We are on the cusp of another international break, folks. I know how exciting that is considering international breaks of late have usually resulted in some sort of Juventus off-field crisis that nobody saw coming and wanted to suddenly be thrust into the spotlight.
But before we can get to the next potential crisis, there’s one last game to be played before the November international break.
Capping off the four-game run where good teams and bad teams alternate as Juventus opponents, here comes one of Serie A’s newly promoted sides — and an old friend on the sidelines — to take us into the break. Mind you, Claudio Ranieri and Cagliari are not in as bad of a shape as they were a few weeks ago, as they roll into Turin on a three-game winning run in all competitions (two in Serie A and one in the Coppa Italia sandwiched in between), the first of those back-to-back victories in league play coming in wild comeback fashion against Matias Soulé and Frosinone. (Did somebody say Soulé? Hey, we talked about that young fella on loan from Juventus on the podcast this week!)
But this is still a case where it’s a Juventus team that sits on second place facing a team that is now just outside of the relegation zone — which, as we sit here now nearly two weeks into November, is probably becoming more of an issue than it would have been in August or September.
Both Max Allegri and Cristiano Giuntoli have been hammering home the point for weeks now that the main goal of the season is to finish in the top four. It’s not about competing for the Scudetto even though Juve’s just a couple of points behind league leaders Inter. So, from that point of view, things are going quite well right now. The three straight 1-0 wins and the way in which a couple of them have come about might rub some supporters the wrong way, but Juventus are winning games that they might not have the last couple of years under Allegri no matter how much he tried the same style of football.
Knowing who is lying in wait coming out of the international break, this weekend is about one thing and one thing only — making sure you don’t screw anything up as you head into the break. No dropped points. None. Anything less than a win and three points and it’s a complete failure. Would style points be great? Sure, why the hell not. But when you’re game after your next game is against the only team that’s ahead of you in the standings, the last thing you need to do is go out there and lay an egg against a likely relegation battler that only has a couple of wins to their name as we roll into the second weekend of November.
Whether it’s a fourth straight 1-0 win or something different that involves a little more breathing room and maybe a little less walking a tight rope, Allegri knows Juve can’t slip up because, as he said, “we have the possibility of keeping the gap from fifth in the standings at least intact, but also to close this cycle of five matches between the two international breaks in the best possible way.”
Translation: Don’t screw up all of the good work you’ve done lately, gang. Why? Because at worst you can keep things exactly like they are with the Serie A table and go into the break with the chance to go into the lead right out of the international break.
That’s a pretty appealing option to have no matter the tactical setup that is being used these days. (And it would only see the Scudetto talk increased no matter what Allegri says, but that’s OK considering the alternative.)
- Paul Pogba and Nicolo Fagioli — still suspended for their respective off-field issues.
- Adrien Rabiot can also be thrown into the “suspended” group for this weekend, as he will miss out on Saturday’s game due to yellow card accumulation.
- Out injured: Danilo, Timothy Weah, Alex Sandro and Mattia De Sciglio, who is set to resume partial training with the group at some point next month, according to Max Allegri.
- With Rabiot suspended and his two Brazilians out injured, Allegri said that Manuel Locatelli — who signed a contract extension through 2028 on Thursday — will wear the captain’s armband against Cagliari.
- Allegri has said that Federico Gatti will play against Cagliari despite the fact the Italian defender is one yellow card away from suspension would miss the Derby d’Italia if he is cautioned this weekend.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
Despite all of the players missing due to one reason or another, there’s still a lot of ways in which we can go with this. At least that’s how it looked like on La Gazzetta dello Sport’s predicted lineup graphic on Thursday. But after Allegri spoke with the media the next day, that same spicy kind of predicted lineup didn’t exactly have the same kick to it.
So let’s just go ahead and talk about somebody who seems very likely to play even if we’re not totally sure where he’s actually going to play.
There are basically two options as to where Andrea Cambiaso will find himself when Allegri lets his players know the starting lineup (if they haven’t talked about it already):
- Out wide on the right as a wingback as Weston McKennie shifts inside like he did a few weeks ago against AC Milan.
- Or, as a makeshift mezalla on either side of Manuel Locatelli as McKennie plays out on the right as a wingback where he has been surprisingly very good this season.
Considering how much Cambiaso cuts inside and likes to play combinations with the two strikers up front, I’m not sure how much different those two positions are going to be when Juventus are in the attacking phase of the game. It’s defensively where Cambiaso is certainly more familiar with being out wide rather than having a wingback on the right or left of him.
He obviously got a taste of it last weekend against Fiorentina as Juve held onto the 1-0 lead that they never gave up. That probably isn’t going to be the case against a Cagliari side that is not exactly lighting the world on fire goal-wise even with their big comeback against Frosinone a couple of weeks ago. Or at least we hope it is, which would give Cambiaso a little more freedom to go forward and show his skills in the attacking third.
In a way it would be intriguing to see him play inside since we don’t exactly see that happen much. It would also be pretty interesting to see what he could on the right wing knowing that Filip Kostic has taken a bulk of the playing time on the left as of late.
No matter what, though, injuries and suspensions have opened up an opportunity for Cambiaso to show just how versatile he can be. And wouldn’t a nice performance against Cagliari be a good thing to see happen after getting a call-up to the Italian national team? I think it would!
When: Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023.
Where: Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy.
Official kickoff time: 6 p.m. in Italy and the Central European time zone, 5 p.m. in the United Kingdom, 12 p.m. Eastern time, 9 a.m. Pacific time.
HOW TO WATCH
Television: TNT Sports 2 (United Kingdom).
Online/Streaming: Paramount+ (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.