In the past, there have been games like the Juventus are about to play. They are the ones in which Juve and a provincial side in Italy have struck up a very good working relationship, thus leading to the former sending some talented players on loan to the latter and then we get to see what they can do with a more prominent role than what they would have had in Turin.
For the 2023-24 season, that team has become Frosinone — and it’s very much the kind of situation in which Juventus has seen those players do quite well during their time away from Continassa.
And, guess who’s up on the schedule a couple of days before Christmas?
Yep, you guessed it.
While I have yet to see the front page of an Italian sports daily like Tuttosport ahead of Saturday afternoon’s lunchtime matchup against Frosinone, I can already pretty much assume what it will involve. There will probably be a reference or two Matias Soulé played up all big and fancy, with Juve’s on-loan Argentine prominently featured because of what he has done so far this season and who he is about to play this weekend. There’s a good chance that Enzo Barrenechea makes an appearance, too, knowing that he is having a solid season at Frosinone as well. Hey, maybe even Dean Huijsen gets some love on the front page of Tuttosport knowing that he’s about to become the fourth Juve youngster who will head to Frosinone on loan, this one being for the second half of the 2023-24 season.
It’s all in play because Frosinone has certainly become, in a way looking through things with baseball-related glasses, Juventus’ top farm club where almost all of the top prospects are (or will be shortly).
Because of the season he is currently having, Soulé is going to get a lot of the attention — and rightfully so! — heading into this Saturday lunchtime matchup that would have been played on a Sunday if not for Christmas Eve landing during that day of the week. (We will talk more about him a little later.) But this is a trip to Frosinone for Juventus in which getting back on track — or, in simpler terms, getting back to winning — is pretty important considering they’re really the only team in Serie A that’s within shouting distance of Inter.
Last Friday’s performance against Genoa was not good. Not good at all. It brought to the fore a whole lot of the same issues that have hindered this team for the better part of the last three or four years when it comes to trying to break opponents down and finishing the few chances that they did have.
Could facing a Frosinone team that has allowed 26 goals in 16 league games help change things for the better? Maybe, but this is also a Frosinone side that is coming off dumping the reigning Italian champions, Napoli, out of the Coppa Italia with a 4-0 win just a couple of days ago. (And if Juve get past Salernitana in their round of 16 tie, then it’s another Juve-Frosinone matchup to add to the schedule in the quarterfinals.)
And it’s a Frosinone side that will play the way they want to no matter the opposition.
Frosinone haven’t exactly shied away from their approach despite the fact that they’re back in Serie A this season. They have openly welcomed young players with open arms. Their manager, Eusebio Di Francesco, has shown plenty of faith in those young players, knowing full well that there will be bad moments that come with the good times. They’re easily one of the youngest rosters in the league, with Soulé being just one of the many players in their early 20s who have gotten a nice amount of minutes already this season.
They’ve fallen on a bit of a rough patch after a solid start to the season, getting just seven points from their last six league games. But what Frosinone hope they can use against the result run of tough results is their overall success at home this season — five wins and two draws in eight home games, with the 17 points they’ve earned just three behind what Juve’s league-leading home form has been at the Allianz Stadium.
Put it all together and things won’t exactly be so straightforward for Juventus when you hear that they’re playing one of Serie A’s newly-promoted sides. And that’s even before you throw into the equation that there’s the simple fact that some of Frosinone’s best players this season are ones on loan from Juventus. It makes for storylines aplenty, that’s for sure.
- Two of the four players out for the trip to Frosinone, Paul Pogba and Nicolo Fagioli, are suspended.
- The other two players who have stayed back in Turin, Mattia De Sciglio and Moise Kean, are injured and out until the new year at the very minimum.
- That’s what we thought, with Max Allegri announcing at his pre-match press conference that Federico Chiesa will miss the trip to Frosinone due to “some discomfort” with his patellar tendon. “It made no sense to take Federico along in those conditions,” Allegri added.
- Adrien Rabiot, who wasn’t able to shake an injury he picked up the week before against Napoli and missed the Genoa draw as a result, is back in the matchday squad. (Much to the delight of many people who are named, I dunno, Hunter Sharpless.)
- Allegri said that Timothy Weah is better after returning to the matchday squad last week, but still doesn’t have 90 minutes in his legs.
- While the Italian press continues to hammer Dusan Vlahovic for his lack of goals, Allegri came to the Serbian’s defense, saying at his pre-match press conference that “in the last few games he has technically put in some excellent performances.”
- Allegri’s key to victory on Saturday? “(We have to) play a match with great attention and concentration,” he said.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
I mean ... I have to do it. He is the big storyline coming into this game. Here, I’ll even use a picture of him from this (pre)season to make it make sense in this section.
We’ve already talked about him. But you know what? We’re going to take about him some more for very obvious and very predictable reasons.
Matias Soulé headed to Frosinone with an opportunity — an opportunity to not just get regular playing time, but one in which he could try and run with if things went right. It was a chance to show his talents on a consistent basis, something that he didn’t get the chance to do a season ago when he was playing sparingly for Juventus.
But, now, he gets to face Juventus.
It could come against a Juve side that lines up another young starlet in Kenan Yildiz against him, with rumors starting to pick up steam that the young Turk could be in the starting lineup as a result of Chiesa’s absence. But the thing that is truly the most interesting thing of the afternoon is what a player like Soulé who has played so well this season can do against easily one of the best defenses in Serie A.
Considering where he plays on the field in Frosinone’s 4-2-3-1 setup, Soulé is likely to see a lot of Danilo, a lot of Filip Kostic and probably some of Bremer, too. The two Brazilians, especially, are going to pose quite a test for the young Argentine who has six goals to his name in just over 1,200 minutes.
There’s also this piece to the puzzle, too: Soulé hasn’t scored in his last eight appearances in all competitions.
That’s not to say he’s playing poorly by any means because he’s not. He has had some solid showings of late — including against Inter at the San Siro — despite not finding the back of the net. And maybe expecting him to keep up the early-season pace when it comes to scoring goals was a little bit too much too soon. But, the kid’s got talent and we’re about to see what he will be able to do against Juventus’ defense on Saturday afternoon.
When: Saturday, Dec. 23, 2023.
Where: Stadio Benito Stirpe, Frosinone, Italy.
Official kickoff time: 12:30 p.m. in Italy and the Central European time zone, 11:30 a.m. in the United Kingdom, 6:30 a.m. Eastern time, 3:30 a.m. Pacific time.
HOW TO WATCH
Television: CBS Sports Network (United States); TNT Sports 3 (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.