We are officially getting close to the final month of the 2021-22 season. This time next weekend, you will be able to count the amount of remaining Juventus’ Serie A fixtures on one hand, with a wide range of quality of opposition still very much left on the docket.
For now, though, we still need a second hand to count, with six matches remaining. And because of that, we’re reaching the part of the schedule where doing some math becomes part of a Max Allegri pre-match press conference. That very much happened Friday.
With Juventus getting a visit from Bologna on Saturday night — remember, everybody is not playing Sunday because they’ll be going to church and hunting for Easter eggs — Allegri’s squad has its latest chance to dig into its fourth-place standing in Serie A while facing a mid- or lower-table opposition. While it may not be the relegation battler that Cagliari was last weekend, Bologna is the kind of opponent that we’ve seen Juve both beat but also drop points against over the course of the season.
Allegri is aware of that. He was quick to point out how Bologna took a point from AC Milan a couple of weeks ago. He was also the one doing some quick math while on the microphone Friday, saying: “In my opinion, we need at least 10 points to make it to the Champions League.”
If that is the goal, then getting a win over a Bologna side — one that will be without manager Sinisa Mihajlovic as he undergoes further treatment for leukemia — can go a long way in getting to that 10-point mark. And that’s especially true knowing that there tricky fixtures still to come on the schedule — a trip to Sassuolo and Lazio and Fiorentina to close out the season — before the season comes to a close.
While Allegri has gotten some regulars back from injury in recent weeks, Juve enters Saturday night’s matchup with 12th-place Bologna with all of two central midfielders available. (If it’s not one thing, it’s another during this stupid, stupid season, right?) That could end up being where Allegri truly has to experiment a little bit, but other than that injury situation is pretty much what it has been the last few weeks.
Regardless of that, though, we know that it’s simply the result that matters most these days. Like the win over Cagliari, style points don’t necessarily matter this time of year. If Juventus has to grind out another win, then so be it. The last thing that Allegri needs to do is have his team dropping points and making that 10-point magical number harder to get to as soon as possible.
“First off, we need to claim the three points on offer tomorrow,” said Allegri. “In fact, we need to put as many points as possible on the board from now until the end of the season.”
I personally can get on board with something like this. That’s not always what ends up happening, but that’s just Juventus in the year 2022. Hopefully they prove me wrong and finish the season strong. The last thing we need to see take place is for Roma to put a ton of pressure on Juve and make this season basically be the reverse case of last season.
- Juventus’ three long-term absences remain: Federico Chiesa, Weston McKennie and Kaio Jorge.
- Thanks to Arthur picking up a sprained ankle in training and Manuel Locatelli still at least a few weeks from returning from his own injury issue, Juve only has two healthy senior team midfielders for Bologna’s visit to Turin: Adrien Rabiot and Denis Zakaria.
- With just Rabiot and Zakaria available in the center of the park, it is very possible that Danilo is played as a makeshift midfielder if it’s a three-man midfield, according to Max Allegri.
- Leonardo Bonucci “is fit and ready,” according to Allegri. Bonucci or Giorgio Chiellini will start alongside Matthijs de Ligt, with Allegri saying a lot of his decision will depend on plans for Wednesday night’s Coppa Italia semifinal against Fiorentina.
- Dusan Vlahovic “will play” against Bologna, according to Allegri.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
Who’s ready for Danilo The Midfielder again?
You may not want it, but it looks like you’re going to get it.
Yes, with two midfielders available to Max Allegri and to line of thinking that Juve’s manager might not want to extend Denis Zakaria too much seeing as he’s just back from injury and there being an important midweek fixture in a few days, Danilo playing as a makeshift midfielder is very much in the cards against Bologna.
You’ve been warned.
You are allowed to prepare yourself for Danilo to fire in a pass to Paulo Dybala or somebody else standing 10 yards away from at absolute maximum velocity rather than putting some touch on it so it doesn’t feel like the ball was shot out of a cannon.
Do it for your own good.
But, jokes aside, this is not the first time that Allegri will go to the Danilo-as-a-midfielder well. We’ve seen it before this season and we saw it when Andrea Pirlo was extremely shorthanded as well. As much as you want to see a Rabiot-Zakaria double pivot, you can also understand why Allegri is a little hesitant to rely so heavily on the Swiss international knowing that he has dealt with injury issues since coming to Juventus from the Bundesliga. And because he can dip into the well, get a little crazy and go with Danilo in some sort of role in the midfield because there literally is no other option.
Much of the Italian press seems to think that it’s a double pivot with Danilo and Rabiot. That seems to be the most logical direction in which Allegri will go regardless of what he said at his pre-match press conference. Maybe we see a three-man midfield and Danilo is part of with Zakaria and Rabiot. Either way, my gut is telling me to prepare for Danilo the midfielder rather than Danilo the fullback when Juventus faces Bologna.
And while that’s not exactly the best solution for the current situation, it usually ends up not being the worst one, either. So, hey. When you’ve only got a few midfielders available to you, sometimes the not-terrible option will turn out to be perfectly OK.
When: Saturday, April 16, 2022.
Where: Allianz Stadium Turin, 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 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.