The result of Saturday’s game between Juventus and Roma was a disappointing one. That said, there were a lot of things about it that could be viewed as major positives.
For the first hour or so, Juventus played some really good, proactive football. They pressed like maniacs, especially in the game’s early phases, and effectively sealed Roma into their own half for large portions of the first period. It was the kind of play that we’ve seen very little of over the last few years. They couldn’t keep it up over 90 minutes, because no one can, but it was a massive step forward from the disaster that unfolded against Sampdoria a week before.
But now they need to do it again.
It’s a tale we’ve heard so often over the last three or four years. Juve would play a magnificent game, only to recede back into the doldrums over the next few, dashing any hope that the fans had built up out of that good performance.
That trend needs to be reversed, and it needs to start on Wednesday against Spezia. The Aquilotti are looking to extend their stay in Serie A again after spending their first season back in the top flight hovering just above a relegation battle that they never truly got sucked into. They finished six points above the drop and were never below 16th place after the middle of January. The core of that team is back, with enhancements like goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski and Milan loanee Daniel Maldini. They played Juve close in both games last year. Juve had to come from behind twice to win 3-2 in Spezia in September before the return saw Juve go ahead early through Alvaro Morata and then hold out for a 1-0 lead. But regardless how pesky they can be, there is no excuse for Juventus to drop points out of this game, especially at home. If they’re to finally use this game to confirm a positive trend, though, one thing is going to have to change.
The unfortunate part about games like Saturday’s is that has been an unfortunate trend on the rare occasions we have seen games like it, namely that Juventus have often contrived to drop points in them. We saw it against Inter and Atalanta last year, when the team played some of their best football of the season only to fail to win for one very simple reason: not creating enough quality chances to score. Dominance is only truly worth it if you score enough goals to win games. Saturday’s most recent example was a case in point: Juve had an amazing first half, but only had three shots on target during those 45 minutes, and only one of those came from open play. The other two were direct free kicks.
That lack of chance creation has become a bugaboo for Juventus in the last year, having dropped from runaway leaders in that category under Andrea Pirlo to barely in the top 10 in the first season of Massimiliano Allegri’s second tenure. The final step before we can really say that this team has taken a step forward is for that metric to tick up. If Juve can pair the style of play we saw for most of the Roma game and score enough to settle things early, then maybe this team can make the kind of noise people were hoping for in the run up to the season.
- The long-term injury list remains the same: Federico Chiesa, Kaio Jorge, Paul Pogba.
- Max Allegri said in his pre-match press conference that Angel Di Maria will not start but will be available from the bench.
- Nicolo Fagioli will also be available after a minor injury concern.
- Leonardo Bonucci will not play on Wednesday but is on track to be ready for Fiorentina at the weekend.
- Allegri still seems to think that it’s an open question as to whether Arkadiusz Milik and Dusan Vlahovic can play together. Should we tell him?
- Allegri confirmed that Nicolo Rovella is going to Monza on loan for the season. He also all but confirmed that Fagioli will be staying.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
What do you know, you play the talented young kid and good things happen!
Fabio Miretti was undeniably the best player on the field for Juventus against Roma. His effect on the midfield was palpable in every way. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a midfielder whose first instinct is to receive the ball and immediately push it upfield. The fact that Miretti does that—and does it efficiently without giving in to the temptation of trying a Hollywood pass—at the age of 19 beggars belief.
Allegri was measured in his response to questions about the youngster in his press conference, praising his performance but also claiming that he’ll need rest too as we enter the frenetic phase of the season and also making a weird comment about essentially trying to keep his head on his shoulders. Such is life when you’re a young player under Allegri—you never get the sense that you’re fully trusted. But Allegri’s assertion that “If players are good, they play” needs to come with an acknowledgement that Fabio Miretti is good—and that he needs to be a big part of the midfield this season.
Until Paul Pogba gets back on the field again or Leandro Paredes arrives and takes over the regista position so that Manuel Locatelli can move into a better spot, Miretti is the biggest creative force in the midfield. Miretti has proven at this point that he belongs. Now it’s time to let him do his thing.
When: Wednesday, August 31, 2022.
Where: Allianz Stadium, Turin, 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 Eastern time, 11:45 Pacific time.
HOW TO WATCH
Television: TLN (Canada), BT Sport 2 (United Kingdom), Sky Sport 4K, Sky Sport Calcio (Italy).
Online/Streaming: Paramount+ (United States); fuboTV Canada (Canada); 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.