Juventus v Salernitana Match Preview and Screening -Juvefc.com
An elimination from the Champions League in this way is a real punch, also because it came out of nowhere. The team seemed to have found their groove and, while they had inadvertently let the opposition trail in the first leg, there were few signals pointing to impending doom. Yet, it happened again and Juventus are once again wondering what went wrong, although it was different from the previous two cases.
The Old Lady never really pulled the strings against Olympique Lyonnais and Porto, as they have been decently in charge for most of this season’s round of 16. Nor was it a question of underestimating the opponents, as might have been the case in previous editions. Maybe overconfidence was a slight factor, but not that big.
Juventus were only partly victims of their atavistic problems linked to international competition. They too often have a tendency to raise their ugly heads, like, say, the glass jaw when things start to go wrong or the fact that most of the positioning trends that emerge in the national game go wrong in Europe. But the problems were more mundane and stemmed from this brutal campaign rather than rooted in the past.
Lack of production up front continues to be a problem. Dusan Vlahovic has improved things but it’s hard to ask strikers to be perfect when they only have a handful of chances in each game. Both the team and the coach have major problems reading the different phases of the game and dictating when to press the problem and when to hold back. There were a few stretches in the 180 minutes where they could have broken through by upping the tempo, but they chose not to for unknown reasons. If you’d rather wait for good things to happen than be proactive, you more often than not find yourself on the wrong side of things. It is not true that fights are always decided in their final phase.
It is undoubtedly a devastating look for Massimiliano Allegri, the management, the prestige of the club and its finances. It was a pipe dream to think that Juventus were serious contenders this season. Still, it was only fair to expect something better and a more graceful exit. Other than because of their familiarity with him, the bigwigs appointed the veteran manager because he was believed to have the acumen and experience not to be outmaneuvered in these kinds of encounters and erase the naivety of the past two years. Instead, it didn’t make much of a difference.
It is difficult, but it is essential to overcome disappointment quickly. The coach kept the roster choices close to the vest this time, other than saying Arthur would start, which might not even necessarily be true. Manuel Locatelli is out with COVID-19, so whoever is in better shape between Federico Bernardeschi and Paulo Dybala will get the green light, and Adrien Rabiot or Danilo will play in the centre. Mattia Perin, Luca Pellegrini and Moise Kean have good chances to relieve the starters. Giorgio Chiellini could give it a try.
Juventus (4-4-2): Perin; Danilo, DeLigt, Rugani, Pellegrini; Cuadrado, Arthur, Rabiot, Bernardeschi; Vlahovic, Kean.
Absent: Chiesa (ACL tear), Bonucci, Alex Sandro (calf injury), McKennie (foot fracture), Kaio Jorge (patellar tendon tear), Locatelli (COVID-19).
Salernitana went through a real revolution in January as they finally got a new owner, who brought new management and a new coach. They turned the list upside down. Their performance has improved markedly, but victory continues to elude them.
At least they picked up points through multiple draws. They have lost only once in the last six matches, sharing the spoils with Spezia, Genoa, Milan, Bologna and Sassuolo. They stopped some very good teams too. On the other hand, most of the positive results have come at home and their only loss in the last month was an ugly 0-5 at the hands of Inter at the San Siro.
They are definitely more of a hassle and are unlikely to give up given the character of the new boss. Taming them can take time and patience, and most importantly, proper intensity, given that they usually come out with guns. However, they continue to have visible holes despite the January redesign. The results of the two games initially postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak, against Udinese and Venezia, will be key to their chances of avoiding relegation. They look doomed right now, but they’d be back in the thick of it if they got four points on these.
Nicola imagined a kind of 4-4-2/4-2-3-1, but it’s not a wide formation because they play with a real winger, Simone Verdi, who likes to move a lot. Grigoris Kastanos and Federico Bonazzoli gravitate between the space behind Milan Djuric and the right flank, not allowing the defenders to have clear bearings. The striker has been their best player overall so far. To score seven goals for a team that has created so little offensively for so long is impressive. Plus, he’s been regularly missing time with injuries, and they haven’t committed to him being their go-to man until recently.
Djuric and Bonazzoli complement each other wonderfully. The former takes up a lot of space and keeps centre-backs busy with his massive frame, while the latter exploits the creases and is a very shrewd finisher in the box.
Verdi got off to a flying start after his arrival, but he wasn’t as effective on subsequent outings. He is one of those players who does better with the most touches he receives. He is a threat from set pieces, but his game leaves a bit to be desired in other areas. He and Kastanos make an intriguing duo of point guards and shooters. Franck Ribery is back for this one, but he’s had very little continuity due to physical issues. They might be better off using him like Diego Perotti, who plays around 20 minutes a game, but at a high level.
Their attack has improved in the previous window, thanks to Verdi but mainly thanks to the new strategy, and not necessarily because of the newcomers. Djuric, Bonazzoli and Kastanos were already there, and Lys Mousset and Mikael didn’t knock them down, and their cameos weren’t flashy.
The same cannot be said for the defense, although it has almost completely changed. They signed a new goalkeeper, Luigi Sepe, two centre-backs, Federico Fazio and Radu Dragusin, and a right-back, Pasquale Mazzocchi. However, they remain one of the most combustible back guards in the league. Not because of blunders, although the ex-Roma veteran’s slow pace has hurt them at times. He is often too exposed for reasons that are not entirely clear, as the formation is not that offensive. Their offside trap is audacious given the traits of their contributors. Perhaps the midfield filter is insufficient, but they have tenacious players there, like the two Coulibalys and Ederson.
They will likely hurt their necks in the first quarter, and Juventus will need to match their early fire to avoid being caught off guard. Given their high-energy style and the fact that it’s sandwiched between a Champions League game and the international break, there’s plenty for a trap game. Still, they got a rough ride the last time they visited a top team, so taking care of business might not be too difficult if they’re running with juice and attention.
They salvaged some parts as Mazzocchi is back from a sprained ankle and Ederson won’t run out of time despite leaving early in the last game. It’s still possible that their blunder will knock them off the bench, though. They also have some doubts in the back, as Norbert Gyomber and Matteo Ruggeri are in contention to start.
Salerno (4-2-3-1): Belec; Mazzocchi, Dragusin, Fazio, Ranieri; Radovanovic, Lassana Coulibaly; Kastanos, Bonazzoli, Verdi; Djuric.
Absent: Mousset (ankle sprain), Schiavone (thigh sprain), Strandberg (sports hernia), Veseli (muscle fatigue).