A win is a win, especially in these dark and trying times. However, it is hard to take away anything too positive from beating Salernitana, which was way less comfortable than it should have been. At least Alvaro Morata returned to the stat-sheet, and the new scheme enhanced Paulo Dybala, even though the final slip cost him an even bigger day.
The match was further evidence that the level of dangerousness of Juventus is not tied to how many attackers are on the pitch. As a matter of fact, it would have been hard to field a more offensive-minded lineup. Yet, the team still had trouble generating clear-cut chances. The goals again mainly came thanks to combinations out of the blue, with somebody taking it upon themselves to create. And that will be more complicated to do without Federico Chiesa.
While Morata has been subpar, it is hard to fault him too much, considering how little the team produces. It is not like he had a slew of glaring misses, and Moise Kean has not been better. At least the Spaniard retains value for his prowess on the secondary elements of the role; instead, the ex-Everton man is not as proficient there. He is at his best in open space, and it is tough to see him thrive in a team that plays with so little pace. The executives will have two interesting decisions on their hands related to their hefty options to buy.
The tactical wheel constantly spinning stopped at a 4-2-3-1 in the midweek bout, with Dybala taking center-stage. The two-man midfield makes sense without Weston McKennie, but we will see how long if the scheme will stick. Massimiliano Allegri suggested that Dejan Kulusevski and Luca Pellegrini will stay in the starting XI. After all, the only way for youngsters to get better is to play. The former is starting to show some signs, while the latter has been surprisingly diligent in the back, at that goes a long way in the coach’s eyes.
Giorgio Chiellini probably will not play twice in a row, while Morata and Kean are in contention. The gaffer hinted that Federico Bernardeschi is not in peak condition, so he might be the odd man out with Adrien Rabiot returning to the lineup. The manager opened to using the Frenchman as a pivot, which would be better than using him on the wing. Juventus would run out of attackers if Bernardeschi sat out, hence a different formation could be in the cards despite the need for continuity on that front.
Juventus (4-2-3-1): Szczesny; Cuadrado, Bonucci, De Ligt, Pellegrini; Rabiot, Locatelli; Kulusevski, Dybala, Bernardeschi; Morata.
Injuries: Chiesa, Danilo, McKennie (thigh strains), McKennie (knee sprain).
Genoa started the season with a lot of uncertainty at the ownership level, which is always a massive cloud over everything. The club ultimately switched hands, and the new front office already made their first big move. However, they will have to wait for one transfer market window or two to really benefit from it.
Davide Ballardini has always done well with the Grifone when taking the reins after someone else fired. They were moribund when he came in last year, but he avoided relegation. Instead, he apparently loses his touch if he starts a campaign at the helm. The new management gave him more time than former president Enrico Preziosi, but he could not turn things around.
They made a splash replacing him with Andriy Shevchenko, but they have had so many major injuries that it has been tough to gauge his impact and especially ideas. He was not helped by the schedule either, as they faced Roma and Milan since the hiring, losing rather easily, and shared the spoils in a nil-nil with Udinese.
The new coach has simplified things tactically after the previous one tried odd experiments. They now use only 3-5-2, which was the scheme they were built for. Unfortunately for them, their top two strikers, Mattia Destro and Felipe Caicedo got hurt simultaneously. Caleb Ekuban has shown glimpses in the last few games, but he is still scoreless. Goran Pandev has not been particularly effective this season and might be better off as a super-sub at this point of his career. So they have relied a lot on youngster Flavio Bianchi, who is pretty agile but is at his first season in Serie A after all. They have been aggressively toothless.
They will be short-handed in the midfield and the defense as well. They just lost Nicolò Rovella for a while, who had been their most reliable and charismatic contributor despite his age, which should make Juventus happy. Stefano Sturaro is out as well and, while his loss is not as notable, he had gained a starting role. They will have to reshape the line with two new players next to linchpin Milan Badelj. They will probably go with one muscular guy, Valon Behrami or Abdoulaye Touré, and one a little more proactive, for instance, Pablo Galdames or Hernani. But there is also a chance they opt for grit and physicality all the way. Hernani is also an option to play in a more offensive role.
The defense has been snakebit too, with their top center-backs Nikola Maksimovic and Domenico Criscito on the mend together. In retrospect, their reinforcement campaign has been solid despite not spending a lot, as they brought in a few players that are set to be cornerstones for years to come, but they have been able to use them a lot so far.
They have won just once against Cagliari, but they picked up a bunch of ties that allowed them not to nosedive too steeply in the standings. The sides around them down low are not exactly sprinting, so they are still in an okay spot. If they successfully weathered the current storm of absences, they could surge once their quality players return. Recent history suggests that Genoa generally fare better in second halves of the season, and they have a ton of experience as far as the relegation struggle is concerned.
With such scheme, they inevitably lean on the flank games a lot, although they are down one key piece there too in Mohamed Fares. Andrea Cambiaso has been one of the biggest revelations in Serie A so far, as he came from nowhere and has been by far one of the best assets with his prowess in the final third. Either Stefano Sabelli or Paolo Ghiglione will man the other wing, with the latter being more of an offensive weapon.
Shevchenko has not brought in new elements, so they mostly rely on counter-attacking, looking to find their mobile forwards in space. On the other hand, their defense has been far from stingy, especially against high-wattage opponents. Genoa used to be one of the grittiest and most intense sides, especially at home, but that fighting spirit has not manifested itself in many occasions this year. So, it will be the second creampuff match-up in a row for Juventus, which better not screw around.
Genoa (3-5-2): Sirigu; Biraschi, Masiello, Vasquez; Sabelli, Behrami, Badelj, Hernani, Cambiaso; Bianchi, Ekuban.
Injuries: Rovella, Destro, Criscito, Maksimovic (thigh strains), Fares (calf strain), Sturaro (thigh pull).