By now, it’s safe to assume that you know Juventus’ Europa League campaign will go at least two games further. Because of that, the Thursday-Sunday schedule quirk is going to be something in our lives for at least a few more weeks.
It just won’t be this one.
A season that has seen a number of scheduling quirks might seen one of its most notable one to conclude the 24th round of fixtures in Serie A. Not only did we just see Thursday night football that featured an Angel Maria hat trick, now we will get the second Derby della Mole on a ... Tuesday night? Yep, it’s on a Tuesday night! That’s something we rarely get to say at any point of the season let alone for one of the more intense fixtures of any campaign.
Yet, here Juve is ... on a Tuesday night ... with a chance to move up another spot in the standings and just that much closer to the final European spot after Atalanta dropped points yet again this past weekend with its 2-0 loss to Atalanta.
For now, while we wait for the appeal process to play out and then hold our breath that there’s no other sporting sanctions handed down, Juventus could still find itself in the mix when it comes to getting into the top six. (And, if the appeal is actually successful, then it’s right back into the top four Juve goes — which, depending on what happens next, is a pretty decent thought considering Max Allegri’s squad would be level on points with Inter and AC Milan if that happened today.)
But thinking of appeals and the impact they could have aren’t exactly the main thing right now. For Juventus, just getting as many points as possible no matter what the state of the 15-point penalty is in a few weeks has to be the most important thing for Allegri right now.
Not that it isn’t any time Juve takes the field. And not that it isn’t in a game like this one in which style points are rarely something we come away talking about in our various recaps.
Torino has, statistically, one of the best defenses in the league. Knowing that Toro’s manager is Ivan Juric, that’s not necessarily a surprise considering that’s the calling card for a lot of his teams in recent years. The problem for Torino has been in attack, where its 24 goals in 23 games is eighth-lowest in Serie A.
For comparison’s sake, Juventus has scored 36 goals — the seventh-most in Serie A — and we know how tough scoring has been at times for Max Allegri’s squad.
As we know, though, the Turin derby is always closer than any of us would like. Of the last six Turin derbies, Juventus has won four of them. That’s good! But only one of those wins has come by more than one goal, with October’s Derby della Mole being decided by a 74th-minute Dusan Vlahovic goal.
Knowing that Juventus’ schedule is about to enter arguably the toughest stretch that it has had so far this season, then starting things off with a derby win before heading over to the Italian capital this weekend is going to be a big, big deal. And, you know, so would be earning three points at a time when points — no matter where Juve’s standing in the table is — are about as precious as ever.
- Paul Pogba will be called up for the Derby della Mole, according to Max Allegri at his pre-match press conference. Pogba will “play if necessary,” Allegri said.
- Federico Chiesa will be back in the squad for Tuesday night’s Turin derby, but what his actually match fitness level is and how many minutes he can actually play seems a little more uncertain, with Allegri saying that the Italian winger trained with the team on Sunday after “six so-so days.”
- Fabio Miretti is still out injured. Miretti trained partially with the group on Sunday.
- Kaio Jorge is still out injured.
- Manuel Locatelli is suspended due to yellow card accumulation.
- Dusan Vlahovic will be back in the starting lineup after coming off the bench against Nantes. Allegri noted after Thursday night’s win that Vlahovic had been feeling tired following his initial comeback from his lengthy groin injury, thus the reason for giving Moise Kean a start against Nantes.
- Allegri confirmed that Leonardo Bonucci will continue in his role of unofficial assistant coach due to his slow build to being completely match fit and still not being available to play from the opening whistle.
- Allegri made a point to note that the squad has gotten over the shock of the 15-point penalty being handed down last month. “Regardless of what happens off the pitch, we have earned 47 points,” Allegri said.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
With no Locatelli — who was quite good against Nantes last Thursday night — this seems a little too easy to figure out who we will spotlight for the next couple hundred of words.
It’s the guy who will almost certainly step in for Locatelli and play in an always-important role within Juventus’ midfield setup.
Leandro Paredes has been featured here recently. And, if this was some random game against a relegation battler in Serie A, then we’d be talking about the other Argentine on the Juventus roster who is in much, much, much better form than Paredes is.
But because of the combination of Locatelli being suspended and Paredes being in such a rut form-wise, then you have Juve counting on a midfielder who is far from his best entering a very big game.
When Juventus and Torino first met one another in mid-October, Paredes played all of a few minutes in stoppage time after he came on as a late-game sub for Dusan Vlahovic. If the rumors are correct, this will be the last Turin derby that Paredes takes part in unless he finds himself in granata one day in the future. For now, he’s one of the few options Max Allegri has outside of the main three of Locatelli, Nicolo Fagioli and Adrien Rabiot considering Paul Pogba has yet to appear in a game this season and Fabio Miretti is currently injured.
Who really knows what to expect from Paredes anymore. His form has been not great at all for weeks now. And who knows, maybe the future is weighing on him a bit as the chatter of him not being bought outright by Juventus has picked up in recent weeks. It certainly can’t be easy hearing speculation about your future when you know the club that you will be returning to doesn’t exactly what you there, either.
But when it comes to Tuesday night at the Allianz Stadium, Juventus need Paredes to be more like the player from his first few weeks as a Juve player rather than the one we’ve seen the last couple of months. We know what this team is like when Locatelli is playing well. The same can’t be said about Paredes — which probably tells you why his future is so uncertain.
When: Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023.
Where: Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy.
Official kickoff time: 8:45 p.m. local time in Italy and around Europe, 7:45 p.m. in the United Kingdom, 2:45 p.m. Eastern time, 11:45 a.m. Pacific time.
HOW TO WATCH
Television: BT Sport 3 (United Kingdom).
Online/Streaming: Paramount+ (United States); DAZN (Canada); BTSport.com, BT Sport App (United Kingdom); DAZN, SKY Go Italia, NOW TV (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.