We continue our blog post series with Danny from https://www.blackwhitereadallover.com/ - providing expertise on the Old Lady, especially with a focus on their Champions League campaign. A few words from Danny:
“Black & White & Read All Over (BWRAO) has been around for a little over a decade now, and I’ve been running the show over there for pretty much that entire time. We’ve seen a lot of good times (nine straight Serie A titles) and now, unfortunately, some bad times (the current version of Juventus). But for me, even though it involves waking up at weird hours since I live on the West Coast and so many time zones away from Italy, the thing that keeps me coming back is the stupid team that I root for even though they haven’t exactly had many good times lately.
I think the best thing about BWRAO outside of the fact that we provide a unique view on Juventus even though we’re not physically in Turin is that pretty much all of our writers have been with the site for a while. Our readers and regular commenters know us and we know them. We like the fact that we’ve got such a dedicated community even though we don’t always agree with what each other has to say all the time. And ever since we started up a podcast a few years ago — during COVID lockdown was a great time to do that, wasn’t it? — we’re able to provide some more personality as well.”
Paul: Juventus have had a tough start in their UCL campaign and a slow start in general. How do you feel they’ll recover in the group stage? Do you back them to still go through?
Danny: That’s the million dollar question right now because we don’t know if they will actually recover. Things are not good right now — whether it’s the injury situation, the manager who’s in charge and the decisions he’s making and the overall vibe around the squad. Juventus is not having a very good season to date and it says a lot about how the team is playing is that the international break is a nice respite from the constant frustration Juve has provided lately.
At this point, we’ve probably asked ourselves “Is this rock bottom?” after the last four or five games simply because of how poor Juve’s been. The loss to Benfica put them in a terrible spot in the group — not only do they pretty much need to win out to get to the Champions League knockout rounds, but they also need some help along the way. I’m not optimistic that Juve’s going through because being six points behind PSG and Benfica already is just an awful spot to be in. But this team has pulled a rabbit out of its hat before, so maybe this time they can pull a grizzly bear out of Max Allegri’s hat or something. I don’t know, though.
Paul: How do you rate the 3-5-2 formation Juventus have deployed so far? They have struggled against teams who press them and it’s led to errors in their play. Will they try the 343 from the beginning of games instead of switching late on?
Danny: Juve’s struggled against the press for what feels like the last half-decade, and maybe that is an understatement. You would think that they would have learned by now, but they haven’t! I don’t think it’s really a formation issue at this point, honestly. The thing that is the No. 1 problem with Juventus besides all of the injuries to important players like Paul Pogba, Federico Chiesa and others is the fact that Max Allegri is stuck in a different era tactically and shows absolutely no interest in having his team play any other way. It doesn’t matter if it’s 3-5-2, 3-4-3 or 4-3-3 right now, Allegri’s ultra-conservative tactics are what’s holding this team back the most right now. They’ve got an absolute tank in Dusan Vlahovic up front yet he can’t get any sort of consistent service to try and put up the kind of goal numbers he did before his move to Juventus last January.
Paul: How do you rate Juventus’s signings over the summer?
Danny: The unfortunate thing about Juve’s summer mercato is that it’s more about what the signings haven’t done rather than how they’ve improved the team. Paul Pogba got hurt after the first friendly and has since had knee surgery, Angel Di Maria has been in and out of the lineup (and is now suspended for a couple of games after getting sent off vs. Monza) and Filip Kostic has been a mixed bag since coming in to try and improve the service on the left wing.
If I had to choose a summer signing that has actually played well, it’s probably been Arek Milik simply because I didn’t have many expectations for him after he was brought in to, at least we thought, be a backup to Dusan Vlahovic. He has scored some nice goals while, like Vlahovic, not exactly gotten a ton of service up front. For me, he’s been one of the bright spots of the summer mercato, which pretty much tells you all you need to know about how Juve’s summer business has worked out thus far.
Paul: What are the UCL fantasy prospects going forward? Who specifically would you back if Juventus are to turn it around?
Danny: I would probably go with the two Serbians, Vlahovic and Kostic, as two fantasy guys to look at for obvious reasons. Like I said, there are so many important players out injured and not really expected back before the World Cup break — mainly Federico Chiesa and Paul Pogba — that it’s a lot of the same names in the starting lineup most of the time.
When Vlahovic is rolling, he can score goals in bunches. When Kostic is rolling, he can grab assists in bunches. For my Juventus fandom, I sure hope those two things happen at the same time. Maybe the same can be said for your fantasy team, too.
Paul: I highly appreciate you taking the time to provide your expertise. Is there is anything else you would like add or say to our readers?
Danny: I would like Juventus to stop playing like it’s a different era of Serie A football because they can be a good team! But they’re not right now, and Max Allegri is the biggest reason why. And the most unfortunate part is that those who make the decisions either don’t realize this or aren’t willing to suck up their pride and pull the trigger on some type of managerial change.
In case you missed them, check out the previous Q & A articles on NMA by clicking on the club name: Bavarian Football Works: Bayern Munich Blog, Cartilage Free Captain: Spurs, We Ain’t Got No History: Chelsea, Into the Calderon: Atletico, Barca Blaugranes: Barcelona, and Serpents of Madonnina: Inter Milan.
Are you backing Juventus to recover and find form, especially in the Champions League?