For what feels like almost the entirety of the first 2 1⁄2 months of 2022, there has been very little slowing down for Max Allegri and his Juventus squad. Fixture after fixture have arrived without much time to rest in between, with an injury situation that has seen close to double-digit numbers of players missing time at once adding even more stress to a tired squad that has been begging for some rotation for weeks.
Juventus finally got that respite this week.
Seriously, with no midweek fixture in what feels like forever, Juve got the one thing they needed most — some rest. Oh, and maybe a few players to come back from injury, too.
With how busy the schedule has been, Juventus getting nearly a full week to prepare for one game seems like the ultimate luxury at this point of the 2021-22 season. That’s not going to be the case for much longer after Juventus’ trip to Genoa on Saturday night to face a Sampdoria side that is just a couple of points above the relegation zone. With a crucial Champions League fixture off on the horizon, both trying to keep any sort of momentum Juventus has going right now as well as keep the limited number of players who are actually healthy from avoiding injury this weekend and not make the task against Villarreal tougher than it already appears.
But when it comes to facing Sampdoria, it’s the kind of situation that Juventus has seen a lot of over the last few weeks as the strength of the schedule has lightened up a little bit. Sampdoria, with former-manager-turned-current-manager Marco Giampaolo back in the saddle again to try and help the club avoid being relegated. Just like last weekend, Juventus’ opponent is a team that can’t afford to slip up much further or else the tight race to not get sent down to Serie B will become even tighter.
As it stands right now, Sampdoria is four points ahead of Venezia, which sits in 18th place and on 22 points.
That comes to the very real line in thinking that Juventus, on paper, should win Saturday night’s game even with all of the players who are out injured and the previous voodoo that seems to hang around the Ferraris whenever they visit Genoa. But as we know, things have not been very routine over the last few weeks and months, especially during this current injury crunch where Allegri has seen close to a double-digit number of players out injured at once. Juventus is very much grinding out results right now, and you would have to assume that only continues to be the case for the time being with options to rotate the squad so limited.
Yes, even with a few extra days of rest, this team is still very much a tired one that has had very little chance to take time off of late.
Either way, Allegri and his Juventus squad very much know the situation at hand — continue to win, continue to hold firm to fourth place at the very least. It’s currently a six-point advantage over Atalanta and Roma right now, and hopefully it remains that way at minimum when we turn our attention to Villarreal in full.
- These Juventus players are still out due to injury: Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Weston McKennie, Denis Zakaria, Paulo Dybala, Federico Chiesa, Kaio Jorge.
- Federico Bernardeschi is also out for the trip to Genoa due to yellow card accumulation. He had just returned from injury last weekend against Spezia.
- Alex Sandro and Mattia De Sciglio are back in the squad following their respective injury absences. Max Allegri finally has some depth at fullback again.
- Under-23 players Marley Aké, Fabio Miretti and Diego Stamaccioni have all been included in the traveling squad to face Genoa.
- At his pre-match press conference, Max Allegri said that he “could” have Dybala back in the squad for next week’s Champions League Round of 16 second leg tie against Villarreal.
- Same goes for both Chiellini and Bonucci, according to Allegri. “When the Champions League arrives, it’s like honey, it attracts everyone,” quipped Max.
- Max Allegri is not buying a late-season Scudetto push — again. He said: “Our objective is to finish in the top four. Whether fourth, third or second, it’s not important. What is important is that we continue our positive run and hold down fourth place.”
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
The man in the foreground of the photo is being tipped to get a much-deserved rest this weekend against Sampdoria with a huge Champions League matchup awaiting Juventus.
And even if he did play, the back that’s actually in focus in this photo is gonna be important.
Outside of Dusan Vlahovic potentially getting some rest with Villarreal up next on Wednesday night, the starting lineup we see against Sampdoria is likely going to look just like the one we saw against Spezia last weekend. The players who are just back from injury, obviously, aren’t ready for heavy minutes, which means it will be easy for Allegri to fill out his lineup sans Vlahovic.
And no matter if it’s a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3, Juan Cuadrado is going to be looked upon to provide the creativity that other attacking players clearly won’t be able to provide. (What? You think Adrien Rabiot will? Please, we know better than that by now.)
Cuadrado has had a nice run of form lately, even if some of his crossing has been a little ... off. He’s got two assists in the last five games, and he was one of the brighter spots in the grindfest that was the 1-0 win over Spezia last weekend.
No matter if it’s Vlahovic, Moise Kean or Alvaro Morata leading the line Saturday night, Cuadrado’s crossing and overall ability to create scoring chances — especially on the counter thanks to his speed — will be vital if Juventus don’t want to slip up and drop points after finally getting some distance between themselves and Atalanta.
Basically, the hope is that Cuadrado sends in some nice crosses and sets things up for the forward line. Or that’s my hope, at least. I’m guessing that’s how Max is thinking, too.
When: Saturday, March 12, 2022.
Where: Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris, Genoa, Italy.
Official kickoff time: 6 p.m. local time in Italy and around Europe, 5 p.m. in the United Kingdom, 12 p.m. Eastern time, 9 a.m. Pacific time.
HOW TO WATCH
Television: BT Sport 3 (United Kingdom).
Streaming: Paramount+ (United States); BTSport.com, BT Sport app (United Kingdom); DAZN (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.