Now that Juventus is a few weeks into life into the world that comes with a 15-point deduction and everything that comes with it, the preview writing process hasn’t exactly been all that simple. At least if the immediate aftermath in which Juve was handed said penalty, the results on the field were not great, therefore the things to talk about were plentiful if not gifted to us all on a nice silver platter from the J Hotel.
Juventus entered the weekend in 10th place (and now in 12th following Saturday’s results), too far away from even competing for some sort of European place but also a solid amount of points away from the relegation zone. (This, of course, comes before any other potential points penalties over the next couple of months.)
So, as Juve enters Sunday evening’s game against Fiorentina, there’s no more winless streak to try and stop, there’s not even any sort of massive injury crisis for Max Allegri to try and work through even with a couple of his top names still on the sidelines for an uncertain amount of time. Instead, Juventus’ return matchup against Fiorentina is basically a team that certainly didn’t expect to be where they are in the table while the other, based on a bright first season with Vincenzo Italiano, probably didn’t think they’ll be in 14th no matter how apprehensive their fanbase tends to be. (La Viola is a cruel mistress, so it’s understandable.)
Juve did put an end to their post-point penalty winless streak on Tuesday against Salernitana, which seemed to quell some of Allegri’s talk of relegation during his meeting with the media prior to Sunday’s game in Turin. He did, however, say that Sunday’s game will be different than the wins over Lazio in the Coppa Italia and Salernitana for the simple reason of Fiorentina being “always a tricky side to play against.”
Based on how things have gone against Fiorentina the last few years. How much so? The last six meetings with Fiorentina have played out like this:
- Three Juventus wins, including a pair of 1-0 victories.
- Two draws, including 1-1 tie back in early September.
- One Fiorentina win.
That’s far from domination or things being one-sided in Juventus’ favor. We know that no matter what kind of form Fiorentina is in, Italiano’s side is one that is going to bring it whenever they face Juve because that’s just how this rivalry works. Playing Juventus is always going to be one of Fiorentina’s biggest games of the season and one in which the result clearly show that they’ve been competitive in said matchup.
We all know that trying to guess which Juventus will show up from a game-to-game basis is a complete wild mystery these days. The initial shock of the points penalty has had to have worn off by now, but there’s always going to be the lingering thought in the back of your mind about a 12th-facing-114th kind of matchup.
But one thing is for sure: If Allegri and Juventus want any chance of even sniffing the top third of the table, then stringing wins together is going to have to happen sooner rather than later. Europe seems completely out of reach, but crazier things have happened in this league.
- Paul Pogba is still out injured. “He’s working hard to be available but I can’t put a timescale on it,” Allegri said.
- Leonardo Bonucci is still out injured. Allegri said Bonucci will be available when Juve face Nantes on Thursday.
- Arek Milik is still out injured. Allegri said Milik “is improving” but did not say when he could be back, only providing a “he’ll need a bit of time” kind of timetable update.
- Fabio Miretti is out injured after spraining his ankle against Salernitana. Initial reports from the Italian media suggest the 19-year-old midfielder will be out three or four weeks.
- Kaio Jorgre is still out injured.
- Leandro Paredes is expected back after missing the Salernitana win due to injury.
- Allegri was in the mood to praise Adrien Rabiot during his pre-match press conference, declaring that the Frenchman is “certainly not a gamble” while saying he will play from the start against Fiorentina.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
It’s Juventus vs. Fiorentina. Two of Fiorentina’s best players over the past decade are now Juventus players. Therefore, this is pretty dang easy, isn’t it?
Federico Chiesa has not played against Fiorentina since Nov. 6, 2021, a 1-0 Juventus win at the Allianz Stadium. It was another former Fiorentina player that scored the lone goal that night in Turin, a result that probably still sticks in the craw of some Viola supporters to this day. But for Chiesa, it’s pretty easy to figure out that on top of facing his former club, this is a chance to really just continue the comeback trail to those pre-injury days.
Since making his return to action right before the World Cup break, Chiesa has certainly shown flashes of the player we know he is and was before his major knee injury. The thing is, and this is no surprise, Max Allegri has been slow-playing Chiesa’s reintroduction to the squad (and especially the starting lineup), thus preventing the Italian winger from logging heavy minutes despite appearing in most of Juve’s games since his return.
But why this is a little more interesting than just Chiesa facing his former club?
Because the guy that he will likely be leading the line with is also a former teammate of his in Florence. And the two former Fiorentina players just played together for the first time as Juventus players just a few short days ago.
So now, if all of the predicted lineups are correct and it’s Chiesa and Dusan Vlahovic playing up front together on Sunday, then it’s time to watch them cook together from the opening whistle for the first time in Turin.
That has the potential to thrill. It’s two incredibly talented players rekindling their good vibes from Florence but in a very different looking jersey. One of the first things we thought about when Vlahovic signed for Juventus just a little over a year ago was what things will look like when Chiesa came back from injury.
Now we get that chance. And if Chiesa looks like he has for a good amount of his minutes since coming back from injury, then Vlahovic will certainly have the chance to replicate the kind of scoring chances he had in Salerno on Tuesday night.
When: Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023.
Where: Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy.
Official kickoff time: 6 p.m. local time in Italy and around Europe, 5 p.m. in the United Kingdom, 12 p.m. Eastern time, 9 a.m. Pacific time.
HOW TO WATCH
Television: CBS Sports Network (United States); TLN (Canada); BT Sport 1 (United Kingdom); 214 DAZN Zona (Italy).
Online/Streaming: Paramount+ (United States); fuboTV Canada (Canada); BTSport.com, BT Sport App (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.