The overall discourse around Juventus as both a team and a club this season has been negative, and for good reason. The football has been boring, and the club was docked 15 points for capital gains fraud.
That points penalty has since been suspended and they are in great shape to make the top four. There is reason for Juventus fans to think that they will enjoy watching their team more often next season, given the emergence of a number of promising youngsters, and the return from long-term injuries for two players that should be influential when next season comes around.
Blend of youngsters and returning stars hints at Juventus’ future
There was a bigger picture sense about Juventus‘ Matchday 35 clash with Cremonese. The Bianconeri took to the field wearing their new kit with an aggressive amount of yellow trim, and it was a starting lineup that fans have not seen all season.
It featured a start for Paul Pogba and Federico Chiesa together after an injury-ravaged campaign, whilst Federico Gatti was trusted in defence again with Nicolo Fagioli making up part of the midfield.
There were early signs that Juventus could be a more creative team next season than they are right now. Pogba was central to all of their attacking player in the opening 20 minutes. Whilst clear-cut chances were lacking, the play was focused on the left channel where Chiesa, Pogba and Vlahovic seemed capable of entertaining.
With a renewed focus on youth this season at Juventus, players like Fagioli and Gatti now barely stand out in a senior Juventus side, and the same will likely be the case for the likes of Fabio Miretti and Samuel Iling-Junior. 20-year-old Tommaso Barbieri was the latest Next Gen player to come on for Juve, getting a 10-minute run out near the end.
This was shown in emphatic fashion shortly into the second half when Chiesa danced into the box and laid it to the edge where Fagioli was waiting to hit a wonderful shot into the roof of the net. A header from Gleison Bremer, a quietly astute piece of summer business, sealed the points and a 2-0 win late on.
Pogba’s first start of the season ends in major distress but with promising signs
Fans were understandably thrilled to see that Paul Pogba would be starting his first game since April 2022. The Frenchman has had a smattering of substitute appearances this season after recovering from a major knee injury that led to surgery. Various other muscle injuries have cropped up since returning, as is commonplace after such a long time out of action.
This was just his sixth appearance of the season but the Frenchman began by showing why he could still be such an asset to the team. He was lively, looking for the ball, taking risks, and was clearly the player that Juve looked for when they got the ball.
It all came to a heartbreaking and premature end though on 24 minutes when Pogba floated a cross into the box and immediately pulled up. He appeared to be in tears before even hitting the deck and was quick to pull his shirt over his face, the universal sign that a player is really distraught.
He was taken off on his first Serie A start since May 2016 and replaced by Arkadiusz Milik, with Angel Di Maria getting off the subs bench to accompany a fragile Pogba down the tunnel. At 30 years of age, there is no reason Pogba cannot overcome these muscle injuries and come back as a crucial part of the team next season. All signs point to him being there next season, and there isn’t an international tournament to contend with.
If Juve can line up next season with a team that consists of a fit and sharp Pogba, Chiesa and Vlahovic, whilst enjoying the development of Fagioli, Gatti, Miretti, Iling-Junior and maybe more, there’s every chance fans will start to like the new shirt they saw against Cremonese.