On Sunday Juventus will host Inter at the Allianz Stadium in Turin for what is expected to be one of the most interesting clashes of the season, and one that might determine the title race over the coming months. Massimiliano Allegri's Juventus team has had a strong start and are currently second in the table with 29 points after 12 games, while Inter are leading the table with 31 points.
While many expected Inter to be there, Juventus' start to the season is more surprising, especially considering thethat could have been damaged the whole dressing room. Here are the reasons why the Bianconeri managed to be there and how they could do so.
Looking at the numbers, Juventus are performing as they should. They have a goal difference of 12 and an expected goal difference of 12.45. They have the second best goal difference in the league, and the second best xG difference in the league and they sit in second place. There's nothing weird, or flukey about their performances. But how they've achieved those performances is interesting.
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They are not a team that rely on possession of the ball, as their percentage of ball possession is only 48.7% so far. The Bianconeri are the only side to have it less than 50% in the current top ten teams of the Serie A table. Juventus have scored 19 goals so far and conceded seven, only Inter have conceded less up to now (six). So, while Juventus have had some issues creating chances and scoring goals, the Bianconeri are very solid when it comes to their defensive actions. This is a team that is successful because they are extremely difficult to break down. They are happy for the opposition to have the ball, knowing that their defense is going to stop them, and then they do just enough in attack to get the points they need.
Allegri, since last year, shifted to a 3-5-2 with a three-back defensive line. Also, this season the Bianconeri can also focus only on the league with no European competitions after their ten-point deduction last season and the agreement reached with UEFA in the summer, all stemming from financial rule breaches that led the former club's board to resign in November 2022.
This is definitely helping the club to make a fresh new start, also with a new sport director since June when Juventus appointed former Napoli boss Cristiano Giuntoli to start a new era despite many financial issues. Giuntoli started to create a squad around the figure of Allegri, who has signed a deal until the summer 2025 when he came back at the club two years ago.
Under Allegri, during his second stint, Juventus don't play an exciting brand of football, but this season in particular the Bianconeri have been very concrete and solid defensively. It's not a coincidence that Juve are the second best defense of the league and are currently fighting for the Scudetto race after winning their last five games in a row. So far, Juventus only lost to Sassuolo away and drew twice against Bologna and Atalanta. In the last seven games, after the 4-2 defeat against Sassuolo, Juventus only conceded one goal, that in their last home game against Cagliari. An impressive defensive record that is definitely explaining their good start.
Juventus had also to face two big off the pitch scandals, as midfielders Paul Pogba and Nicolò Fagioli are not available. Pogba tested positive for enhanced levels of testosterone after the first game of the season against Udinese and has been temporarily suspended, and he's facing a long-term suspension that will be determined in the next months. On the other hand, Fagioli was the first name that emerged for a new betting scandal that is affecting Italian soccer players.
Fagioli will be suspended for seven months, after the Italian midfielder admitted he personally placed bets on illegal platforms on soccer games. The 22-year-old reached an agreement with the Italian FA Prosecutor for a 12-month suspension, with five months being commuted to "alternative prescriptions."
Allegri has also to deal with some injuries, such as the ones of Manuel Locatelli and Juventus' captain Danilo, who won't be available for the key game against Inter. Also, on top of that, the Italian manager made some crucial and much-discussed choices as the one to bench striker Dusan Vlahovic in the last few games, with Moise Kean starting instead of him. It's possible that this kind of decision will also have some consequences in the future, with Vlahovic probably looking for a new project in the summer, but so far Allegri's plan is working. Despite the issues, Juventus are there and on Sunday they will have a big chance to overtake Inter and try to bring the Scudetto back to Turin for the first time since 2020.