I do this exercise every year. Once the Serie A schedule is out, I take a look at the fixtures and list which five are the most intriguing at first glance.
This article always comes with the caveat that we can’t really know whether these will hold. Injuries, form, the transfer market, and a host of other variables all mean I’m making these calls with a whole lot of uncertainty.
For this year’s piece, that uncertainty is amplified tremendously. Between the moment this piece is published and the season starting, Juventus’ roster could undergo a seismic change. Big names might leave, either because they want out or because the club’s critical financial situation forces their hand. There have been offseason defined be uncertainty in the last few years, but this one could take that cake by a very large margin. We really don’t have a solid idea of what the expectations for this team are going to be on August 20, because we just don’t know what it’s going to look like.
But, traditions are traditions here at BWRAO, and, frankly, I like a challenge, so we’re going to forge ahead as we usually do. Here, in chronological order, are Juventus’ five most intriguing games upon first look at the fixture.
Round 9, at AC Milan
Juve’s first trip of the year to the San Siro will be a smorgasbord of storylines. Aside from Juve, Milan — just a season removed from being champions — are the biggest question mark in the league.
Any optimism surrounding Milan’s new ownership has evaporated in double quick time since the 2022-23 season ended. New owners RedBird Capital, with Gerry Cardinale at the head, immediately forced club legend Paolo Maldini, who as a director had helped build Milan’s title-winning roster, out of the club after informing him there would be effectively no budget to bolster the squad in the transfer window. Then they sold arguably the team’s best outfield player, Sandro Tonali, to Newcastle United within days of the transfer window opening.
The upheaval has created massive question marks about the Rossoneri, a few of which will likely be outstanding when Juve takes the field in their first meeting of the year.
This game will also be the end of what is on paper a tough three-game stretch that starts with an away game against Atalanta, followed by the season’s first Derby della Mole. Whatever Juve looks like by this point, this will be the end of its first really tough stretch, and a good point to evaluate where they are at an early point in the year.
A fun footnote will be the clash between USMNT teammates Timothy Weah and Christian Pulisic, as the latter is close to officially signing with Milan.
Round 15, vs Napoli
Any team’s status as a contender is measured against the defending champions. Juve won’t see scudetto holders Napoli (barf) until December, but they get them at home, and will be able to measure themselves against the league’s elite side for the first time.
The Partenopei are set to endure some serious turnover of their own. Obviously, the presence of Cristiano Giuntoli in the Juventus directors’ box will be a storyline. Then there’s the question of how the team will play under new manager Rudi Garcia after the architect of last year’s champs, Luciano Spalletti, decided to take a sabbatical rather than work for Aurelio De Laurentiis for another year. There will be some roster shakeup too. Center-back Kim Min-jae seems all but certain to end up at Bayern Munich in the next few weeks, and there will be a plethora of suitors for star striker Victor Osimhen as well.
How Juve play here will be a major indicator of how competitive they’ll actually be for the rest of the season. This past year Juve was being fancied at making a title run until Napoli utterly destroyed them in their first meeting. It’s yet to be seen whether Napoli will be the leaders at this stage, but they’ll likely still be good enough that this will be a good measuring stick as to just how good Juve might be.
Round 23, at Inter
The Derby d’Italia is always an intense affair, and this coming season is sure to be no different.
Last year, Juve did the double on their most hated rivals in the league, but were beaten by them in the Coppa Italia for the second consecutive year.
Unlike the first two teams on this list, Inter look relatively stable coming into the season. While midfield lynchpin Marcelo Brozovic has departed for Saudi money, Hakan Calhanoglu showed last year that he can play that role, which gives the Nerazzurri an exciting midfield with mainstay Nicolo Barella and new signing Davide Frattesi presumably playing around him. Lautaro Martinez is as deadly a striker as there is in Europe when he’s on form, although there’s currently some question as to who he’ll partner with up top with Edin Dzeko gone and Romelu Lukaku’s fate uncertain. Perhaps the biggest question mark will be in goal, where Andre Onana seems likely to pack up and replace David De Gea at Manchester United.
Inter are an obvious top-four contender, if not a title contender this season, and with Juve looking to get back into the Champions League places themselves this will likely be a head-to-head game in the race for a place at Europe’s big table. Add in the intensity and general nastiness that the Derby d’Italia tends to generate, and it has all the makings of a seriously fun game to watch.
Round 28, vs Atalanta
Here’s a sobering statistic: Juventus hasn’t beaten Atalanta at the Allianz Stadium since March of 2018. Since then, they’ve been held to four draws by La Dea and lost once.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s men in general have been a bogey team for the last half-decade. Perhaps former president Andrea Agnelli’s rather flip comment about no one wanting to watch Atalanta in the Champions League ran afoul of the karma police.
Indeed, the 2-0 win in Bergamo at the beginning of May was the first time Juve had beaten the Bergamo side in league play since 2019. This is a team that, if Juve want to live in the top reaches of the table again, they are going to have to learn how to beat, especially at home.
That this game comes a week after Juve’s trip to Naples will only serve to heighten the pressure around this game, given that both teams will likely be chasing something. It will be up to the Bianconeri to finally protect their house against the other team in black and blue.
Round 35 at Roma
This will be Juve’s last game of the year against a potential top-four contender (unless you think Salernitana, Bologna, or Monza are about to shock everyone).
It’s also a game against a team that Juve failed to beat last season, so if you’re looking for a mark of improvement, this might just be it.
Depending on how the European places shake out, this could be anywhere from an intriguing upper-table clash to a late play-in for one of the spots. This game is also helped by being the end of a particularly stressful chunk of schedule: in the six games prior to this, Juve will face off against Lazio, Fiorentina, Torino and Milan.
A tricky test at the Olimpico — and the looming presence of the Roma turf monster that takes the souls of ACLs — could well be the final decisive day in a race for the European places before a relatively smooth (on paper) run-in. Depending on the situation, this could be a must-win game.