The news made official on Monday moved the whole of Italian football. Great architect of the victory of the Squadra Azzura at the Euro last summer, Federico Chiesa will spend the rest of the season on the flank after injuring his ligaments last weekend in the league. Italy will have to do without him for the World Cup play-offs in March. Juventus, for its part, is even more annoyed because it will have to do without one of its best players for many months. Starting with this Wednesday, January 12 against Inter Milan, on the occasion of the Italian Super Cup.
This duel for a trophy will be played between Juve, the most popular club in Italy, and its gravedigger, Inter, who ended their series of nine consecutive Serie A titles last year. from this hegemony, the Old Lady wavers. After a very disappointing 4th place last year, the 2021-2022 season was to be that of reconquest for Juve, embodied by the return to the bench of Massimiliano Allegri, winner of five Scudetti with the club between 2015 and 2019.
It is however a new season of galleys that the Turin club is going through. Like this serious injury to Chiesa, which tarnished a victory obtained in the snatch on Sunday evening on the lawn of AS Roma (4-3), at the end of a totally crazy scenario which saw Juve be led 3 goals to 1 before coming back. A success that confirmed Juve’s best period in recent weeks, with seven games without defeat in the league.
This fragile balance could however be impacted by the long-term absence of Chiesa. “It was the soul of this team. Losing it at that time, when Juve regains the hair of the beast, it will inevitably put a blow in the back of the head“, assures Guillaume Maillard-Pacini, specialist in Italian football. Against Inter this Wednesday evening, Juve will have to do without Chiesa, but also without Matthijs de Ligt and Juan Cuadrado, both suspended.
“They are quite simply Juve’s three best players since the start of the season“, emphasizes Johann Crochet, correspondent in Italy for RMC Sports. But even in their presence, Juve have provided few guarantees since the start of the season. The attack is at half mast: with 32 goals scored in 21 league games, the Old Lady has achieved its worst attacking exercise since the 1999-2000 season, at this time of year.
“The attack is the big project of Juve“, maintains Guillaume Maillard-Pacini. And if the Piedmontese club finds so little the way of the nets, it is because”with Allegri, there is no desire to develop the game, but more to rely on individuals who will make a difference in front of“, according to Johann Crochet. Chiesa, with his power and determination, thus represented one of Juve’s key players.
Paulo Dybala, decisive against Roma last weekend, is also. But since the start of the 2020-2021 season, the Argentinian has only played 37% of the minutes played by his club in all competitions. Juventus therefore gropes in the offensive sector, orphan of Cristiano Ronaldo who left last summer, when facing Inter Milan. The last Italian champion represents the “attacking turn that changed mentalities in Italy“.”Fans expect teams to promote great play from now on“, assures Guillaume Maillard-Pacini.
0 – It’s only the second time in their last 52 seasons in Serie A that Juventus have failed to win any of their first 3 top-flight games, after 2015/16. Blocked. pic.twitter.com/1L03y25H3M
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) September 11, 2021
Against the tide, Allegri has stuck to his guns since his return. Without questioning, with the certainty of being able to win as he has already done in the past with Juventus. However, the Old Lady only occupies 5th place in Serie A, the club’s worst record since the 2010-2011 season after 21 days. “A victory in the Italian Super Cup against Inter would really offer a breath of fresh air to the whole club“, argues the Italian football specialist, “because this is the most difficult period Juve have been going through since the arrival of President Andrea Agnelli (in 2010, editor’s note)”.
To make matters worse, in addition to sporting difficulties, the boss of Juve is targeted, along with five other club leaders, by an investigation by the Italian financial prosecutor’s office into questionable transfers made by the Old Lady. 42 operations intended to inflate the coffers of Juve are in the sights, and even if other Italian clubs are also affected, the Turin team is the one which stirs up the most tensions.
“The image of the club is affected and it does not help the serenity of the group of players because they breathe this atmosphere which is not serene.“, assures Guillaume Maillard-Pacini. In this difficult and sometimes nauseating context, the players of Allegri are trying to unite. The coach tried, at a press conference on Tuesday, to defuse the negative effect of a potential defeat against at Inter on Wednesday.
— Juventus FC (@juventusfc) January 11, 2022
“Whatever the result, it should not have an impact on the performance we have been doing for two months“, warned Allegri, aware of the limits of his team. And even if against Inter, Juve have lost only once in the last twelve confrontations between the two teams. And if the Turin coach has held to play down a potential defeat, there is no doubt that this Italian Super Cup is an important step for Juve and that a trophy would reassure a team far from sure of its fact this season.