Massimiliano Allegri would’ve taken a long hard look at his Juventus squad after they succumbed to their heaviest ever Champions League defeat on Tuesday.
It was a chastening night at Stamford Bridge for the Bianconeri. One they’ll want to forget in a hurry. A victory against an in-form Atalanta side on Saturday will go a long way in relieving the shame.
Allegri has several key decisions to make regarding team selection. The manager has two players returning to the fold, while he must consider the tactical questions raised by La Dea’s approach. His selection of personnel will be crucial, especially after Tuesday, and here’s what we think he’ll go for in regards to his starting XI for Saturday’s Serie A fixture.
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Wojciech Szczesny (GK) – Szczesny was Juve’s ‘best’ performer against the Blues despite conceding four. There’s no doubt he’ll start between the sticks on Saturday having impressively overcome his torrid start to 2021/22.
Juan Cuadrado (RB) – Juventini need a bounce-back performance from Cuadrado after he was schooled by young Callum Hudson-Odoi in the week. Against another three-at-the-back side, it’ll be interesting to see how his role alters from the Chelsea defeat. I suspect he’ll be given little freedom to roam in an attacking sense.
Leonardo Bonucci (CB) – No Juventus player has more Serie A goals than Bonucci this season (three) and only Paulo Dybala can match his tally. That’s quite worrying, right? It is. Nevertheless, the Juve skipper will retain his place in the backline on Saturday.
Matthijs de Ligt (CB) – It wasn’t De Ligt’s finest hour at the Bridge, but it was a mere blemish in what’s been an impressive season up to this point. With Giorgio Chiellini only just returning to training, the Dutchman should retain his place alongside Bonucci. His duel with Duvan Zapata will go a long way in determining Saturday’s outcome, you feel.
Luca Pellegrini (LB) – Luca Pellegrini should start, he really should. Allegri acknowledged the young left-back’s development in recent weeks, but he confirmed that he’s yet to decide whether he’ll start on Saturday. Alex Sandro has been the first-choice this season, but surely the manager’s lost some faith in the veteran following his miserable outing on Tuesday.
Federico Chiesa (RM) – Chiesa was never going to trouble Chelsea on Tuesday. He was forced too deep as a result of Reece James’ persistent forays. The Blues did a great job at bottling up the Italian, although Chiesa impressed last weekend against Lazio, especially on the counter-attack. Against an Atalanta side that typically surrender space in defensive transition, Chiesa should thrive.
Manuel Locatelli (CM) – Locatelli didn’t disgrace himself at the Bridge, and he’ll be imperative for Juventus on Saturday. The Italian international’s one of few who’ll be able to cope with La Dea’s man-orientation, although there’s the potential of him being completely nullified by the visitors. However, the recent variation shown in Juve’s build-up gives me hope that Locatelli will be able to get on the ball and aid ball progression.
Weston McKennie (CM) – The ranch-lover performed admirably from a difficult function against Chelsea, and he was arguably Juve’s best outfielder on the night. The American relished the fight, unlike the vast majority of his teammates. Nevertheless, following his ventures as a de facto wing-back in west London, McKennie’s expected to return to the pivot on Saturday.
Federico Bernardeschi (LM) – God, I really hope Federico Bernardeschi is chucked right back into the XI following his brief injury lay-off. Otherwise, we’ll be subject to another Adrien Rabiot masterclass in anonymity. I have a bad feeling the Frenchman will get the start, but I’m praying it’s the Italian.
Paulo Dybala (SS) – Juventus were 3-0 down in the week by the time Paulo Dybala was introduced. After missing the Lazio victory due to a minor calf issue, Allegri expects La Joya to be in his starting XI against Atalanta. The real question is who will partner him?
Moise Kean (ST) – While the manager could retain his faith in Alvaro Morata – who isn’t solely responsible for his woes – but we think it’s time for Kean to earn a start this weekend. The young Italian’s return to Turin is yet to ignite but he looked as bright as he’s been all season off the bench against Lazio last weekend. His ability to penetrate in behind would be handy against Atalanta’s high defensive line.