This past weekend, Juventus did something they haven’t done a lot of over the last few years. It’s hard to believe with how this team has played for much of the time since Max Allegri came back in the summer of 2021, but Juve actually one a big game against one of their biggest rivals. It happened — we have proof of it.
That win over Inter was the first in the final stretch before the World Cup break arrives.
With it now in the past, it means there’s all of 180 or so minutes left before much of Juventus’ roster heads to Qatar to play in whatever the heck we’re calling this tournament.
What this final week is giving us, if anything other than the chance to collect six more points before the 2022 slate of games comes to a close, is a preview of what the Europa League schedule setup might be like. Ah, yes — that glorious Thursday and Sunday grind in which some of Juve’s other direct rivals have dealt with over the last few years.
The first half of that Thursday-Sunday grind to wrap up the pre-World Cup break schedule has Juventus heading to the Bentegodi to face a Hellas Verona squad that is ... not very good. Like, not good at all. And with Juve fresh off their biggest win of the season this past weekend, the last thing we need to see happen is for this team to take a step back just when it’s starting to look like they’re starting to build a little bit of momentum.
That’s been something that has been an issue with Allegri 2.0 amongst all of the other issues that have come out of the last year and a half under Max’s watch. There have been some solid wins in there — obviously not enough for anybody’s liking! — but there’s also been some very bad performances and results just when things start to look like they’re turning for the better.
This is Juventus’ chance to not only shed some of those previous demons that have hampered them over the last 16 months but also to try and take advantage of the tact that some of the teams that are sitting in front of them in the Serie A standings have themselves dropped points recently and allowed Allegri’s side to close the gap in the race for the top four.
AC Milan dropped points on Tuesday night. Atalanta dropped points on Wednesday night. So did Roma. This is the opportunity for Juventus — which entered the final midweek round of 2022 in fifth place but is now sixth, a point behind Roma, after Wednesday’s results — to jump over a couple of their direct rivals for the top four after they dropped points.
Seriously, Juventus could jump into third with a win on Thursday night and a Lazio loss later in the day. That’s not a bit. This is not a drill.
(Also makes Sunday night’s matchup in Turin just that much more important, doesn’t it?)
So let’s just put this out there right now: Hellas Verona is not a good team.
In fact, in a season that has seen some of the provincial sides very much completely surpass preseason expectations, Hellas has done just about the opposite of that. They are not in the top half of the table. They are not even close to the top half of the table. In fact, as I type this, Hellas Verona sits dead last in Serie A with one win to its name through the first 13 rounds of games.
So while Allegri is very much dropping lines like “Tomorrow, we will play in Verona against a team that has beaten Juventus three times in the last five games” at his pre-match press conference, this Verona team is very much not like those Verona teams. This Hellas team has one of the worst attacks in the league. This Hellas team has the worst defense in the league.
No matter how shorthanded Juve may still be due to injuries — and there still are some even though players are coming back into the fold again — this is a game that only has one option attached to it. Juventus has to win, and maybe they’ll win by a few goals rather than Allegri hunkering things down per usual. If the second half against Inter on Sunday night showed us anything, it’s the fact that having the foot on the gas no matter the score is not a bad thing by any means.
- The injury list is not as long as it used to be! This is a good thing!
- Leandro Paredes is back in the squad.
- Moise Kean is also back in the squad.
- However, the injury is still a long one, with these players still out injured for the trip to Verona: Paul Pogba, Dusan Vlahovic, Weston McKennie, Mattia De Sciglio, Samuel Iling-Junior, Marley Aké and Kaio Jorge.
- Federico Chiesa was not called up for the trip to Verona, with Allegri not giving a totally specific reason for why that was the case at his pre-match press conference.
- Allegri said that Vlahovic “is feeling better,” but still dealing with a groin injury.
- Mattia Perin will get the start in goal, according to Allegri.
- Allegri said Angel Di Maria, who came back into the squad for the Derby d’Italia, will “likely to have half an hour in his legs.”
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
I’ve honestly just thought about running it back and going with Nicolo Fagioli again. it would totally make sense, right? He’s the name that everybody wants to see on the team sheet right now and the one who has been great in his first couple of starts with Juve.
But, there’s also something else that was really good to see against Inter that has been bubbling up a bit over the last couple of weeks. Yes, one cross at a time.
I said it in the post-game thread over the weekend and I will repeat it here: How Filip Kostic played against Inter is exactly the kind of performance Juventus thought they were getting when they signed him this past summer.
And, as many have noted over the past few days, that Kostic performance looked a lot like what he did for a good portion of his time with Eintracht Frankfurt.
Is it convenient that Kostic has come alive just a few short weeks before he heads off to the World Cup to hopefully send in lots of crosses to Dusan Vlahovic while they wear the very classy Serbia kit? Sure, you can go that direction with it.
But I want to point to what has happened over the last few weeks that has contributed to Kostic’s uptick in form: Allegri has started using a 3-5-2/3-5-1-1 formation in which Kostic absolutely thrived in during his time with Frankfurt. What formation did Frankfurt use as Kostic became one of the best assist men in Europe’s top five leagues? Yes, kind of one Juventus is using right now.
Juve signed Kostic to do exactly what he’s been doing of late — set things up for his teammates to try and score goals. Maybe Kostic will get a few more goals to his name before the season is over, but as long as the assists continue to go up and up and up, that’s Kostic doing the main thing he brings to this team.
Fire off those crosses as much as you want, Filip. They’re definitely working out quite well lately.
When: Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022.
Where: Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi, Verona, Italy.
Official kickoff time: 6:30 p.m. local time in Italy and around Europe, 5:30 p.m. in the United Kingdom, 12:30 p.m. Eastern time, 9:30 a.m. Pacific time.
HOW TO WATCH
Television: BT Sport 1 (United Kingdom); Sky Sport Uno, Sky Sport Calcio (Italy).
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.