The loss to Atalanta was arguably the most crushing one so far. And not only for its devastating impact on the standings. Juventus came to play and measured up with one of the toughest opponents in the League. Yet, it still was not enough, which makes things all more disheartening. A small blunder and a few inches, on both ends, decided the game.
The Bianconeri were decent and created enough to come away with points, while the Bergamaschi capitalized on their only shot on goal. That is the difference between having a great center-forward that makes the most of his chances and a team that basically has to carry the ball over the line to score. Despite the grim situation, the Old Lady should keep up the spirit shown Saturday, and they should be rewarded as the schedule eases up. However, that has proven to be stunningly challenging against the minnows.
The pure 4-3-3 looked pretty good and even well-rehearsed, with a ton of width and room for players to do their own thing. After all, due to the lack of a choral play, the bursting runs are the top weapon of the Bianconeri. It almost paid off again. However, since we apparently can not have nice things this year, Federico Chiesa will be out for a while, and Weston McKennie got hurt too.
Luckily it does not seem anything serious for the young American, but the system can not work properly without those two pieces. They were the pillars that made the tactic work. Federico Bernardeschi and Dejan Kulusevski could maybe adapt to the left flank, but it would not be the same. A similar level of dangerousness could be maybe maintained with Moise Kean, who did play there in the past tilt, but he has shown little of note to justify a bigger role. The defensive drawbacks might be too big to stomach, as the formation is already at a deficit on that side due to Alex Sandro and Adrien Rabiot’s frequent lapses.
As for the midfield, if McKennie misses time, with Rodrigo Bentancur looking so lost recently, the only option to maintain a viable three-man line would be moving Manuel Locatelli to box-to-box. It would be easier if Arthur showed some signs of life; otherwise, Bentancur could be the anchor focusing on the dirty work and leaving the distribution to the others. But it is a ragtag solution. The way to go till January will probably be Paulo Dybala-centric, and that is only fair. Even though he was still lively, involved, and threatening with 4-3-3, he is more at ease as a pure second striker.
As if things were not going bad enough, the plusvalenze investigation dropped over the weekend. It only adds to a proper season for hell for Juventus, and it will be open season on the papers for some time. Some deals were clearly shady under Fabio Paratici, but we will see whether anything really illegal happened. The times of justice do not go well with the current era of speculations and short attention span.
In any case, it would not be a negative if ownership overhauled the club’s leadership, something that was done only partially over the summer. Considering the Super League fiasco and all the other controversies, there is just too much baggage at this point, without mentioning the glaring errors on the sporting side. If Juventus really want to open a new cycle, they should hire a seasoned Giuseppe Marotta-like executive with broad shoulders that can stir things in the right direction.
Juventus (4-4-2): Szczesny; Cuadrado, Bonucci, Chiellini, Alex Sandro; Bernardeschi, Bentancur, Locatelli, Rabiot; Dybala, Morata.
Injuries: Chiesa, De Sciglio, Danilo (thigh strains), McKennie (knee sprain), Ramsey (thigh injury).
Since day one, Salernitana have not really been in position to succeed, and, in fact, they have not. Lazio president Claudio Lotito had to relinquish the team since it is not allowed to own two in the same division. He instituted a trust while trying to find a buyer, which they have not yet, and therefore a giant cloud continues to hang over everything. The deadline comes in just over a month; otherwise, they could be excluded from Serie A. It will probably not come to thank thanks to the Italian habit of delaying things, but it remains a messy situation that has made even more complicated an already challenging season.
Despite having to self-finance with the TV money, prizes, and such, they have still been able to pull off a few interesting purchases. Unfortunately for them, their biggest investment has not paid off as Simy has been nowhere near the magnificent player he was at Crotone. In his partial defense, his former side used a significantly more proactive style, allowing him to have plenty of chances, while Salernitana generally have to scrounge for scoring opportunities. But he has also visibly lacked fitness and missed some freebies he would have bagged in the past campaign.
The rest of the roster was mostly put together through free agents and loans, with Franck Ribery being the belle of the ball. He has been okay when he has managed to get on the pitch, but he is not enough on his own to elevate the whole squad. Plus, given his age and lack of pre-season preparation, it has been difficult for him to stay healthy. However, the class is still there, and he single-handedly gives them a little credibility.
The injury bug has hit them hard, especially recently. In particular, Stefan Strandberg and Mamadou Coulibaly being out has severely hampered them since they are the best contributors in their respective roles. They also lost Cedric Gondo in the most recent fixture, and he is one of their peppiest players up front.
They have already gone through one coaching change, from Fabrizio Castori to Stefano Colantuono. It may not be the last, but they would need Jurgen Klopp to really make a difference given their structural flaws. While the results have not improved all that much, the new manager has brought them into the 21st century after the extensive use of Catenaccio by the previous one. They now deploy generally 4-3-1-2, mixing up some 4-4-2 and going back to 3-5-2 only when absences did not make other schemes feasible.
On paper, the one-two punch formed by Ribery and Simy is one of the best down low. In reality, it has not panned out due to the issues of the Nigerian forward. He has been outplayed by Milan Djuric, who is a better reference point for the offense even though not as gifted as a finisher, and Federico Bonazzoli, whose grit and goals out of the blue have often been their best asset. The rest of the lineup boasts the typical muscularity of this zone of the standings with very little oomph.
They have a few solid players, like Riccardo Gaglliolo, Luca Ranieri, Joel Obi, and Lassana Coulibaly, so the infrastructure could be there to go on a run if the supposed difference-makers ever got into a groove. They play with decent fire at home, where the fan base is fully behind them and very loud. However, they have been able to pick up points only against Genoa, Venezia, Cagliari, and oddly Verona so far, which says something, and have gone down relatively quickly against the top teams. After all, they have conceded the most goals and scored the least, which is a terrible combination. Ribery is in doubt due to a recent illness: he would start if good to go, but the coach sounded a little pessimistic about his chances. They do not have a real backup for him, so they will probably have to tilt their usual scheme. If Grigoris Kastanos and Andrea Schiavone both make it, Joel Obi could play in the hole.
Salernitana (4-4-2): Belec; Zortea, Gyomber, Gagliolo, Veseli; Kechrida, L.Coulibaly, Di Tacchio, Ranieri; Djuric, Bonazzoli.
Injuries: Ruggeri (thigh strain), Strandberg (muscle fatigue), Gondo (thigh injury).