It wasn’t enough to return to victory, but at least Juventus recaptured their fighting spirit against Bologna. The issues are too profound for that to be a factor too, and it’s the easiest to fix since it comes down to mentality and energy. The display wasn’t obviously fully satisfying, but it was a step in the right direction after the Bianconeri were rag-dolled by Inter. It should have led to a win since the chances were plentiful.

The gulf between an old-fashioned coach stuck in his ways and a new-age one was on full display Sunday. While the early subs were fine and worked out, Thiago Motta inserted a striker for a midfielder when his team was losing ground. Instead, Massimiliano Allegri replaced Federico Chiesa with Fabio Miretti quickly after the equalizer. Granted that the winger wasn’t faring well and can’t go to distance in consecutive matches yet, there were more offensive-minded options.

The gaffer finally dusted off Samuel Iling-Junior, and his instant impact corroborated the suspicion that he had been largely mismanaged in previous months. Considering the five subs and his slipperiness, he should have been a regular off the bench, as he’s an ideal guy to throw in against tired opponents. Instead, he has been relegated to the Next Gen squad, as if they were going anywhere. It would also be better if Enzo Barrenechea, who was shelved after a poor half while playing out of position, re-entered the rotation since Leandro Paredes is disastrous whenever he gets on the pitch. He’d help out in this match since Adrien Rabiot is rumored to rest.

The rumors and remarks about Massimiliano Allegri staying put abound. We’ll see whether they are cliché to keep the quiet since a coaching change isn’t imminent or if they will indeed hold true. It feels like the club is headed for an overhaul behind the scenes, making a switch on the bench too onerous for an organization that likes continuity and refrains from substantial changes. If the choice is between an elite sporting director and a touted up-and-coming gaffer, the latter would have more significant benefits. In an ideal world, both would happen at the same time, and that would be a true shock to the system to revitalize the outfit.

Instead, it appears that the only thing that could potentially cost Allegri his job is losing the locker room, which doomed Maurizio Sarri, who never truly gelled with the squad. Some whispers about disagreements with Dusan Vlahovic, Angel Di Maria, and Chiesa are popping up here and there. If things go south, it’s easier and way less expensive to replace one person rather than half the roster. On the other hand, the fact that several players are underperforming should already be a clear enough indication of who the responsible is. Moreover, seeing veterans make the same silly mistakes time and time again demonstrates a lack of accountability, and that’s damning.

Probable Lineup

3-5-2: Szczesny; Bremer, Bonucci, Danilo; De Sciglio, Fagioli, Paredes, Miretti, Kostic; Di Maria, Vlahovic. 

Absences: Kean (thigh injury), Kaio Jorge (patellar tendon tear). 

Lecce ran into the typical error of letting up after building a good cushion thanks to an admirable first half of the season, fueled by the fact that the threshold to avoid relegation seemed particularly low. However, Verona accelerated, engulfing teams that weren’t sweating. Water always finds his level and, after all, they aren’t much better than the sides below them in the standings. Their position and tally make sense overall, but they’ll surely have plenty of regrets for how they fared in February and April. They finally displayed a heightened sense of urgency in the Udinese tilt, and they returned to winning ways after a long time. They’ll have to replicate that two or three more times to avoid relegation. They have a few feasible home games to do that, so they remain in the driver’s seat despite a long drought.

Their performances have been reasonably consistent, but they haven’t collected points at the same rate for one reason or the other. They have nice attackers, but scoring has been a major struggle. Once their big kahuna Gabriel Strefezza stopped producing at a fast pace, they didn’t find somebody else that could pick up the slack. It’s not sexy, but many sides down low would have benefitted from signing one of those foxy old-school center-forwards.

Instead, they rolled the dice with a youngster with no Serie A experience that bags more gems than cheap goals, Lorenzo Colombo, and a speedster, Assan Ceesay, who’s more capable of stretching the defense than putting the ball in the net. They have been okay per se, but they are both complementary forwards, if not second-strikers altogether, than proper leaders of a trident. In addition, Federico Di Francesco and Lameck Banda provide pace, but they aren’t clutch in the box either.

To solve that, they tried to add more chutzpah to their midfield by adapting Remi Oudin, with decent results, as their two other regulars there, Alexis Blin and Morten Hjulmand, are hustle-first players and don’t bring a lot to the table in the final third. The latter confirmed to be on a trajectory that will land him on a top team eventually. He possesses all the traits of a pure regista, but he excels defensively, and many coaches love players like that.

The defensive phase has been their forte all campaign long, and it’s no surprise. Wladimiro Falcone is highly reliable and a difference-maker between the sticks, Federico Baschirotto is one of the most imposing and muscular center-backs around, and Samuel Umtiti has been decent. He hasn’t performed at the level that originally brought him to Barcelona; otherwise, they’d be airtight, but he bounced back nicely after some injury-riddled seasons. Plus, their fullbacks are okay in both phases.

They experienced a swoon because their fire abated a little and their opponents figured them out. Their scheme is a little vanilla, a classic 4-3-3 that leans heavily on the two flanks, and they are easily stifled if Strefezza gets bottled up, as their other weapons need to be ignited. He’s unavailable for this one due to yellow-card accumulation, which is good news for Juventus. Their offense might look directionless without him pulling the strings.

They can go in a couple of directions to replace him, either fielding both Banda and Di Francesco or moving up Oudin, their second-most inventive guy, reintroducing Joan Gonzalez or Youssef Maleh in the midfield, who are both technical. The former hit a sort of rookie wall midway through the year, but he’s been a proper revelation since he came out of nowhere. He more than held his own in his first run in the top league, and he has a complete toolbox.

Probable Lineup

4-3-3: Falcone; Gendrey, Baschirotto, Umtiti, Pezzella; Blin, Hjulmand, Maleh; Oudin, Ceesay, Banda. 

Absences: Strefezza (suspension), Gallo (back pain), Pongracic (ankle surgery), Dermaku (sports hernia surgery).