The only ray of sunshine is that, despite all the flaws, the cream of the crop is not far off domestically, and the gap could be closed with the right moves in the next transfer market moves. Instead, the discouraging part is that changing a lot would lead to another adaptation period between the newcomers and the manager, and the disastrous results back to last August and September, which mainly stemmed from that, remain the biggest black eye of 2021-2022.

The front office will have to walk a tightrope in the summer. The squad needs a substantial overhaul, but it can not be so drastic that it has them playing like strangers for two months; otherwise, another campaign would quickly go down the drain. For that reason, it would be better to confirm some of the players currently on the bubble, for instance Alvaro Morata, Moise Kean, Federico Bernardeschi and Mattia De Sciglio, that are already integrated, rather than seeking minor upgrades in roles which, if things were ideal, would mostly be secondary. That would allow to focus the resources on a pair of real difference-makers that would fill positions that are or will be vacant.

As for the Genoa game, and probably for the next two ones too, it was high comedy, but it is not surprising seeing how badly previous seasons, which for the most part were way better than the present one, ended once the Old Lady lacked motivation. Given all the uncertainty, there is not even much of an opportunity to try building towards something. Fabio Miretti is basically the only youngster that requires grooming.

Injuries and outside factors will dictate the lineup as Danilo, Denis Zakaria and Arthur are unavailable, while the coach will most likely give Giorgio Chiellini and Paulo Dybala the nod for their curtain call at home. The shortage of midfielders makes 4-2-3-1 more likely than other schemes.

Expected Lineup

Juventus (4-2-3-1): Szczesny; De Sciglio, Bonucci, Chiellini, Pellegrini; Miretti, Rabiot; Bernardeschi, Dybala, Morata; Vlahovic.

Absences: Chiesa (ACL tear), McKennie (foot fracture), Kaio Jorge (patellar tendon tear), Arthur (ankle injury), Danilo (plantar fasciitis), Zakaria (thigh contusion).

Lazio will probably wind up qualifying for Europa League, which is a decent achievement because the race is tighter than in the past. Yet, their season has been aggressively uninteresting. The arrival of Maurizio Sarri brought lofty expectations, but it did not lead to a Copernican revolution. Their good results have mostly been the product of the quality of their top players, and their divine chemistry, and the solid performances of the newcomers.

The Tuscan gaffer switched from 3-5-2 to 4-3-3, and they bolstered their flanks with cheap additions. Pedro has carried them when healthy, Mattia Zaccagni had a strong middle part of the campaign, sandwiched between a slow start and late lull, while Felipe Anderson can be feast-or-famine even within stretches of the same contest, but you could do worse since they brought in for free.

The vast majority of their success derives from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Ciro Immobile’s elite level. The former has reached the double-digit threshold both in terms of scoring and assists, while the latter will most likely once again be the top scorer in Serie A. Their almost-telepathic connection has been highly productive. The third banana, Luis Alberto, has logged decent numbers in general, but it feels as if he has not been as influential as in the past, also because of some disagreements with the coach. He is coming off a marvelous showing where he displayed all his class, though.

Despite their different strategy, the Biancocelesti have not improved much, if at all, compared to the Simone Inzaghi era. They continue to be tremendously consistent in easier fixtures and lacking versus top competition. It is telling that their only four losses in 2022, when they completed the feeling out process with the gaffer, have come at the hands of Inter, Napoli, Roma and Milan. They have some work to do to be on par with the title contenders. And, if the rumors are true, the summer could set them back rather than boost their chances to fight for a Champions League spot in 2022/2023.

The transition has been especially challenging in the back. Francesco Acerbi is not mobile and had not played in a four-man line much in his career. Luiz Felipe is more apt, but he is injury-prone, and they have moved on from him when they realized he would leave at the end of his expiring contract. Patric has been a minor revelation as a pure center-backs, but he has some baffling blunders from time to time. Their fullbacks would be better suited to play as wing-backs too, but they eventually learned the system, even though it took a while, especially for Manuel Lazzari.

The almost finished product is a side that has a lot of weapons because everybody is involved in the offense besides the two central defenders and the linchpin of the midfield, either Lucas Leiva or Danilo Cataldi. That is an excellent asset to break the resistance of lowly opponents. They are terrific after getting the lead because they thrive in the counter-attacking game. On the other hand, their work rate level is not top-notch, and the high offside trap can be exposed by clubs with quality passers and attackers. In general, they seem mentally fragile, as they can struggle to get up for big-ticket bouts or dig out of holes.

They fluctuate between being a sight to behold when everything is clicking because Milinkovic-Savic, Alberto, Zaccagni and Anderson can bust out gorgeous plays at any time and take on opponents at will and listless showings when they get jammed up or smacked in the face early and have trouble create anything of note. Immobile is a long shot to feature due to an ankle sprain, and their record is abysmal without him, although they are slightly more accustomed to not having him this season compared to previous ones since he got banged up more often. Pedro would make the XI if he could last for an hour following a month-long absence; otherwise, Jovane Cabral or Luka Romero will start, with Felipe Anderson featuring as false-nine.

Expected Lineup

Lazio (4-3-3): Strakosha; Lazzari, Patric, Acerbi, Marusic; Milinkovic-Savic, Lucas Leiva, Luis Alberto; Pedro, Felipe Anderson, Zaccagni.