It was about 12 months ago. Juventus opened the 2022-23 season with a very good performance over Sassuolo to give them a rather positive start to the new campaign. It provided some hope that maybe, just maybe, things were going to be a little different following a season in which a fourth-place finish and no trophies marked Max Allegri’s first season back in Turin.
A week later, I posed a very short yet very important question as Juventus prepared to take the field against Sampdoria at the Luigi Ferraris ...
“So ... what’s next?”
This is what proved to be next: Juventus’ second game of the season saw them play out a scoreless draw against a Sampdoria side that eventually got relegated and is now being coached by Andrea Pirlo in Serie B. I, personally, would not like to see a repeat of that — the scoreless draw part of it, of course, since Samp was such a disaster last season that relegation only seemed inevitable. (Bologna, after all, is currently coached by a former Inter midfielder in Thiago Motta, so it’s not like we wish good things upon them to begin with.) That effort against Sampdoria had things crashing back down to earth in the first away fixture of the season, and little did we know that frustrating results against teams in the bottom half of the table would become the norm.
So, after Juventus again claimed a 3-0 win to open the season last weekend (although this time against Udinese), it’s time to figure out what’s next for Allegri’s squad that was one of the more impressive performers in Round 1 of the 2023-24 season. That will take place in Turin, with a sold-out Allianz Stadium ready to see what Juventus can do to follow up their bright start to the season when the aforementioned Thiago Motta and a wounded Bologna side come to town Sunday night.
It is that win over Udinese in which we saw a different Juventus from the one that was present for much of the 2022-23 season. For the first 45 minutes in which Juve built said 3-0 lead, they were aggressive, they were pressing (in a good way) and they were a team that looked to be brimming with confidence and one that wanted to prove a point.
It’s that kind of attitude that, for many, is a welcome change from the conservative and relatively passive approach that Allegri has deployed for the majority of his first two years back at Juventus. Some are attributing that to a starting lineup that is relatively unchanged outside of a couple of spots from a season ago. Others say it’s Juventus wanting to come out and play pissed off considering what happened for much of last season and the subsequent European ban this summer. Maybe it was Udinese being not very good since they weren’t. Maybe it was something else entirely. Or a combination of everything above.
No matter what combination of factors that went into it, the simple fact is that Juventus played well and it allowed them to absolutely coast in the second half (which was probably going to happen anyway with how hot it was).
Bologna was far from something you would consider “good” in their season-opening loss to Milan. They’ve sold Marko Arnautovic to Inter. And the guy who was probably looked at to try and pick up the slack following his departure, Musa Barrow, also won’t be at the Allianz as he deals with both injury issues and rumors of a possible exit before the summer window closes.
So, if you’re thinking to yourself that Bologna is probably along the same lines of Udinese and very much shorthanded as Motta tries to get his team back on track after last weekend, you’re right on the money.
For Juventus, that means there’s a second straight opportunity on a Sunday to begin this season on the right kind of (victorious) note. If they do what they did the first Sunday of the 2023-24 season on the second Sunday of the new campaign, then things will be looking quite nice as we get ready to flip the calendar to September (and welcome in the first international break shortly thereafter).
- Something we have not been able to say very often: Juventus only has one player currently out injured, with Mattia De Sciglio out until the new year after major knee surgery.
- Or that is what we thought until Max Allegri announced at his pre-match press conference that Wojciech Szczesny will miss Sunday’s home opener after picking up a knock in training.
- That means after thinking pretty much thinking all week that Allegri was going to break his streak of not using the same starting lineup in back-to-back games since coming back to Juve in 2021 ... he’s about to use a different starting lineup against Bologna.
- Allegri said that Moise Kean, who has been subject to rumors about his future at Juventus for more than a week now, “has never been out of the squad.” While admitting that Kean has been late to training once and has been dealing with a knock, Allegri said the 23-year-old striker will be available against Bologna.
- Paul Pogba is “better” and “could be used” against Bologna, according to Allegri.
- When it comes to his starting lineup, Allegri said he essentially has two decisions to make: “one in the middle and one out wide.”
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
There’s a few different ways we can go with this, but I think the pick is rather simple.
That’s mainly due to the fact that the star of last weekend is now the guy who will be lining up against his former club and suddenly with a whole lot more people interested in how he’s going to be playing.
The following statement is true: Andrea Cambiaso had one heck of an official debut in a Juventus shirt last weekend.
The following statement is also true: Juventus are unbeaten in games that Cambiaso starts while wearing said Juventus shirt.
One needed the other to happen, and the latter is very much yours truly taking advantage of the small sample size goodness that comes with somebody playing well in their first-ever game as a Juve player. But when you look at what Cambiaso did and it’s something a little different than what we’ve seen from the last few players who have either played left back or left wingback for Juventus, it’s something that brings a new wrinkle to Juventus’ creativity in the final third.
Now he is going to try and do it against the club where he called home last season.
Cambiaso’s performance last weekend is making us think a little bit about how Juve should approach the options on the left wing with just a few days left in the summer transfer window. That’s more to do with who could suddenly be expendable knowing that Juve’s financial situation tells us that some players could still be on the block if a good offer arrives. But it’s also because of what Cambiaso can bring to the table, small sample size and all, and what that could mean for a more aggressive and dynamic approach.
The question is now: Can Cambiaso, with a lot more eyeballs on him than seven days earlier, come close to replicating the season-opening performance he had in Udine?
You just hope that if he plays like he did this past weekend that the channel that is the main broadcaster of the game actually gets his name right during post-game interviews. See what I mean, folks?
Ah, yeah. That’s not good — especially since Esteban was both bald and hasn’t played a professional game in Italy since 2014. So, right. Maybe this weekend, Andrea. At least you know playing well again will probably mean another post-game interview.
When: Sunday, Aug. 27, 2023.
Where: Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy.
Official kickoff time: 6:30 p.m. Italy and the Central European time zone, 5:30 p.m. in the United Kingdom, 12:30 p.m. Eastern time, 9:30 a.m. Pacific time.
HOW TO WATCH
Television: TLN (Canada); TNT Sports 1 (United Kingdom).
Online/Streaming: Paramount+, CBS Sports Golazo (United States); fuboTV Canada (Canada); discovery+, discovery+ 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.