For the second consecutive weekend, Juventus has a fiery encounter against a club that doesn’t think all too well about the Bianconeri. Unlike the last time one of these fixtures arrived, it won’t be played in front of the friendly atmosphere that is Allianz Stadium.
Instead of a short trip from team hotel to their home stadium, Juve has their first true big away fixture of the season in store Saturday afternoon, the first of two straight important matchups that will be played away from Turin.
The second of which is very much on the minds of many. But first a trip to Florence and the Franchi — a place that hasn’t exactly been all that kind to Juventus over the last few years — to face Fiorentina is what matters most. And considering how Juve’s up-and-down play has been a main talking point of the first weeks of the 2022-23 season, there are more than a few people who are interested to see what kind of Juve shows up.
“It will be important for us to get some more points on the board, that will also give continuity to Wednesday night’s victory over Spezia,” is how Juve manager Max Allegri described things ahead of the trip to Florence. “We must find solidity in both the defensive and offensive phases.”
Solidarity in all phases of things is most definitely something that Juventus needs. And on a consistent basis, too.
It’s been elusive for chunks of the season to date. It’s pretty well-documented at this point — good to start against Sassuolo, not very good against Sampdoria, a good first 50-60 minutes against Roma and then a complete dud against Spezia this past Wednesday night.
Juventus is very much a team that is searching for consistency right now. And knowing who is lying in wait come Tuesday night in Paris is very much willing to exploit that kind of up and down nature to which Allegri’s squad has played with so far this season.
Juventus will be facing a Fiorentina side that is dealing with its own issues to begin the new season — most notably the fact that the Viola’s attack under Vincenzo Italiano are not firing even close to on all cylinders as compared to much of his first season in Florence.
After its wild 3-2 season-opening win over Serie A newbie Cremonese, Fiorentina has gone three games without scoring against Serie A opposition. That involves a pair of scoreless draws — including one against 10-man Empoli — a 1-0 loss to Udinese in between another scoreless draw against Napoli. While Napoli are very much looking like a top four contender again this season, the other two sides in which Fiorentina has dropped points against aren’t what you would call
You know, kinda like the Sassuolo, Sampdoria and Spezias of the world.
No matter if a certain Serbian striker plays from the start or is rested with the big European opener in a matter of days, the Franchi is definitely going to be turned up to 11 simply because that’s always how it is when Juve comes to Florence.
While it’s a guessing game to know which Juve will show up on a game-to-game basis, this is very much true: If Allegri can get this team playing more like it did against Sassuolo and Roma rather than Sampdoria and Spezia, then the chances of coming away with all three points against Fiorentina and its struggling attack just increase that much more.
All we can ask for is that Juventus can come close to matching the intensity that is going to be in that stadium because there’s few opponents that gets the Franchi rocking like Juve does.
- Federico Chiesa is still out injured.
- Kaio Jorge is still out injured.
- Paul Pogba is still out injured.
- Wojciech Szczesny, all of two games after coming back from a muscle injury, is back on the injury list after suffering an very bad looking ankle injury in the first half against Spezia. Juventus have ruled out any broken bones, but haven’t necessarily outlined a timetable for his return.
- Adrien Rabiot is also new on the injury list after picking up a knock against Spezia, Allegri announced at his pre-match press conference.
- Leonardo Bonucci is back in the squad after missing the last three games. Allegri said he hasn’t decided whether to play Bonucci against Fiorentina or hold off until the trip to France for the Champions League group stage opener against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.
- Leandro Paredes has been called up to the traveling squad. He will be wearing No. 32.
- With Szczesny out, Giovanni Garofani — who was part of the U.S. tour squad — has been called up from Juve’s U-23 team to fill the No. 3 goalkeeper role this weekend (and likely for the next few weeks while Tek rehabs).
- Allegri said Angel Di Maria, who made his return to the squad against Spezia, “is not 100%, but he is better.”
- When asked about potentially resting Dusan Vlahovic ahead of the trip to Paris on Tuesday, Allegri was rather coy in his response. Basically, we won’t know for sure until the starting lineups are announced, but many in the Italian press are thinking Arek Milik will get the start ahead of Vlahovic.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
You’re going to be shocked by this. SHOCKED, I TELL YOU!
Hey, let’s talk about the new guy who is being tipped to make his first Juve appearance this weekend, shall we?
The good thing for Leandro Paredes is that he won’t have to dodge any sort of sprinkler system when he takes the field at the Franchi on Saturday afternoon. Or at least let’s hope so.
Sprinklers or not, the trip to Florence is the game in which pretty much everybody is expecting Paredes to make his full Juventus debut. No coming off the bench for a short 20-minute cameo or anything like that. Right into the starting lineup even though he’s got all of about three training sessions under his belt. And it will be right in the spot in the midfield in which he was brought in to occupy — sitting in front of the defense and hopefully pulling the strings to connect the lines.
And as we’ve been saying pretty much ever since the Paredes rumors started (again), it’s more than just signing a guy who can play as a natural regista.
It’s the trickle-down effect that will hopefully make Juve’s midfield a lot more of a cohesive unit than it has been so far this season and in years prior.
With Paredes now on the roster, Manuel Locatelli should be in a much more natural spot further up the field. And with that, you get two guys who can pass the ball with very good quality occupying two of your three midfield spots.
Obviously, nobody is expecting Paredes to be the saving grace for Juve’s midfield and suddenly turn an inconsistent unit into one of the best in Europe, or even the best in Italy. But all we need to see is improvement over what has basically been the norm for the last three or four years. If Paredes can bring that, then Juve’s midfield as a whole will be better, and that in turn should be able to make the team better as a whole.
Upon speaking of Paredes, Allegri said the Argentine midfielder has “arrived with enthusiasm, he increases our quality.” Now, with some big fixtures upon us in quick succession, we await to see just how much Juve’s quality has increased with Paredes signed, sealed and delivered.
When: Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022.
Where: Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence, Italy.
Official kickoff time: 3 p.m. local time in Italy and around Europe, 2 p.m. in the United Kingdom, 9 a.m. Eastern time, 6 a.m. Pacific time.
HOW TO WATCH
Television: CBS Sports Network (United States).
Online/Streaming: Paramount+ (United States); fuboTV Canada (Canada); 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.