The Serie A schedule makers have given us a few noticeable trends so far this season when it comes to how things look for Juventus coming out of international breaks. As we know, there have been two very big games right upon Juve’s returns, with Lazio in September and AC Milan at the San Siro last weekend. There’s another piece to the puzzle, though — and that’s who is next up that next weekend after each of those big games.
In September, it was Sassuolo ... and we don’t need to be reminded about how that went.
Now, that game after the big games shifts to Turin, as Juventus welcomes another one of Serie A’s struggling side — and one that is arguably playing about as anybody in the league.
By the time Juventus takes the field and lines up against Hellas Verona on Saturday night, the visitors will have gone nearly two whole months since their last win. And it’s wild to think about this is the same Hellas Verona team that won back-to-back games to open the 2023-24 season — and that is not a typo. This is very much the chance for Juventus to extend a struggling side’s woes and roll right on in to another big away fixture — this time in Florence against Fiorentina — next weekend.
So, with all of that being said, let’s just provide a little bit more context to the situation and look at Hellas’ form the last six games, shall we? Here it is:
- Scoreless draw vs. Bologna
- 1-0 loss to AC Milan and Atalanta
- Scoreless draw vs. Torino
- Losses to (Matias Soule and) Frosinone and, this past weeeknd, Napoli
You can probably see where I’m going with this ...
Can you see the object being constructed in the distance? It is The Trap. You know, the thing that Juventus has fallen into from time to time when they go from picking up a big three points against a big club — although not so much the last few years — and then faced a much, much lower quality of opponent a few days later. Hellas Verona are, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, nowhere near as good as Milan. But, much like after Juve’s big win over Lazio to come out of the last international break, there’s a struggling side lying in wait for Max Allegri’s squad to slip up against.
Translation: Hellas Verona are not a good team.At all.
Sidenote to the translation: Those two points that Hellas has earned in their last six games is joint-bottom in all of Serie A along with Salernitana and Cagliari. Both of those teams sit in 19th and 20th place, respectively. Hellas Verona is pretty close in 16th place, all of two outside of the relegation zone.
The most interesting part of the night is how Max Allegri is going to play all of this. Do we get the same defense-first approach that we’ve seen a lot of (again) lately, and especially so in the win over a Milan team that played 50-plus minutes with 10 men? Or does Allegri, as his most important attacking players are getting healthy again, choose to be a little more expansive and doesn’t play as low of a block against a Hellas Verona team that has scored ... six goals all season.
I can tell you which the sold-out crowd that is expected at the Allianz Stadium on Saturday night probably wants to see. I can tell you what I want to see. But it’s not about us. It’s about Max and what he decides to do against one of the worst teams in the league and a sure-fire relegation battler come a few months from now.
Considering the difficulties that come with the trips to Florence these days, Juventus simply needs to take care of business against Hellas Verona and not let anything close to a repeat of the Sassuolo mess occur. That is both from a tactical point of view and a deal where your players don’t turn into pumpkins and suddenly forget the simple things of their jobs.
This is a game in which Juventus should win and win with room to spare regardless of the absent players. That’s more because of how Hellas are playing more than Juventus, but with another big game lying in wait next weekend, Juve needs to do some good things this weekend to ensure there’s no sort of panic before they go rolling into the land of Rocco Commisso and all Viola everything.
- Paul Pogba still suspended and awaiting the hearing regarding his failed doping test.
- Nicolo Fagiol is now his second week of being suspended for gambling. Fagioli was sitting in the tribuna at the San Siro last weekend — which is a good sight to see considering how much Juventus has expressed their support as he gets treatment for his gambling addiction.
- Two of Juventus’ three Brazilian defenders, Danilo and Alex Sandro, are still out injured.
- Also out injured: Mattia De Sciglio, who still has an unknown return date after knee surgery.
- At his pre-match press conference, Max Allegri said that both Dusan Vlahovic and Federico Chiesa — who both only could start on the bench against Milan last weekend — “had a good week” of training.
- Allegri said Weston McKennie “can be important” against Hellas Verona.
- Allegri said that he has one doubt when it comes to his starting lineup and it’s on the left wing, with Andrea Cambiaso potentially coming back into the starting lineup and replace Filip Kostic. Allegri said another option on the left, Samuel Iling-Junior, “is definitely improving.”
- Next Gen midfielder Joseph Nonge will again be in the matchday squad after his promotion to the senior team in the wake of Fagioli’s seven-month suspension that will essentially rule him out for the rest of the season.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
I know, I know. Mr. Max said that this spot in the starting lineup is probably the one that is giving his decision making muscles the most work, but let’s go with it anyways.
That means, we’ll talk about the guy who has started more often on the left wing lately.
The trip to the San Siro was not a great one for Filip Kostic. Heck, this season has not exactly been all that great for Filip Kostic, somebody who maybe had a little bit of doubt that he would still be a Juventus player at this point of the season based on how the last few weeks of the summer transfer window was trending.
The thing is, even though Kostic has all of one assist through his first 345 minutes of the 2023-24 season, some of the advanced metrics say that he is having just as good of a season as he did a year ago. Expected assists per 90 minutes? The same. Expected goals+assists? The same.
But here’s the one difference: Kostic’s goal created actions per 90 is about half of what it was during his first season at Juventus. Now, obviously that is a full season compared to a handful of games, but the fact that he isn’t being directly involved in as many goals when his No. 1 thing is to serve up crosses and create scoring chances shows that thing aren’t going as well as last season. (Other than simply your eyes telling you it’s been a bit rough.)
Kostic’s performance against Milan was not very good, and the early second-half sub in favor of Andrea Cambiaso was completely understandable. If it ends uo being Cambiaso who starts over Kostic, then you have to think the roles will be flipped and it’s going to be the Serbian who’s in position to play right out of the halftime break if need be if the other struggles.
So, either way, it feels like we’re going to get Kostic at some point. And you know what would be great? Seeing a Kostic who is one of the best assist men in Serie A showing his face again. That does sound nice.
When: Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023.
Where: Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy.
Official kickoff time: 8:45 p.m. in Italy and the Central European time zone, 7:45 p.m. in the United Kingdom, 2:45 p.m. Eastern time, 1:45 a.m. Pacific time.
HOW TO WATCH
Television: TNT Sports 1 (United Kingdom); Sky Sport Calcio, Sky Sport UnoSky Sport 251, Sky Sport 4K (Italy).
Online/Streaming: Paramount+, CBS Sports Golazo (United States); fuboTV Canada (Canada); discovery+, discovery+ app (United Kingdom); DAZN Italia, 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.