October 2004: It seems like a normal Wednesday afternoon in school. You’ve had your daily dose of congealed gravy, two disturbingly crunchy spuds and four fish fingers that are – slowly, but surely – giving you at least three terminal illnesses. You’ve been outside playing football with your mates; things got a little too serious after wee Steve went in unnecessarily hard in a tackle, but you let it slide, you’re the bigger man (literally). Now, you’re back in class, trying to eat a pen lid.
Then, out of nowhere, things take a turn for the worse. The teacher calls your name. You look up, praying that they don’t ask a question.
‘What’s the square root of 327?’
Deer, meet headlights.
An impossible question that no one in the room – not even the teacher – knows the answer to, asked to you.
You fumble for words. You contemplate just running out of the classroom. You do.
This is what we would imagine would happen if a reporter were to ask Maurizio Sarri what Juventus’ best XI is. He doesn’t really seem to know the answer to that question.
‘[Cutting in] The square root of 327?’
No, no, what Juventus’ best XI is. Keep up.
Wojciech Szczesny (GK) – Despite Gianluigi Buffon returning to the club, big Szczesny is one of the very few nailed on, should definitely play week in, week out, players in the Juventus squad. He’s brilliant; better than Bernd Leno and every other goalkeeper Arsenal have utilised since they, ridiculously, sold him.
Mattia De Sciglio (RB) – Right back is – as you can tell by the fact that Mattia De Sciglio is starting – a bit of a problem position for Juventus.
Selling Joao Cancelo probably wasn’t the best idea in the world…especially if your replacement for him is Danilo (who’s sh*t).
Merih Demiral (CB) – “When you know, you know. You know?”
That’s what Gavin Shipman said when he told his dad that he was marrying the love of his life in the British sitcom Gavin & Stacey,
In the space of just 90 minutes of a friendly, Juve’s first ever Turkish player became a fan favourite.
This isn’t the only reason Demiral should start however. The main reason the new-fan favourite should start for Juve is because he’s as close to a like-for-like replacement for Giorgio Chiellini as you can find in Turin.
Alongside either Matthijs de Ligt or Leonardo Bonucci (we’ll get to that in a second), La Vecchia Signora need someone who spits sawdust, eats nails, and scares the living daylights out of every forward on the peninsula. Demiral does all these things.
Leonardo Bonucci (CB) –
Matthijs de Ligt is the best young defender we’ve seen in quite some time. In fact, he’s probably the best since Paolo Maldini burst onto the scene as a two-year-old way back in 1985.
However, it’s become abundantly clear in recent weeks that De Ligt and Leonardo Bonucci are too similar to play alongside one another.
‘Well then why not drop Bonucci?!’
Bonucci is more experienced; it’s as simple as that really. If Juve start Demiral, they need an old, been there, done that head beside him. That’s Bonucci.
Alex Sandro (LB) – Back to his best (FINALLY), Alex Sandro should, and will be, a nailed on starter for Sarri this season.
Aaron Ramsey (CM) –
Will Aaron Ramsey be the answer to this problem?
Maybe…if he can stay fit.
If – and that is a big IF – Ramsey can stay fit, he will star in Turin.
He’s the big game player Juve’s midfield has been crying out for since Paul Pogba left the club; the player that can transform a lethargic midfield into a dynamic one.
Rodrigo Bentancur (CM) – In the sitting role, we give the nod to Rodrigo Bentancur.
The Uruguayan youngster was, at times, a revelation at Juventus last season. He could take the next step toward superstardom if he’s given the opportunity to make the regista (look at that football hipster lingo, it’s beautiful) role his own.
Miralem Pjanic (CM) – Bentancur playing at the heart of the midfield would mean a slight role change for Pjanic.
This move away from the heart of the midfield and into a more box-to-box role could be the making of the Bosnian.
Free from those pesky defensive responsibilities (which he can’t really perform). Free from sideways passes. Free from all the things holding him back at Juventus, Pjanic can become more of a prominent feature in the final third for the club, and finally use that banging right to score a few more goals. Tidy.
Paulo Dybala (CAM) – Not that long ago Paulo Dybala was rightfully declared as the ‘next great number ten’ after scoring two cracking goals against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League.
Now, he’s a bench warmer.
So, what in the holy honourable Jesus happened?
Well, Juventus started to utilise the 4-3-3 formation, and it’s all but killed his career in Turin.
So, how in the holy honourable Jesus do you revive it?
Play a 4-3-1-2. Give him the trequartista (more football hipster lingo, beautiful) role. Nurture the biggest talent the club has had on its books this decade. Simple.
Gonzalo Higuain (ST) – The Argentine has fought tooth and nail to save his Juventus career, a
He may still carry the weight of the ‘big game bottler’ tag he’s been unfairly given by people who literally haven’t seen the guy play in five years (rant over), but he is actually a world class forward. His goal against Napoli proves that.
Cristiano Ronaldo (ST) – Of course CR7 is in this starting XI; he’s one of the best footballers of all time.
In this starting XI however, he’s been given a slight role change.
Usually starting from the left flank, Ronaldo pretty much always ends up deciding to play up through the middle anyways, so we’ve decided to just move him there. You’re welcome CRon.