LAS VEGAS — We are just a few hours away from Juventus beginning its summer tour of the United States, with the first game in a three-game slate set for right here in Las Vegas Friday night (8 p.m. local time) against Liga MX side Chivas Guadalajara.
It has been quite the week already, hasn’t it? We’ve seen Juventus sell one of the better young defenders in the game in Matthijs de Ligt only to sign his replacement, Gleison Bremer, within 48 hours of the Dutchman’s deal to Bayern Munich becoming official. Throw in the fact that Juve themselves, Bremer included, have only arrived in the United States less than 24 hours before this post going live and there’s a lot to take in and talk about.
But now, for the first time since Juventus was stumbling in Florence to close out the 2021-22 season, there’s an actual game to talk about again. Not that this means anything in the Serie A table or will have us dissecting the result like something that happens a month or two from now, but it’s Juventus and it’s Juventus playing against somebody that will prepare them for the 2022-23 campaign.
Plus, it’s Las Vegas.
How can you not be excited about Juventus playing in Las Vegas and a stadium like Allegiant Stadium that looks like it’s out of Star Wars or something along those lines.
With Barcelona and Real Madrid laying in wait on the U.S. tour schedule, Friday night’s game against Chivas Guadalajara isn’t going to be the toughest team Juve faces over the next week and a half. But this is the first chance to get a look at what is being sold by the Italian media as the new Juventus, one with more skill and more potential than what we saw a season ago.
While one can argue that preseason friendlies are what they are, getting a first look at what could be in store when it comes to Max Allegri’s line of thinking for some of the new arrivals and the squad as a whole.
What are some of the things yours truly is looking forward to seeing as Juve takes the field in Las Vegas against Chivas? To quote the guy I’m going to be sitting next to in the press box Friday night, let’s cook.
(And don’t forget to follow us on our new BWRAO Instagram page because we’re going to be documenting as much of our travels and time at the Juve-Chivas game as much as possible.)
Federico Gatti’s first (unofficial) game as a Juventus player
This might have been my first thing to mention even before Juventus went out and brought in the Brazilian brickhouse known as Bremer to replace Matthijs de Ligt the day before the team flight to Vegas. And, you know what? We’re going to keep it that way.
Freddie Cats enters his first season with Juventus still as a relative unknown to many of us simply because we’ve never seen him play anywhere other than in Serie B at the club level. OK, nowhere outside of Serie B last season and one Italian national team appearance that went pretty dang well against England.
Chivas won’t be the challenge that going up against Harry Kane and Co. was about six weeks ago, but the fact that Gatti is now making the jump from Serie B to the most storied club in Italy is certainly a big challenge no mater how good he may end up being.
Allegri has been very, very complimentary of Gatti the few times he’s spoken with the media during the preseason. And if Gatti ends up playing anywhere close to how Allegri has described his potential to be during this tour and the first couple of months of the 2022-23 season, then this is going to look like quite the good start to his Juventus career.
With Bremer — more on him in a minute — just being added to the fold, who knows if Allegri will throw him into the deep end from the start with Leonardo Bonucci against Chivas. If not, then it’s either Gatti or Daniele Rugani starting in the center of Juve’s defense. And I dunno about you, but I’m pretty sure who I would like to see get a good run out Friday night in Las Vegas.
The young midfielders who have made the trip
We won’t get to see Fabio Miretti since he’s still on his post-Under-19 Euros vacation, but the other two youngsters in midfield — i.e. the two Nicos — have made the flight to the U.S. and are very much going to be under the spotlight whenever they step on the field.
Considering there’s no Arthur, no Adrien Rabiot and, hell, no Aaron Ramsey for that matter, there’s going to be minutes to be had during the U.S. tour simply because there aren’t a whole lot of other bodies in the midfield. There are plenty of names ahead of them in the pecking order, but Allegri has maintained that this three-game stretch in the United States is going to be a chance for him to evaluate the young players, especially those in midfield.
Both of the Nicos are coming off positive seasons with Genoa and Cremonese, respectively. And for all we know, they could very well be fighting with each other for a spot on the roster. Or maybe it’a a three-man race between the Nicos and Miretti for a chance to sticking around in Turin rather than go out on loan for another season.
We won’t get to see all three make their first case outside of training to stay, but we will see the two Nicos. That’s reason enough to be interested in a late-July friendly, right?
It’s Bremer time
Oh, and this guy is a pretty good reason, too.
Bremer will have officially been a Juventus player for all of two days when things kick off in Vegas on Friday night. It certainly has been a whirlwind week for the guy, and that’s even before his first real thing he did since signing his contract with Juve was to hop on a plane and fly halfway across the world with his new teammates.
But now Bremer is the guy replacing the guy who was a very important player in Juve’s defense. Not to say he’s not up to the task — the dude is the reigning Serie A defender of the season and is arguably one of the two best defenders in all of Italy at the moment.
Now we get to see the first step in what we all hope is a successful Juventus career.
Developing a quick rapport with Bonucci (or whoever else will be playing alongside him both Friday night and the rest of the U.S. tour) is going to be crucial for Juve’s hopes to have about the opposite start this coming season than they did last year. Plus, you know, it would help for Bremer to incorporate himself quick so that things aren’t a total disaster at the back.
And come on — just look at the dude in the photo at the top of this post. If he looks anywhere close to as good on the field as he does in Juve’s training kick, then we’re set.
The other new guys
Yes, it’s taken me this long to mention Paul Pogba and Ángel Di Maria by name. But that’s OK because they’ve gotten plenty of face time on the blog over the last couple of weeks, and they’re most definitely going to get plenty of face time once these fixtures actually count in the Serie A table.
Ah, but this is the first chance to see what Allegri has in store for them.
Of course, it doesn’t seem all that hard to figure that one out. Pogba very much looks to be slotting into a left-center mid spot in a three-man midfield while Di Maria is the defacto top playmaker on the wings until Federico Chiesa — who’s back in Turin continuing his work toward a mid-September return — returns to the starting lineup on a full-time basis.
It’s not the positioning or the tactical setup that will be of interest. It will simply be what these two world-class talents who have a little something to prove show us and how they can potentially change things for the better.
Not that the be-all, end-all will come on this tour of the United States. But with this the first chance to see Di Maria in a Juve shirt and Friday night being the unofficial return of Pogba to the starting lineup, there’s going to be plenty of the focus on the new guys not named Bremer.
Each of them bring with them hopes of what could be — Pogba being a much-needed piece in a midfield that has struggled for years and Di Maria (no matter how little time he might actually be at Juve) providing plenty of creativity and service out wide to help Dusan Vlahovic have more success. As much as the youngsters might have us brimming with some sort of optimism, these two veterans are going to be be crucial to Juve’s success this coming season.