Tottenham Hotspur v Juventus
Friendly– Saturday, 5th August – 17:30 GMT – Wembley Stadium
The ‘friendly’ against Roma was enjoyable to watch as we finally got to see the new summer signings getting a run-out while getting a better look at how Allegri might field the team for the season ahead.
Granted, it’s hard to take away too much from a game that has little meaning, but there were some positive points to the ‘victory’ over Roma in Boston, and the whole run of friendlies that we’ve taken part in over the course of the US tour.
The most obvious benefit has been the inclusion of the newest players, namely Mattia De Sciglio, Douglas Costa, Federico Bernardeschi and Bob Szczesny, all of whom have featured at some stage throughout the games against Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Roma, respectively. Each has arrived in a different condition and state of preparedness for the long year ahead, so getting to assess them at an individual level and prepare their training regime (as in the case of Costa) has been beneficial, as well as seeing them get a few minutes of playing time on the pitch.
One of the more positive moments from the game in Boston was the return to form of Claudio Marchisio who looked ever more like his old self in the centre of the pitch. It’s all too easy to start throwing around the clichés of him being ‘like a new signing’, ‘back to his best’ etc. but there’s an element of truth to it. There were suggestions that I Principino wouldn’t return from injury as the player he was before, but the game’s he’s featured in have given real cause for optimism.
Daniele Rugani joined up with the team and was pitched straight in at the deep end, partnering Benatia from the start against Roma and looking like he hadn’t missed a beat. In all honesty, whether he had been at fault for 3 goals or turned in a stellar peformance, it really wouldn’t have mattered – It’s simply a good thing to see him playing. He needs the minutes, even in a meaningless friendly, to make mistakes, to be at his best, to grow as a player – He’s spent far too long on the side-lines as a spectator.
The left flank looked solid as always with big Mario running things and Alex Sandro providing the perfect assist for the opener, and while it was exciting to see Douglas Costa get a run out on the right, Juan Cuadrado really impressed me. He has a tendency to turn in a few great performances before losing his head in a game that really matters or simply not delivering after doing all the hard work to get into the opponents half. With Costa around, they’ll be some healthy competition for starting spots so perhaps/hopefully we’ll see a more improved and consistent Juan in the season ahead. No one can fault his work rate, it’s just certain aspects of his game that he needs to work on.
Alongside all this we saw Dybala and Higuain linking up with regularity and looking like they’ve got an even better understanding of each other than in the season before, as well as another brief cameo from Rodrigo Bentancur who looks full of promise.
Next up, a trip to London to face Spurs at Wembley and an opportunity to see more from the likes of Bernardeschi and Costa. There’s no real indication of how Allegri will field his side, so there’s a degree of guesswork – I suspect Buffon will start in goal with De Sciglio on the right, Benatia and Rugani in defence and Alex Sandro at left-back. Khedira needs some minutes, as does Pjanic while Cuadrado and Mandzukic will probably play on the wings with Dybala and Higuain making up the attack.
Portieri: Buffon, Del Favero, Pinsoglio
Difensori: Alex Sandro, Barzagli, Benatia, Chiellini, De Sciglio, Lichtsteiner, Rugani
Centrocampisti: Asamoah, Bentancur, Cuadrado, Khedira, Lemina, Marchisio, Pjanic, Rincon
Attaccanti: Bernardeschi, D. Costa, Dybala, Higuain, Kean, Mandzukic
4-2-3-1: Buffon; De Sciglio, Chiellini, Rugani, Alex Sandro; Khedira, Pjanic; Costa, Dybala, Mandzukic; Higuain.