Inexperienced Federico Bernardeschi may get Juventus chance vs. Fiorentina
Cutting inside from the left flank, Fiorentina's Federico Chiesa curled a shot with his right foot into the far top corner from the edge of the box. The crowd in the Stadio Artemio Franchi exploded into joy. Chiesa's spectacular goal against Bologna last week looked remarkably like the ones his father and Viola legend Enrico Chiesa used to score.
On Tuesday morning, both the faces of the younger Chiesa and Federico Bernardeschi made it to the front page of Quotidiano Sportivo. Friends and once-upon-a-time teammates, the two will now face off as foes when Juventus host Fiorentina on Wednesday evening.
The preview narrative of this match has long revolved around the animosity that exists between the two sides, but QS instead focused on the potential challenge between two youngsters who may well represent the future of the Nazionale. One is scoring spectacular goals for Fiorentina, but the other is the most underused new purchase at Juventus.
Bernardeschi has been used sparingly by Massimiliano Allegri. Some suggest he is yet to understand the mentality required to play at such a big club with such high expectations, while others believe he just needs a little time to integrate to the tactics and produce his best.
Whether he is losing possession, overrunning balls or struggling to provide balance, the youngster has yet to prove he is ready to be counted upon, but considering the heavy workload and Allegri's hints on the need for rotation, the attacker may well find himself facing his old club.
One player Allegri cannot bench is Paulo Dybala. After a disappointing performance against Barcelona, the Argentina international returned to winning ways on Sunday, guiding Juventus to a 3-1 win over Sassuolo by scoring a hat trick and a sensational one at that. Absorbing all the criticism from the Catalan disaster, the youngster dazzled as he glided across the pitch, overwhelmed the defence and produced the kind of skill reserved for the world's best. Back to back hat tricks away from home, Dybala is the first Bianconero to score in each of the first four Serie A games of the season, totalling eight in four matches.
One journalist softly whispered: "I've run out of superlatives" when discussing the player's performance. Such insane talent can only be praised and worshipped and yet many, perhaps too many, Juventus fans sighed. It's all good and well to score hat tricks against the likes of Sassuolo and a beaten down Genoa side, but where are the goals, the precision and the ambition against the likes of Barcelona?
Considering his domestic performances, it's not right to criticise the youngster. He still has time to provide the consistency required of him and if Allegri and the fans are happy to be patient with Gonzalo Higuain as he attempts to get back to his goal-scoring ways then we must be patient with Dybala and those performances on the big occasions.
Both Dybala and Higuain should start the match against the Viola on Wednesday evening and while we can almost predict a defensive calamity, at least Allegri can rely on the attack to overwhelm the opponent and score goals. Having scored 13 goals in four Serie A games, a feat Juventus haven't managed since the 1959-60 campaign, Allegri has warned that this is a new side with a different focus due to the different type of players he now boasts.
It's bizarre to watch Juventus battle defensively, looking so unorganised and vulnerable at the back. Meanwhile, in the final third, the players dazzle. Combining's Mario Mandzukic's sacrifice with Juan Cuadrado's pace, Dybala's skill, Higuain's movement and Douglas Costa's acceleration allow Juventus to pierce most, if not all, defences. And we have yet to really see what Bernardeschi and Marko Pjaca can introduce to the mix.
The problem is that while such an attacking side can defeat most teams in Serie A, it may not do so well in Europe. The midfield cannot control the game in ways teams such as Barcelona and Real Madrid can while Juve's leaky defence can be exploited by even the mediocre sides. Attacking football and goals are entertaining but defence wins you trophies. Unless Allegri can solve the conundrum at the back, Juve may well struggle on the big occasions, especially considering how Higuain and Dybala perform in highly-pressurised situations.
Against the Viola, it appears Allegri will rely on Andrea Barzagli and Mehdi Benatia in the centre of defence with Kwadwo Asamoah and Stephan Lichtsteiner in the fullback roles. Hopefully they can avoid producing any disasters at the back and allow Juve's offence to take centre stage in what should be a highly-entertaining match between two good teams.
Mina Rzouki covers Juventus and the Italian national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter: @Minarzouki.