There are a couple of different ways to approach the next two fixtures on the calendar for Max Allegri and his Juventus squad.
- Juve are about to face two of the worst teams in Serie A and that should mean that six points are coming the Bianconeri’s way if they just take care of business.
- Juve are about to face two of the worst teams in Serie A, which means they are about to line up against a pair of relegation battlers who are going to be fighting to avoid the drop down to Italy’s second division knowing there’s just four games left this season.
Those two situations probably have some sort of commonalities because when you’re facing a club that is in or just outside of the relegation zone, there’s a pretty good reason why they’re there at this point of the season. (Hint: they’re not good.)
That is very much the case when last-place Venezia, a team that has lost eight straight games and is on the brink of being unable to save their Serie A status, comes to Turin this weekend for Sunday’s lunchtime kickoff. Juventus, far from at full strength again this weekend, can get one step closer to wrapping up a top four finish with a win over Venezia, who just so happened to get a point against Allegri’s side in Venice back in early December. (But hey, they arrived on a boat, so there’s that!)
The situation against Venezia is very much the same kind of one that Allegri has been faced with for months now with a good portion of the squad — including some of his best players — out injured. It’s just simply preventing anything seriously bad from happening.
That’s not exactly what Juventus did the first time they played Venezia by the ocean.
So, even with all of the injuries that Allegri is again dealing with this weekend, that is the main goal.
Juventus needs six points to wrap up, at minimum, a fourth-place finish this season. And with 20th-place Venezia and 19th-place Genoa next up on the schedule over the next five days, this is the chance to do just that. With Napoli blowing Sassuolo out of the water earlier in the day Saturday, there’s no opportunity to jump into third with a win over Venezia this weekend, so it’s very much just keeping things status quo for at least one more round.
Getting a top four finish has been something that Allegri has been pounding into all of our minds for weeks, if not months now. But now that it’s within reach, it’s pretty clear that he wants to get it out of the way as quick as humanly possible. That means two wins in the next two games, right?
“Now though, let’s think about qualification for the Champions League next season and performing well in the Italian Cup final.”
That is the second part of a quote that started out with Allegri talking about which game he would want to do over. (I think you can probably guess which one that is — it involves the Champions League, an opponent that wears all yellow from Spain and a home performance that was first frustrating before it quickly shifted to completely disappointing.)
But the above text remains true — Juventus need to focus on qualifying for the Champions League next season and then the Coppa Italia. With the chance to get that first one out of the way before lining up against Inter for another trophy in a one-off, these next two games are going to be both ones that Juve are heavy favorites in as well as going to manage well.
If not, then these two relegation battlers may put a kink in what Allegri wants to see play out over the course of the next week.
- The main injuries are still the same names: Federico Chiesa, Weston McKennie, Kaio Jorge and Manuel Locatelli.
- At his pre-match press conference, Allegri said Locatelli and McKennie are both “working well” and hopes to have both of them back before the end of the season.
- Also on the injured list: Juan Cuadrado and Mattia De Sciglio. Cuadrado should be available for Friday’s game against Genoa, according to Allegri.
- After missing the last few weeks due to injury, Arthur is back in the squad, although he will almost certainly start on the bench against Venezia.
- Danilo trained away from the group the last few days but was back with the group for Saturday’s training session. He will be available for Sunday afternoon’s game, according to Allegri.
- Dusan Vlahovic is expected to return to the starting lineup after getting some rest Monday.
- Fabio Miretti and Marley Aké have been called up from the Under-23 squad to provide some depth in midfield and on the wings.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
The unfortunate thing about the last few weeks is that we’ve gotten more and more photos like the one below because the last few weeks have not all been that great for Dusan Vlahovic.
Therefore, let’s talk about Dusan.
On the surface, Vlahovic hasn’t been terrible lately. He’s got three goals in his last six games, which is not exactly the pace he was on earlier this season but certainly one that no other Juventus player can exactly boast about these days.
But, this is Dusan Vlahovic we’re talking about here.
You know, the dude who was brought in to start getting Juve’s attack back on track.
Vlahovic’s frustrations are obvious these days. It didn’t take him long after coming against Sassuolo to start reacting like the photo above to a potential foul that wasn’t called by the referee. The scoring chances haven’t necessarily been there like he’s accustomed to. And he’s definitely — and this might be the biggest thing of them all — is just getting absolutely beat the hell up by opposing defenders each and every time the ball is either at his feet or even coming coming his direction.
His role as a No. 9 at Juve is very much a different one than when he was in Florence. This is not a free-flowing attack like Vincenzo Italiano wanted and mostly achieved before Vlahovic made his way to Turin at the end of the January transfer window.
Not that he’s not capable of doing what Allegri wants, but it’s clearly going to come with different things attached to it than what was the case at Fiorentina. Like, you know, having defenders be physical all hell with you as you play with your back to goal.
But knowing what is still on the line over these last few weeks of the 2021-22 season, it sure would be nice for Vlahovic to hit a nice little groove again before the final whistle sounds, ironically, in Florence three weeks from now.
When: Sunday, May 1, 2022.
Where: Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy.
Official kickoff time: 12:30 p.m. local time in Italy and around Europe, 11:30 a.m. in the United Kingdom, 6:30 a.m. Eastern time, 3:30 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.