As it has often happened this season, Juventus’ kryptonite is getting the lead, and the same was true versus Venezia. The squad played very aggressively until that point and then visibly took the foot off the gas. Having so much self-confidence in managing the game comfortably is unjustified, as the Bianconeri have conceded silly goals time and time again.
The Lagunari’s one was not even fortuitous, as they produced a few good chances before hitting the net. Luckily the opponents were so flawed that it did not take much to get the win, but that attitude has led to dropping too many points. Fixing it should be one of the top priorities in the summer.
Fabio Miretti looked like a natural for somebody so young making his first start, and it is about time for Juventus to trust their youngsters a little more. The next three matches will be good opportunities since the Champions League qualification has been secured. The lack of depth has been a problem in this campaign, and the schedule will be crazy in 2022-2023.
With FIFA limiting the number of loans, it will be a fascinating window, as the Bianconeri will have to make decisions on a lot of prospects. Some could be deserving of a shot on the first-team roster, though. Not necessarily because they are the next big thing or bound to become stars, but you never truly know what you have in them until you test them out on the biggest stages. Plus, it would be a cost-effective strategy.
The midfield will have to be retooled to aspire to higher heights, but there probably are not the funds for multiple top-notch additions. Players like Miretti, Nicolò Rovella, Nicolò Fagioli, and Filippo Ranocchia could be useful to have more alternatives while focusing the spending on a stud. None of them is ready to be a difference-maker, but that does not mean they would not find ways to contribute and maybe fully blossom while surrounded by better talent. Six months in a top team often help the development more than a couple of years on loan in floundering clubs, even though the playing time is spotty.
The Old Lady has been pretty resourceful on that front this season. There were few expectations on fringe players like Mattia De Sciglio, Federico Bernardeschi and Luca Pellegrini, but they all had their moments and played a lot. It makes more sense to rely on the players you already have rather than bringing in veterans in secondary roles. For instance, pacey wingers are waiting in the wings, Matias Soulé, Felix Correia and Marley Aké to take Bernardeschi’s spot if he is let go. That would free up more cash to sign a proper replacement for Paulo Dybala, even though it would take patience.
There is an ongoing debate on whether this season was better or worse than the previous one. The points will be fewer, but everything is relative. It should not be forgotten that Juventus were not deserving of a Champions League spot in 2020-2021, and they got one just because Napoli committed seppuku on the final matchday.
The Bianconeri overcame a slow start this time around and have been steadily the third-best team in Serie A in 2022. The silverware matters too, though, even if they are not the most meaningful trophies. Taking home the Coppa Italia would tip the scale in Massimiliano Allegri’s favour once and for all. Even though his tactics and vision are questionable for the aesthetics, at least they are clear, and he built towards something. Instead, Andrea Pirlo had loftier ideas, but the output was ever-changing and too often confounding.
The line-up will change once again since Danilo will be rested to alleviate his plantar fasciitis and Luca Pellegrini is absent due to a bruised ankle. Mattia De Sciglio and Juan Cuadrado are available, and the former is a lock to start since he is suspended for the Coppa Italia final, while the latter is in contention with Alex Sandro. Miretti will get the nod, as deserved. There are not a ton of options to rotate the squad: Matthijs De Ligt and Denis Zakaria could be spared, Dybala will be back in the XI, since the situation makes it impossible for him to play versus Inter, joined by two among Dusan Vlahovic, Moise Kean and Alvaro Morata.
Juventus (4-3-3): Szczesny; Cuadrado, Rugani, Bonucci, De Sciglio; Arthur, Miretti, Rabiot; Dybala, Vlahovic, Kean.
Absences: Locatelli (MCL sprain), Chiesa (ACL tear), McKennie (foot fracture), Kaio Jorge (patellar tendon tear), Danilo (plantar fasciitis), Pellegrini (ankle sprain).
Genoa are technically still alive in the relegation struggle, but the blow suffered in the recent Derby della Lanterna against Sampdoria might have been the nail in the coffin morale-wise. They were soundly outplayed in a must-win game, and they squandered the opportunity to salvage a point as Domenico Criscito missed a late penalty kick.
It was their fourth loss in the past five rounds. They have picked up a ton of draws once Alexander Blessin took over, but they have never been able to rip off a great run like the one Salernitana is on right now. They would need a surprising turnaround and multiple breaks in their favour to avoid the drop.
Similarly to the Granata, they too had a midseason takeover, although it was not mandatory in their case. It appears that they paid the price for inexperience, and lack of Italian stewardship, at all levels of the club. They overhauled the roster in January, which has led to a further adaptation period that might have done more harm than good, also because its product was not terrific. No matter how awful the season had been, previous owner Enrico Preziosi always found a way to stay in Serie A down the stretch.
Their squad is fine on paper but, like Venezia, they do not have a lot of veterans to rely upon. The coach, likely on input from the management, phased out the ones they have too, who were highly influential in the recent past but not so much in the second half of the ongoing campaign. It does not help that Criscito has missed a lot of time with injuries, which have been a problem in multiple roles. It became clear pretty soon that he and Destro were not going to be part of the future after the club changed hands.
While Blessin is a rookie as far as Serie A is concerned, his tactics are old-fashioned and typical of the league. On paper, their scheme, 4-2-3-1, is offensive-minded. In reality, one of the wingers, and at times even both, is a work-rate oriented midfielder adapted to the flank to shore up the defensive phase. The centre of gravity is very low, and scoring has been a major struggle. They often kept a clean sheet right after the coaching switch. However, it eventually becomes too gruelling to shut down the opponents all the time if the production on the other end leaves a lot to be desired.
They would have the pieces to be more proactive, but they do it in only late-game situations and not consistently. Their rear-guard is not superb and needs protection, so they deal with a short blanket syndrome. Moreover, their strikers have been underwhelming. Destro has not been as clutch as in previous campaigns; Caleb Ekuban brings a lot of movement but has scored just once; Kelvin Yeboah used to be productive abroad but is more an energy bunny than a reliable centre-forward, and Albert Gudmundsson has not been a factor. Their flurry of moves in January has not paid off in that respect. They have had better luck in the back since Leo Ostigard has been a day-one starter and is a rock-solid and modern centre-back, Silvan Hefti is a pretty good fullback, and Morten Frendrup has plugged holes in several positions, always providing a jolt.
It will be a strange situation because Genoa are significantly more motivated and way more desperate than Juventus, but they do not have the means to pull the strings. They should, but they probably will not divert from their sit back-and-counter strategy, if not if and when they will really need to lay siege. On the other hand, the Bianconeri will want to gear up for the Supercoppa in decent fashion, but they have been sloppy even in high-pressure situations, so it will be interesting to see how they will come out for this one.
Stefano Sturaro is trending in the right direction despite leaving the last game early and could start over Pablo Galdames if in good enough shape. Frendrup and Hefti are in contention at right-back, Destro, Yeboah and Ekuban up front. Rovella and Andrea Cambiaso could return to the squad list after missing time with injuries.
Genoa (4-2-3-1): Sirigu; Hefti, Bani, Ostigard, Criscito; Galdames, Badelj; Melegoni, Amiri, Portanova; Destro.
Absences: Piccoli (thigh strain), Vanheusden, Czyborra (knee injuries).