Forty-eight hours after Juventus was handed its stiffest sporting penalty since the summer of 2006, the Bianconeri played a game. We don’t know what kind of emotions or feelings were going through the minds of the 11 players who took the field against Atalanta last weekend, but you had to assume that there was definitely still some shock as well as anger lingering from what went down before and after Juve received a 15-point penalty.
We’re now over a week clear of said penalty coming down.
And on the cusp of the second half of the 2022-23 season beginning, at the very least we can say now is that the reality — for the time being before an appeal is heard — has set in.
Juventus will begin the second half of the season in 11th place due to the 15-point penalty that was handed down a little over a week ago. Rather than being second place to only a runaway Napoli, Juve needs points more than ever before. We know the end game is to get some kind of European place, but that is very much a tall task to ask of this team that hasn’t exactly been blowing us away in terms of their play of late. Throw into account that we don’t know what’s still to come in terms of off-field sporting decisions and potential punishments and
“We must focus” is what Max Allegri preached during his pre-match press conference on Saturday.
And you know what? He’s pretty much on the money.
Juventus’ players and coaches have no control over what’s going on off the field and how the 15-point penalty appeal or any further sporting sanctions will play out. The only thing they can control is what happens on the field — and that is a very good thing to emphasize during a time where so many things are uncertain or unknown and you can certainly understand how somebody’s mind can wander from one thing to another because everything is swirling at the club.
They can’t control that the 15-point penalty suddenly has then down in a mid-table position level on points with Fiorentina. But what they can control is the fact that they can try to slowly work their way back up the table again. And no matter how cliché it is, that means taking things step by step, one game at a time because there’s no use trying to get ahead of themselves
That means the immediate focus is on Monza.
Obviously the catch in playing Monza is that they were just in Turin a week and a half ago for the Coppa Italia Round of 16 tie that Juventus ended up winning thanks to Federico Chiesa’s stunning second-half strike. It was a step up from how Juve played against Monza in the game before Juve’s domestic winning streak simply because things couldn’t get much worse.
But if Juventus wants to see another winning streak develop into something meaningful — which is pretty much the only way that a European place is reachable — then racking up wins against the likes of Monza and others is where it all starts.
That’s how you control what’s going on on the field. That’s how you try to turn your season around because, out of nowhere, you’re facing a massive points penalty.
- Allegri announced at his pre-match press conference that both Paul Pogba and Dusan Vlahovic will be called up for Monza’s visit to Turin this weekend. For Pogba, it’s the first time he’s been in a matchday squad this season, while Vlahovic has been out since late-October with his groin injury.
- On the Pogba and Vlahovic note, Allegri said “both could feature, although they don’t have more than 30 minutes in them.”
- Federico Chiesa will not be called up for Monza’s trip to Turin due to a minor calif issue in the same leg that he sustained his ACL injury last year. Allegri said Chiesa will be available for Thursday’s Coppa Italia quarterfinal against Lazio.
- Juan Cuadrado and Leonardo Bonucci are still out injured. “Cuadrado is out with an inflamed sciatic nerve and Bonucci is behind with his fitness,” said Allegri.
- Allegri said Weston McKennie will not be a part of the matchday squad as he is finalizing his loan move to Leeds United this weekend.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
If you were to look at the players who had the biggest impact for Juventus during last weekend’s roller coaster ride against Atalanta, most of them were on the attacking side of things. One of Juve’s most dangerous attacking players, however, did not fall into that same kind of category.
That guy would be Filip Kostic, who has not exactly lit the world on fire since the games resumed again earlier this month following the World Cup break. For a guy who went into the World Cup break playing some pretty dang good ball, it hasn’t been the same since he came back from national team duty and put his Juventus jersey back on.
Kostic was one of the top assist men in Serie A when the schedule was paused and everybody turned their attention toward what was going on in Qatar. Since the games resumed, though, Kostic hasn’t had an assist on his record, instead not being able to replicate that quality form that saw him really start to look like the player who had been a force on the left wing in Frankfurt.
With predicted formations saying that Mattia De Sciglio (!!!) could be the one starting on the right wing in Allegri’s 3-5-1-1 formation against Monza, it’s pretty safe to say that Kostic will be leaned on as the main threat out wide to provide offense.
Now, that’s been the case the last few games as well with McKennie starting as a makeshift wingback. But as we saw against Atalanta last weekend, that doesn’t necessarily mean Kostic is going to provide the offense we were hoping he would.
That’s certainly going to have to change against Monza and in the coming weeks in the Coppa Italia and Europa League, too. Hopefully that does start to change for the better on Sunday because we’ve already seen how Kostic’s good form and bombing up and down the left wing can make Juventus a better team.
When: Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023
Where: Allianz Stadium, Turin, 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: TLN (Canada); BT Sport 1, BT Sport Ultimate (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.