And now, we head back to Serie A.
That is a place that has been a total mixed bag for both performances and results. But it is definitely a place in which Juventus needs to start getting things going in earnest because this is very much the time of year last season in which Juve was forced to play catchup as the rest of the pack pulls away.
So here on the schedule lies the opponent in which Juventus has seen more often than not through the first month of the 2022-23 season. For every quality opponent like Roma and Fiorentina, there has been a potential relegation battler both before and after said big fixture. This time around, after Juventus faced Fiorentina (and Paris Saint-Germain if you want to be all technical about it) they now welcome a Salernitana side that has started the new campaign relatively well considering they barely avoided the drop to Serie B last year.
And for every decent showing that Juventus has put out there, there’s been something that has either derailed that potential momentum-building moment — the midfield, the manager, the tactics — from truly becoming some sort of thing that goes beyond any singular game or half of play.
We said it after Juve’s friendly of the summer. We said it after Juve’s season-opening win over Sassuolo. We said it after the first half against Roma. And now we say it again following Juve’s second-half improvements in Paris earlier in the week.
Will Juventus actually be able to build on the good things that they did in the previous outing?
Every time we’ve asked that type of question so far this season, the answer has seemingly been a resounding “hell no.” And that’s one of the many unfortunate parts of the 2022-23 season to date — just when it looks like Juve might be kicking things into gear even just a little bit, things revert back to what we saw so many times last season. Maybe the most disheartening part is that those steps backwards haven’t always happened against quality opposition. And when you categorize Juve’s opponents into two main pots — like, you know, good teams and bad teams — there’s definitely been more potential relegation battlers compared to those who, at least domestically, will challenge for hardware.
So while Juventus and Salernitana are technically separated by only three points in the table, the gulf in overall squad quality is evident. That very fact is about as obvious as there can be in this game.
Well, unless a 35-year-old Antonio Candreva or 39-year-old Franck Ribery still has you suffering from night sweats or something along those lines because you’re scared about what they’re about to do to Juve’s defense. (Although, to be fair, with Juve’s fullbacks you never really know.)
Compared to how much of last season went for Salernitana, their beginning to the 2022-23 campaign has gone relatively good. They’ve gotten a result in their last four games, including a 4-0 thumping of Sampdoria two weeks ago. (Hey, that’s a lot more goals than Juventus scored against Sampdoria!) They’ve gotten the same amount of points over the last four games as Max Allegri’s squad — which, again, is more of a reflection of how inconsistent Juve’s been than anything else.
So, when push comes to shove, we are still waiting for Juventus to find some semblance of consistency of just continue on their way of being a team that is good for 45 or 60 minutes at a time and the rest is other a complete guessing game or a complete slog.
At this point, who the heck knows which option it’s going to be.
- Federico Chiesa is still out injured. The mid-September return date that Allegri told us about before the U.S. tour began isn’t exactly looking like it’s going to happen, is it?
- Regarding Chiesa’s return, Allegri said during his pre-match press conference that the Italian winger “is working on the field alone and we hope to have him back at 100% before the break for the World Cup.”
- Paul Pogba is now amongst the long-term injury names after he ditched the original treatment plan on his injured meniscus to undergo knee surgery earlier this week.
- Kaio Jorge is the other long-term injury absence. We’re still not sure when he will be back on the field, be it with the senior squad or the Under-23 team.
- Wojciech Szczesny is still out injured, per Allegri.
- Angel Di Maria will be out against Salernitana, but Allegri said he expects the Argentine back for Juve’s big matchup against Benfica on Wednesday night.
- Manuel Locatelli has joined the injury list due to some muscle fatigue, according to Allegri.
- Allegri said he is undecided as to whether he wants to play Arek Milik and Dusan Vlahovic together up front like he did against Paris Saint-Germain midweek.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
In this place, we have focused a lot on Juventus’ midfield so far this season. That is a lot like we did the season before that. And, if this particular part of match previews went back even longer than that, then I’m sure it would be a topic of discussion even when Miralem Pjanic was awesome and Sami Khedira wasn’t the reason J Medical came to be. (There is no truth to that second part, methinks, but feel free to confirm or deny.)
So who’s ready to talk about Juventus’ midfield — or at least a midfielder — yet again this time around?
YOU PUT YOUR HAND UP. YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT JUVE’S MIDFIELD AGAIN.
This is very much going with what the predicted lineups are telling us all Sunday morning, so if Nicolo Fagioli does get his first start of the season then I have the likes of Sky Italia and La Gazzetta dello Sport to thank for that.
Fact is, though, the probability of Fagioli getting his first start of the season has been growing pretty consistently over the course of the weekend.
A lot of that has to do with Allegri using a matchup against a potential bottom-of-the-table side like Salernitana — yes, not bottom of the table now, but certainly with all of the credentials you look for — to rotate the squad in between very important Champions League fixtures. That means somebody like Fagioli, who has barely played so far this season after seeing a lot of the field during the summer friendlies, can certainly take advantage of the opportunity.
Fagioli, much like Nicolo Rovella, had been rumored to be heading out on loan toward the end of the summer transfer window. But unlike Rovella, Fagioli actually stuck around. That hasn’t resulted in any kind of sudden rush of playing time as the likes of Leandro Paredes and Fabio Miretti have been thrust into the starting lineup in recent weeks. And as Miretti has mostly impressed since stepping into a bigger role with Paul Pogba out, it’s been about patience when it’s come to Fagioli.
This, however, could be Nicky Beans’ day to potentially shine.
And if it is — with rumors that Miretti could also start with Fagioli in Juve’s midfield — then we could see two of the better youth products to come through this club on the same field at once for the first time from the start in a meaningful game.
I don’t know about you guys, but that sounds like a pretty cool thing to me.
When: Sunday, Sept. 11, 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 p.m. Eastern time, 11:45 a.m. Pacific time.
HOW TO WATCH
Television: TLN (Canada); BT Sport 1 (United Kingdom).
Online/Streaming: Paramount+ (United States); fuboTV Canada (Canada); BT Sport app, BTSport.com (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.