Italy hero Chiesa battling for Juve spot ahead of Chelsea visit
Federico Chiesa has started his second season at Juventus with an uncertain position in coach Massimiliano Allegri’s plans despite being one of the heroes of Italy’s Euro 2020 triumph.
Six matches into the Serie A season Chiesa has started in fewer games than he did helping Italy win this summer’s European Championship, with Allegri focussing on Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata as the lynchpins of his Juve attack.
However, with that pair injured and out of Wednesday’s Champions League visit from defending champions Chelsea, Chiesa will be among those looking to profit with another decisive performance.
He levelled the scores in Juve’s 3-2 win at Spezia midweek with a typical piece of skill and persistence, nutmegging Dimitrios Nikolaou before forcing home his only goal of the season so far.
However, he caused fury in Allegri on Sunday when he wasted a glorious chance to score with Juve a goal ahead in a tight 3-2 win over Sampdoria.
The 23-year-old received a cute pass from Italy teammate Manuel Locatelli and then proceeded to dribble his way towards a shooting chance that never came in a packed penalty area at the Allianz Stadium.
Fortunately for the home side Locatelli was on hand seconds later to score the goal which ensured Juve won their second match on the bounce, but Allegri’s annoyance was clear.
It wasn’t the first time Chiesa has annoyed Allegri, who returned to the Juve bench this summer after two years away and has had a rocky start with his team in mid-table.
He targeted Chiesa for criticism after Juve’s 1-1 home draw against AC Milan, when he came on four minutes before Ante Rebic scored the Rossoneri’s equaliser and did little as Milan came close to snatching a win.
“He came on at a difficult moment and I needed him to bring the ball into the opposition’s midfield,” said Allegri.
“He’s a good player but he needs to grow up and realise what he is capable of doing we’re Juventus.”
The message was clear: Chiesa has everything he needs to become a great player but isn’t doing it yet.
The lack of trust in him from Allegri comes in stark contrast to the way he worked his way into Italian football history at the Euro, fighting for and winning a place in Roberto Mancini’s first XI.
He didn’t make his first start until the third group match against Wales with qualification for the knockouts already decided, and it wasn’t until he came off the bench to open the scoring in extra-time against Austria in the last 16 that he cemented his place in Mancini’s front three.
With Dybala and Morata out there is more room for him to make an impact in a huge test for Juventus, as Chelsea come to town keen to bounce back from their home defeat to Manchester on City.
It is also a chance to make a stronger impression ahead of the coming international break, during which Italy will try to add the Nations League to their trophy cabinet, as a clutch of attacking talent is snapping at his heels for a opportunity to play for the European champions.