An injury crisis has hit Juventus and the Bianconeri could be without several key names for the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie against Villarreal on Tuesday.
While Unai Emery’s technically proficient Yellow Submarine will be no pushover, Juve are expected to qualify for the quarter-finals of Europe’s premier club competition for the first time in three years.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side have been buoyed by new arrivals Dusan Vlahovic and Denis Zakaria and while Friday night’s draw with Torino in the Derby della Mole deflated many, there have been signs of notable improvement since the closure of the January transfer window – even if the manager’s pragmatic principles remain.
However, Tuesday’s task in Spain is poised to be a challenging one as the Bianconeri attempt to mitigate against a plague of injuries.
An injury crisis has hit Juventus ahead of their Champions League round of 16 tie against Villarreal
Paulo Dybala’s fitness has come under scrutiny once more after he was forced off before the hour in Friday’s derby. While some suggested that Dybala’s withdrawal was precautionary, his status for Tuesday’s game is in doubt with Romeo Agresti reporting that the Argentine was suffering from muscle fatigue.
La Gazzetta dello Sport’s Giovanni Albanese is optimistic that La Joya will be fit for the first leg.
Defensively, Juventus have several issues. Alex Sandro was forced into an unfamiliar centre-back role on Friday after Daniele Rugani injured himself in the warm-up. The Italian defender is dealing with a flexor issue, per Agresti.
Rugani’s replacement in the starting XI, Luca Pellegrini, was then forced off at half-time with a knee injury. Like Rugani and Dybala, the left-back’s injury is expected to be minor but all three could nonetheless miss Tuesday’s Champions League clash.
Thus, Allegri will be pleading for Leonardo Bonucci’s return to full fitness. The veteran defender missed the derby with a calf injury and he was seen at J-Medical on Saturday morning. With Giorgio Chiellini already ruled out, Alex Sandro may be forced to start alongside Matthijs de Ligt at centre-back once more should both Bonucci and Rugani not be deemed fit.
The returning Danilo could also be a solution for Allegri at the heart of defence. The Brazilian missed the derby due to suspension.