If it weren’t for that controversial goal and the narrow result, the win versus Inter would have been the best one of the season since it came against a rival, a quality team, and on the road. The performance was very sound, and the defense barely risked anything. Juventus basically got in San Siro the type of victory they should have gained versus Roma, but luck didn’t go their way that day. With their recent surge, and other sides floundering, the Bianconeri have proven to be the second-best team in Italy at this point of the season.
Atalanta returning to winning ways dents the path to sixth place, but the outfits above them aren’t too far either. Qualifying for the Champions League even with the point deduction is a long shot but no longer a mirage, as the contenders are showing major cracks. The next three matchdays will be difficult to handle attention-wise since the next key step from the judicial front will come on April 20th. Although it might ultimately be an inconclusive one, with the sanction sent back to the previous court to be adjusted. That won’t diminish the anticipation, plus there should be further referrals and the distraction and buzz that come with it shortly.
There are the Coppa Italia semifinals and a Europa League bout till then. The mental and roster gymnastic to have the right amount of energy for each task will be brutal, but Massimiliano Allegri has thrived in the eye of the storm. All things considered, it took the squad and the coaching staff just a pair of weeks to regroup and recalibrate everything after a tornado they had no control over struck.
The ongoing run doesn’t completely offset the early Champions League elimination, a competition the Old Lady had no shot at winning regardless, but things could have really gone awry with a different manager. He’ll never have the most appealing style, although it’s not as ugly as advertised when most of the top players are available, but his leadership, and not just about pitch-related matters, needs to be acknowledged, if not commended.
We’ll see whether the management, which will probably have a new leader in a couple of months, will consider Antonio Conte, but it’d take something unforeseen for the current boss to be dethroned. The ex-Tottenham gaffer would be ideal for a rebuild given his intensity and intangibles. However, that’s not really on the horizon, as Juventus would have been squarely in contention in normal seasons where there isn’t a team that wins every game. Moreover, the sudden and hurtfully premeditated way he left in the past because of a gross miscalculation and lack of patience shouldn’t be glossed over easily.
As for the lineup, most of the players have recovered, other than Federico Chiesa, Paul Pogba, and Leonardo Bonucci, but Adrien Rabiot and Leandro Paredes are suspended. Considering the physicality of the Frenchman, Enzo Barrenechea is more apt than Fabio Miretti. Angel Di Maria will most likely begin on the bench after a late return from South America, but the options to replace him are aplenty since Arkadiusz Milik and Moise Kean are available. Alex Sandro, Juan Cuadrado, and perhaps even Dusan Vlahovic could be initially spared for Tuesday. Filip Kostic is fine despite a little scare.
3-5-2: Szczesny; Gatti, Bremer, Danilo; De Sciglio, Fagioli, Locatelli, Miretti, Kostic; Kean, Milik.
Absences: Rabiot, Paredes (suspensions), Chiesa (knee tendinitis), Pogba (thigh strain), Bonucci (lower leg contusion), Kaio Jorge (patellar tendon tear).
After doing the trick for multiple seasons, Hellas Verona have broken the toy, as they didn’t replenish the squad enough after selling to have a comfortable campaign. Unless some other team slips, it will be a direct duel between them and Spezia to avoid relegation. Making up 5 points in 11 matchdays is difficult but feasible, but they’ll have to show better.
While it was probably too challenging to keep Giovanni Simeone and Antonin Barak, they could have held on to Gianluca Caprari, making him the pillar of their new offense. Instead, they had to start from scratch, and they haven’t found a go-to scorer that could propel them. Their offensive numbers are abysmal, and they look very toothless.
In addition, they might have underestimated the contribution of their past coaches. Gabriele Cioffi seemed like a fine choice on paper, but he didn’t jell with the squad and was ousted quickly. They went back to the Ivan Juric and Igor Tudor’s scheme and ideas with Salvatore Bocchetti, who was eventually joined on the bench by lower-league veteran Marco Zaffaroni since he didn’t have the proper license. But their previous gaffers had more experience and were better motivators and tacticians, which hid their flaws, although they did have better squads at their disposal.
They had their only decent stretch in late January and early February, thanks to a pair of key additions and some effective adjustments, but then they fell back into their underwhelming ways and haven’t won in five matches. They were nipped by Roma, lost badly to Fiorentina and Sampdoria in a display that was particularly dispiriting and shambolic, and drew with Spezia and Monza. They had their chances to be in a much better spot, but they fumbled them away.
They were inevitably busy in the past window, as they brought back aggressive director Sean Sogliano, and some newcomers quickly proved their worth. Ondrej Duda held things down in the midfield since Miguel Veloso missed a lot of time with a calf injury, and he’s a quality distributor. They might move him closer to the attack now that the Portuguese veteran is healthy. Cyril Ngonge had a tremendous impact with Serie A, bagging two goals right away and showing electrifying potential. However, he went down with an ankle injury and was sorely missed afterward. He’s back for this one, at least as a bench option, and he’ll immediately be their most dangerous weapon.
However, they were unable to address their biggest need: a center-forward that could bag cheap goals. They signed just Adolfo Gaich, who isn’t totally new to Italy since he had a cup of coffee with Benevento, but he hasn’t been the big presence in the box they hoped he would be, although he showed signs of life in the past game. Kevin Lasagna has basically been in a season-long slump. On top of Ngonge, they had to play most of the recent tilts sans Milan Djuric too. Even though he rarely ever scores, he’s their best option because of all the hard work he does. He’ll be out for this one as well.
With such a peculiar tip of the spear, they necessitate production from other roles, but that has been spotty at best. Among their staples, Darko Lazovic has been the only one that hasn’t been brought down by their whole situation. They found something when they moved him to no.10, as he’s highly inventive and a great catalyst. They have more creators than finishers at this point, though. He’ll be sidelined by muscle fatigue, and it’s a hurtful loss. His absence pretty much ensures that dynamic wingback Josh Doig will start on the left flank. He has been slightly up and down lately, but he’ll surely be one to watch in the summer since many teams that employ 3-5-2 could use somebody with such a big nose for the goal out wide.
Ngonge and Simone Verdi being available gives them some alternatives, although not on the same level as the Serb, plus they might still be limited by their recent physical issues. The Italian attacker is an asset with his class when properly motivated and in form, but that has rarely been the case so far this season. They’ll be hoping he gets back into shape in a hurry. Jayden Braaf and Yayah Kallon will also be in contention, but they haven’t proved to be much more than speedsters that often struggle to make the right choice when they have the ball.
They are fine and very muscular on paper in the back, although they don’t have an actual go-to trio and Isak Hien is the only above-average player. Diego Coppola is an interesting prospect but needs some seasoning. On the other hand, the rearguard is often under too much pressure that some cracks are inevitable, even though they generally avoid major blunders.
Thanks to a great home crowd, they are more energetic on their turf than in away fixtures. They were rudderless versus Sampdoria, and it’d be easy pickings for Juventus if they play like that again. Their whole stratagem leans on high intensity, and things get ugly in a hurry when they lack juice. But desperation is a powerful weapon. The great offered the right opportunity to recharge, although they didn’t get much healthier.
3-4-2-1: Montipò; Dawidowicz, Hien, Magnani; Faraoni, Tameze, Veloso, Doig; Ngonge, Duda; Gaich.
Absences: Coppola (suspension), Lazovic (muscle fatigue), Djuric (knee edema), Henry (ACL tear), Hrustic (ankle surgery), Sulemana, Zeefuik.