For many fans, Juventus' Champions League opener at home against French champions Bordeaux was a disappointing result to say the least.
So many things that the team had been doing well weren’t executed whatsoever—the defense struggled, the strikers couldn’t score, and the midfield, who had been the anchor of the team, failed to impress.
The result against Bordeaux started the current string of three draws in the last four matches. In that span, Juve have seen their perfect streak in Serie A snapped with a tie against Genoa a week ago and a so-so showing against Bologna this past Sunday.
Instead of facing a team that may be fighting for a spot in Serie A next season, Juve will travel to Germany to face giants Bayern Munich, a team they faced in the group stages back in 2005.
Most of the players from four years ago are different, but the magnitude of the game is still as big as it ever has been.
1. Can the defense contain Bayern’s offensive playmakers?
The biggest question coming into the season is still priority No. 1, if Juventus want to be not only the best team in Italy, but also amongst the best in Europe.
Fabio Cannavaro, who has been very good so far this season, will not be with the squad in Germany, so that means Nicola Legrottaglie will be partnering with Giorgio Chiellini in the center of the defense.
On the wings, Fabio Grosso will return to the left side of the defense after being rested against Bologna. The one selection debate is whether Zdenek Grygera, Martin Caceres, or Jonathan Zebina, who had a solid game against Bologna, will start on the right.
They will be looking to slow down a Bayern attack that, despite being shut out this weekend against Hamburg, has scored 15 goals in five games this month. With firepower that Bayern have on its squad, especially Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben on the wings, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Old Lady's defense busy Wednesday night.
Luckily for Juve, keeper Gianluigi Buffon is back to his old self and is saving basically everything in sight. However, having Buffon perform numerous miracles on the field Wednesday means the defense isn't doing its job.
2. Can Diego work some more of his early season magic?
For the most part, when he has been completely healthy, the impact that Diego has had on the Juve squad has been huge.
The problem with Diego is that he missed the Champions League opener due to injury and just made his comeback against Bologna this past Sunday—a game where he failed to make any kind of big contributions.
When he is completely fit, there are few who can have the impact on a game that Diego has. If the Juve strikers want to get the ball and get the ball often, Diego is going to have to be a major reason why.
He was the big summer buy to give the Bianconeri a better chance of going far into the Champions League. Now is the time where he shows he is up to the task.
3. Can the midfield make a positive impact?
Claudio Marchisio, Felipe Melo, and Mauro Camoranesi will be the three-man midfield playing behind their pint-sized Brazilian teammate.
Each player brings something different to the table and so far they have done their job—Melo with the grit, Camoranesi with the creativity, and Marchisio with the all-around skill. Along with Diego, they form a formidable and difficult group for teams to go up against.
However, when Juve faced Bordeaux faced two weeks ago, the midfield was the weak point in the draw at the Olimpico. Against the five-man midfield of the French champions, the Juve troops couldn’t get much of anything going at all.
Despite that, they still had a very good chance of winning and starting their Champions League season off on a positive note.
If Juve want to win The Allianz, the midfield is going to have to make a bigger impact than they did two weeks ago.
4. Who will start alongside Vincenzo Iaquinta up front?
The stable of strikers that Ferrara has at his disposal hasn’t been very productive as many people thought it would be. Captain Alessandro Del Piero was injured up until the weekend, Amauri can’t seem to break the scoring funk that he has had since the second half of last season, and David Trezeguet hasn’t been in the lineup on a consistent up until recently.
The only striker who has been scoring on a consistent basis has been Vincenzo Iaquinta. He was rested this past weekend and should be fresh and ready to extend his three-game scoring streak that was started against Bordeaux.
Fans may want him to come back now that he has returned to the lineup, but seeing that Del Piero only played 10 minutes in his return to the squad over the weekend, Ferrara likely wont hand him a starting shirt.
Because of this, all signs point to Trezeguet starting against Bayern—who does seem to be rounding into form after not playing at all Juve’s first couple of Serie A fixtures and against Bordeaux.
Against a Bayern defense that can be really good or really bad, generating consistent pressure will be crucial if Juve want to win.
5. Can Juventus put a total 90-minute game together?
Speaking of generating consistent pressure, Sunday’s game against Bologna was the prime example of how Juventus have failed to put a complete game together as of late. The Bianconeri dominated possession in the first half and then tailed off as the second half went on.
Bologna is not even close to being on the same level talent wise with Bayern Munich and if there is another drop in play in any course of the game, Juve will be returning to Turin without any points.
That means that everything discussed will have to be put together—Diego will have to provide the quality of play that he did in the early weeks of the season, the strikers will have to take advantage of the opportunities, and the defense will have to keep the pressure off of Buffon.
Juventus have yet to play the perfect game and they are from being a finished product, but if they want to leave Germany with three points, they are going to have to play a complete game.
Not a perfect game, but a game where they are efficient in all aspects of the game.