.
For Juventus, there’s one thing that still very much is out there for the taking.
An actual winning streak against Serie A opposition.
Yes, Juventus will be into a game on the 21st day of October looking to actually win a second consecutive matchup against a domestic opponent. That means they’ve gone the first 10 rounds of play without doing so — which really does tell you a lot about how Juve’s season has gone to date. But with Empoli rolling into the Allianz Stadium on Friday night, Juventus has another chance to win a second straight game against Serie A opposition just like they did right out of the gate, just like they did in early September and just like they did coming out of the September international break in early October.
/takes finger to headset in right ear
Oh, they’re telling me that Empoli beat Juventus at the Allianz last season and are just a couple of points behind Max Allegri’s squad in the table.
/nods with disappointment/
So, this is where we’re at. Juventus got a win over the weekend against Torino in the first Derby della Mole of the season, but it’s not like the performance was all that much improved from what we had seen over the last few weeks or months before that. It was maybe a little bit better, but not by such a wide margin where you can sit there and say that ritiro was such a great decision and the thing that got this team locked back in.
Allegri says that the team “is doing better mentally” after the win over Torino, and that might be the biggest development to come out of the Derby della Mole simply by how rundown a lot of the players were looking as they played out the 2-0 loss to Maccabi Haifa just a couple of days earlier. The body language after the loss in Israel said it all — and it was very much reflective of how the season up until that point had developed and just what kind of crushing loss to their Champions League future it proved to be.
So when it comes to Serie A competition, if Juve want any shot of even getting back into the top four before the World Cup break, these kinds of matchups against mid- or lower-table opponents — and there are still a few of them before the likes of Inter or Lazio show up on the schedule in November — have to be won. It’s just that simple. Empoli’s form guide looks a lot like Juve’s — sometimes eerily similar when it comes to the results against common opponents — and they can say something that the Bianconeri can’t.
Yes, Empoli actually beat Monza, putting a momentary dent in Palladino Mania running wild.
Above all, Juventus needs to build off the latest win they’ve gotten for the simple fact that they haven’t done that at all this season. It’s been one small step forward and then one or two steps back. Where Allegri’s squad currently sits in the Serie A table — in eighth place right behind Inter — is pretty much reflective of how they’ve played this season.
You know how to change that? To win — and string wins together at the same time.
That’s something that could very well happen on Friday night no matter how unimpressive Juve was the last time they took the field (and beyond that).
- Two of the three long-term absentees, Federico Chiesa and Paul Pogba, are back in training as of this week. The other, Kaio Jorge, is very much still a long way from being back in training.
- However, Max Allegri was quick to shoot down the two big names who have recently returned to working with the squad — and moreso Chiesa based on how long he’s been back in training — coming back into the squad for Friday night’s game. The wait continues.
- Angel Di Maria is out injured.
- Bremer is out injured.
- Mattia De Sciglio is out injured.
- Allegri said Fabio Miretti is “doing better,” which may explain that the ankle injury he picked up during the international break might have lingered a little bit the last couple of weeks. “He is growing, just like Nicolo Fagioli and Matias Soulé,” Allegri said of Miretti.
- “It’s clear that from now until the end of the year we must no longer make any more mistakes,” Allegri said of what his team needs to do over the next couple of weeks. (Who wants to tell him what team he manages and what they’ve done so far this season?)
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
Back to talking about somebody who plays in Juve’s midfield?
Yep, we’re back to talk about somebody who plays in Juve’s midfield.
Juventus has played five games since coming back from the international break. In those five games, Leandro Paredes has gotten the start in just one of them, with his most recent appearance being a 90th-minute substitution in the Derby della Mole over the weekend.
For somebody who Max Allegri pretty much had to have during the summer transfer window, this kind of playing time dip is not all that unavoidable. And it’s not like Juve’s midfield has been completely healthy over this span, either — which, again, points to just how this sudden shift from starting all of a couple of days after signing with Juve to now starting one game in the last five is not all that great.
All of that being said, Paredes is being tipped to start against Empoli on Friday night. That would be his first start since Juve’s 3-1 win over Oct. 5 over Maccabi Haifa in Turin.
Just what kind of Paredes are we going to get? At this point, who really knows. It’s not like his form has been all that great over a large period of time, with there being flashes of some really good things only to be replaced with some not very good performances. (Gee, kinda like the rest of his team!)
Paredes is the most natural deep-lying midfielder Juve have on their roster. And he is a player that Allegri specifically asked for, so you know he is somebody in which the embattled Juve manager thinks is critical to his team’s success. But it’s hard to do that when he’s on the bench and somebody else is having to play a role that is clearly not their best.
When: Friday, Oct. 21, 2022.
Where: Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy.
Official kickoff time: 8:45 p.m. 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: BT Sport 3 (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.