Two defeats in their opening two Serie A fixtures (for the first time since 1912) have left Juventus down, but certainly by no means out of the title race. Last weekend’s high profile humbling in the capital against Roma (predicted by most of the betting exchanges) could be the catalyst to propel the Old Lady onto a record five consecutive domestic league championships.
A FORGETTABLE DAY IN THE CAPITAL
Following on from their opening day home defeat to Udinese which ripped up the “how to bet on football” form-book, Juventus travelled to the Italian capital last weekend to face a Roma side considered by most football betting guides to be their closest challengers for the domestic league title. After a frantic 90 minutes in which the hosts dominated for the majority, coach Massimo Allegri had witnessed another defeat that sent the Italian media into a frenzy of crisis related headlines. Even the great Gigi Buffon had no excuses declaring that; “They played better than us, they dared to go for it and they had courage, we were too timid and we became afraid after a few missed passes.” Not since 1941 has a side lost its opening two fixtures then gone on to win the Italian championship (something that the best football betting sites will have already noted) but this Juventus side is made of stern stuff and there’s no need to press the panic button just yet.
The summer turnover in Turin has been well documented but that is not solely to blame for the clubs early season form. On Sunday, after going two goals down and with only ten men, Juventus almost pulled off the great escape after striker Paulo Dybala halved the deficit before Roma goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny pulled off a world class save in the dying seconds. Allegri has also been without influential midfielder Claudio Marchisio for the opening two fixtures meaning that French superstar Paul Pogba has been floating around the central areas trying to find his best position and ultimately failing to stamp his authority on games. Spanish striker Alvaro Morata , who was so crucial to the team last season, has almost fully recovered from injury and made a cameo appearance on Sunday in place of summer signing Mario Mandžukić who has failed to live up to expectation so far.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
The international break has come at just the right time for Allegri. Marchisio will almost certainly be available for the home game against Chievo in just under two-week’s time and this should mean that the 48-year-old Italian tactician will revert back to the 4-3-1-2 system that served him so well last season, with his two full-backs playing in a more orthodox defensive role. Brazilian playmaker Hernanes, picked up hours before the transfer deadline closed on Monday, excels in playing just behind the strikers in the now fashionable number 10 position and this will allow Pogba to fulfil the role that his coach has earmarked for him this season – being the natural successor to Andrea Pirlo.
By Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)