When Juventus takes the field Monday night at the Mapei Stadium, they will be well aware of what the situation is. Roma has already played — and lost — against Inter Milan, clearing way for the chance to create even more air space between fourth place and fifth place. Same goes for the team that is immediately in front of Juventus in the standings, Napoli, which suffered a surprising loss to Empoli in Tuscany Sunday night.
No matter what we tell ourselves, the race for fourth place is the only thing that matters during this final handful of Serie A fixtures this season.
And that’s what is also what Juve can further consolidate against Sassuolo.
The results have, as you might have noticed, fallen in Juventus’ favor during the first two days of Round 34 in Serie A. But come Monday night, it will be Juve’s time to take the field and try to take full advantage of those results going their way. It comes at a stadium that has historically been a bit of a bugaboo for them, although not as much recently despite all of the coaches that have come through Turin the last four years.
But what a win over Sassuolo would mean is that they would be that much closer to wrapping up fourth place before the hectic and challenging final two weeks of the season — one where Juve will play the Coppa Italia final and then Lazio and Fiorentina — arrive and provides its own unique set of issues.
Then again, so does Sassuolo.
Juventus will be facing a Sassuolo team, one that currently sits comfortably in 10th place right behind Hellas Verona, that has a player in Giacomo Raspadori who has been described as the Bianconeri’s top summer transfer target this season. And he’s just one piece to the Sassuolo puzzle. There is also Gianluca Scamacca, somebody who has been looked at as the potential next big thing — both in terms of his physical attributes and goal scoring ability — to come through Serie A and for the Italian national team.
Sassuolo, as has been the case for years now, has at least one or two players you could see playing for Juventus in the future. As much as Scamacca is certainly out of the running because of the January arrival of Dusan Vlahovic, Raspadori is very much on the table — especially so with what he had to say about Juventus just a few days ago.
You know Raspadori will be fired up to play a team that is certainly interested in signing him this coming summer. Same probably goes for Scamacca knowing that Juventus chose to go with Vlahovic over the young Italian. And when those guys — and Domenico Berardi, too — are clicking, Sassuolo is certainly capable of doing some things no matter the opposition.
Juventus enters this game off the back of a fine showing against Fiorentina in Wednesday night’s second leg of the Coppa Italia semifinals. One of their best games in weeks — if not more than that — it will hopefully serve as a jolt of energy for a squad that is still dealing with a host of injuries to a number of key players, including a brand new injury to Juan Cuadrado.
Despite all of the absences, this team is somehow found a way more often than not over the last few months. Not all the time, but a good portion of it. If Juventus is able to do so again Monday night, then their hold on fourth place will become that much stronger and with the added bonus of being within striking distance of third place, too. Not bad, all things considered.
- You know the three long-term absentees by now: Federico Chiesa, Weston McKennie and Kaio Jorge.
- Manuel Locatelli is still likely a couple of weeks away from returning to the starting lineup. Allegri doesn’t sound too optimistic about Locatelli coming back before the end of the season.
- Same goes for McKennie, who is shooting to be back in training by the end of April. Allegri said at his pre-match press conference that McKennie has began running again, “but he’s still a long way off being match fit.”
- Arthur will again miss out due to injury, according to Allegri at his pre-match press conference.
- That means, again, Allegri will have two healthy senior-level central midfielders available to him Monday night: Denis Zakaria and Adrien Rabiot.
- To the surprise of no one, Fabio Miretti and Emanuele Zuelli have been called up from the Under-23 to provide a little bit of cover in the midfield.
- Cuadrado was not called up for the trip to Sassuolo due to a muscle strain he suffered during training Saturday afternoon.
- Rabiot and Dusan Vlahovic are both one yellow card away from being forced to serve a one-game suspension.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
Juventus’ midfield is always going to be a focus.
But when there’s only two midfielders available due to multiple injuries, it makes for easy pickens in terms of who we can potential focus on here.
We’ve put the spotlight on Arthur and later Denis Zakaria recently, so who’s left? This guy ...
It’s everybody’s favorite Frenchman!
In terms of what the Italian press is predicting coming into this Juventus edition of Monday night football, they aren’t throwing the Danilo-as-a-midfielder situation out there again. Of course, that can become a reality again because Max Allegri always has a wild card up his sleeve whenever we least expect it. But, for now, with two midfielders available, there’s very much little room for rotation in the middle of the park simply because there are no other options.
Knowing who’s available and who isn’t, you gotta think it’s a 4-2-3-1, right?
For as much stick as we give Rabiot around here, he has done much better in recent weeks. One could say that the way he was playing for much of 2022 was rather poor, so it’s not like there was anywhere to go but up for the much-maligned Frenchman. But with Rabiot, it’s the tease of the potential — you know he’s got it in him, but you just don’t know when it’s going to show up. The last few weeks, though, Rabiot has been better, and the hope is that he can finish strong knowing that the midfield options are so limited right now.
It could be in a double pivot this weekend, then more of a three-man midfield the next. Either way, Rabiot is going to be looked upon to be the player he has been in Juve’s last few games rather than the player he had been for much of the 2021-22 season.
When: Monday, April 25, 2022.
Where: Mapei Stadium, Sassuolo, 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: BT Sport 1 (United Kingdom); Sky Sport Uno, Sky Sport 251, Sky Sport Calcio, Sky Sport 4K (Italy).
Streaming: Paramount+ (United States); BTSport.com, BT Sport app (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.