Juventus’ fixture list between the October and November international breaks has a very distinct look to out. Of course, there’s no European fixtures midweek — which sucks because of everything that has transpired over the last 12 months or so. But the trend is very simple to figure out ...
Big away fixture then back home to face one of Serie A’s true relegation battlers. Then after you face the second half of those first two games out of the international break, you know what you do? Well, you do it again.
Two weeks after the trip to Milan, Juventus now heads out on the road again. This time it’s to Florence, where the Tuscany region has been dealing with a whole lot of real-life BS in the days leading up to Juve’s visit to the Artemio Franchi. And not only is it coming at a time in which it’s basically forced Fiorentina ultras to decide between life and football since Serie A has decided to go on with things Sunday night, but it will cause a usual cauldron-like atmosphere at the Franchi to be a little less like that. In “normal” times (if those even exist anymore in the year 2023), a Juve-Fiorentina matchup where both clubs enter the weekend in the top six would be the one of the most anticipated matchups of the season.
And it still very much is. But you also must acknowledge that there are very valid reasons as to why the Franchi will be a little less of a madhouse as it usually is when Juve comes to town — and with it the homefield advantage that Fiorentina might have may not be as beneficial as in the last few visits to Florence.
The way things have gone for Juventus and Fiorentina coming out of the October international break have been quite different. At least from a results perspective, that is. Juventus have won both of their games. Fiorentina, meanwhile, have lost both of their games, albeit with a Conference League win in blowout fashion thrown in there. They have been two very different kinds of wins for Juve event though they’ve resulted in the same 1-0 scoreline. (We’re still looking at you, VAR, for all of your nonsense last weekend.)
So, while Max Allegri’s squad is clearly shorthanded and working with limited options in a few very noticeable positions, they’ve been able to deal with the adversity about as well as you could have asked for. The only hope, of course, is that they can keep things going against a team that will be playing a very different kind of game than Allegri will likely employ when they take the field Sunday night.
As we discussed on the midweek preview podcast with friend of the blog Tito from Viola Nation, Fiorentina’s problems are very much the same kind of problems as they dealt with last season — La Viola are creating scoring chances, it’s just about their players not converting those opportunities. That has resulted in a team like Juventus, who has played a very defense-first approach ever since the disaster against Sassuolo, still having nearly as many goals (16) than that of Vincenzo Italiano’s Fiorentina (18).
How that plays into Juventus’ hands still remains to be seen. But when you consider that Juve are playing pretty well defensively post-Sassuolo, a game where Fiorentina’s attackers are frustrated to all hell might be something that Allegri prefers rather than an Italiano special where it’s end-to-end stuff for much of the 90 minutes.
No matter what, though, this is another chance for Juventus to solidify their early standing as a top four contender. With AC Milan being on the losing end of Udinese’s first win of the 2023-24 season Saturday night, there’s now the chance to get some breathing room between second and third place (no matter who’s there at the end of the day) if Juve are to win in Florence. Plus, there’s just the simple fact of not allowing Inter to open up a very comfortable lead atop the Serie A table even before we hit the November international break.
Yeah, yeah, yeah ... I know I’m not supposed to look at the table early on the in the season, Max. But you know what? I am and plenty of other people are, too. So if there’s the chance to stay in second place and four points clear of third place by the time the final whistle sounds Sunday night, then you better damn well know what kind of chance that is.
And that’s especially true when you consider who’s on the schedule next weekend (another relegation battler) and then after the next international break ends (the current Serie A leaders). It’s almost like there’s a trend with the fixture list this season or something ...
- Paul Pogba is still suspended.
- Nicolo Fagioli is still suspended.
- Alex Sandro is still out injured.
- Danilo is still out injured and has reportedly suffered a setback in his recovery.
- Allegri said, at this point, he expected Sandro to return to the squad before Danilo. The hope is, however, that Danilo is back for the Derby d’Italia right after the international break, according to Allegri.
- Allegri noted that Juve’s longest injury absence, Mattia De Sciglio, will start training with the team again at some point in December.
- Timothy Weah became the latest name added to the injury list, with the American winger likely out until after the international break due to a muscle injury.
- Allegri said at his pre-match press conference that “will likely” mean Weston McKennie slides back out onto the right wing to play in the wingback spot, meaning Fabio Miretti will be in the line to start in midfield.
- As he looks at another potential start alongside Dusan Vlahovic, Moise Kean was described as being “in a great place” by Allegri.
- Allegri said that he still has yet to decide who starts in attack against Fiorentina.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
One former Fiorentina player who now plays for Juventus is the main photo for this preview.
Another former Fiorentina who now plays for Juventus is going to be the one we talk about here. Yeah, we’re taking the easy way out on this who — and who can blame me?
As much as the Italian media is convinced that things are very much up in the air when it comes to who Allegri is going to start up front Sunday night — and his words at his pre-match press conference are certainly fueling that — you gotta believe that if Dusan Vlahovic is feeling good and healthy then Dusan Vlahovic is going to play.
This wouldn’t be the first return to Florence since his big-money move to Juventus now nearly two full years ago. We got that out of the way within a few weeks of Vlahovic signing with Juve. But that doesn’t Fiorentina supporters have suddenly forgotten the manner in which Vlahovic left the club they root for and the club he joined at the same time.
When it comes to Vlahovic’s on-field production, it’s obviously been slowed ever since he picked up a back injury last month. If I were to ask you if you remember the last time Vlahovic found the back of the net, is that something you’d know without having to look it up?
Well, in case you need reminding, here you go: Vlahovic’s last goal was Sept. 16 in the big win over Lazio. By the time Juve takes the field against Fiorentina, that’s going to be 50 days since he last scored a goal.
There’s more than one factor in that, but the optimistic viewpoint is that with Vlahovic returning to the starting lineup last weekend against Hellas Verona then there’s hopefully some good things just around the corner. And if that happens against Fiorentina ... in Florence ... then Juve’s chances of heading back to Turin with three points just got that much more of a possbility.
When: Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023.
Where: Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence, 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, 11:45 a.m. Pacific time.
HOW TO WATCH
Television: CBS Sports Network (United States); TLN (Canada); TNT Sports 1 (United Kingdom).
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.