We return to league action this weekend with the hope of building upon the comprehensive second half drubbing of Spezia. A match which continued our hapless form for an hour before Pirlo rectified his mistakes and turned the tide instantly. Will he deploy that same side which dominated and looked lively?? Probably not…

The absentee list ebbs and flows, with a likely comeback for Juan Cuadrado, Morata expected to continue gaining sharpness from the bench and Bentancur now added to the unavailable list through testing positive for fragments of COVID molecules in a PCR test now confirmed as wildly inaccurate though still used as the pivot for seismic changes to our lives and futures, whilst mega corporations show staggering profits. We are in this together eh! A brief aside…

‘the PCR, if you do it well, you can find almost anything in anyone.’

‘misuse of it would be to claim that its meaningful’

Mullis clearly states that almost every single known molecule exists somewhere in the human body, with the PCR test very much able to find them. Yet to use this as confirmation of a virus would be misuse.

‘it allows you take a very miniscule amount of anything and then talk about it in meetings like it is important…PCR is used to make a whole lot of something out of something’

‘it doesnt tell you that you are sick, or what you have ended up with is going to hurt you or anything like that’

Back to the football…

Lazio have often caused us bother during these last few seasons. Their high press, swift offensive style with quality in the middle, the flanks and up top provide the very worst combination for our current ‘system’. We have only met once this campaign, the game ending in a 1-1 draw in Rome back in November.

Their form looks poor, at least on paper. For they were humbled by both Inter and the Bayern Machine, and even Bologna put them to the sword 2-0 recently…though no doubt they will raise the game with their visit to Turin. Not a side to be under-estimated. We are too prone to counter-attacks, yet the flip side is that we have the players to capitalise on any side pouring numbers forward and losing possession.

Most curious for me will be to gauge the progress – against a top side – of MilinkovicSavic. Forget Pogba, this is the chap we should be chasing, Add him and Locatelli to this squad and…we will likely vastly improve all over the field. No doubt we will sell Dybala and a few others, so 100m for the two CMs I suggest, add in a natural LM/ MWB (Gosens??) and a young CF back up to Morata such as Scamacca and we look set. With a specialist RB the icing on the cake.

Regardless of any danger Inzaghi’s side can and may pose, this is a must win game if we are to not only hold onto the slim chance of catching Inter, but more pressingly, to ensure we avoid dropping further down the table. Atalanta, who now sit above us, face Inter in a couple of days. Roma have a probable 3 points in the bag at home to Genoa, with AC Milan also likely to take the victory away to Verona.

Team news

Tek will start between the sticks.

Bonucci is probably saved for the Porto game, though may get some minutes late on and Sandro may also be rested – given Danilo is suspended for the Porto tie. The return of Juan ties into this, with the Brazilian likely deployed on the left with Chiesa switched also to that flank. A move I despise, as he has rarely played on the left flank throughout his career…until Pirlo got hold of him. Still, we all know he will give his best and prove a damn nuisance wherever he is deployed.

De Ligt should return to partner Demiral in the middle at the back.

To allow Juan chance to get forward as safely as possible, Ramsey may be brought in to tuck into a RCM position to support. Or Fagioli as a regista with Mckennie tucking in at RCM/AM.

The midfield ‘pivot’ which for me too often looks like a 2 man midfield, especially when we are hit on the break, will see either Mckennie or Fagioli start alongside Rabiot.

Up top, expect to see Ronaldo with Kulu, given Morata is not yet deemed match sharp, though is fit enough to start.

It looks weird, and feels weird to try explain. A RB at LCB. A RWF at LWB/LM. A box to box more offensive CM/AM playing a hybrid role. A RWF at SS.

This is a lot of players in the wrong positions. Some will say this is all forced upon Pirlo, and to a degree, this has merit. Yet there are other options…such as>>>

And what of Freddy B??? After finally showing a decent performance midweek, surely he has a chance of starting??? I would prefer to see him at LM than Chiesa. Who would be superb higher up the field in a front 3 with Juan also attacking on the right from deep. Unlikely, but worth a point of discussion. We simply do not have a natural LM, other than the 99 times out of 100 hapless Bernardeschi. If there is any sense of meritocracy in the selection, do not be surprised to see him starting or appearing yet again with Morata at the hour mark, just to see if the same trick works twice…

Personally speaking, I would replace Kulu with Morata. The team and our cohesion moving up the field and potency in the final third is hugely improved with the spaniard in the line-up. If it were a muscular concern then I would understand resting him further, but it was a virus, which has gone, the benefits of him starting far outweigh any concerns.

Aside from the line-up, I wonder what the opinions can be found in the community of our designated FK taker…With Ronaldo rarely beating the wall, and currently offering a 1/60 goal to Fks ratio (approximately) surely it is time Pirlo instructed others to have a chance? I cannot believe that no other players practice and show value with FKs. Chiesa, Kulu, Ramsey, Morata, Fagioli and of course Dybala (if he ever returns) all should be candidates. Any thoughts?

A fair amount of vibrant locking of horns has abounded of late, many of the regular rumblings of discontent here at ZJ, from myself, and the rest of the community echoing onto the more polished platforms…They must be reading!

As much as I adore Signora Rzouki. She ensorcells me and Matteo is a brave and better man than me for managing, somehow, to avoid her bewitching eyes and melodious femme fatale delivery…and I do not think that Pirlo has suffered abuse. He has received the same criticism any juve manager would receive when we are often playing poorly.

Also, the beguiling sorceress states, then restates twice, that Pirlo has been in charge for ’20 matches’. When I had thought, still conclude, that its 36 matches.

Matteo makes solid points throughout the fiery exchange. Dybala would be a huge miss to a side which played to his strengths. This is not what we saw when he was available…

Fagioli, very small sample size, but he looked promising, many would say even good enough to potentially solve some of our industry over creativity issues in midfield. He should be playing more.

Injuries are not an excuse for the players often turning out with no direction, no cohesion, no hunger. Yes this is as much on the directors as Pirlo, but it is misguided to suggest that Pirlo is doing as well as any manager could with ‘this squad’.

Pre-match Pirlo press conference

Hidden gem/s In The MeGa ROugh>>>