Italian Recap: McKennie Starts in Juve Champions League Warmup

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Weston McKennie was back in the Bianconeri’s midfield as they prepared for PSG with a draw at Fiorentina, while an off-night for the Americans at Venezia saw only Jack de Vries and Andrija Novakovich play minor roles in their loss to Benevento.

Fiorentina 1 – 1 Juventus

Weston McKennie was back in the Bianconeri starting lineup on Saturday night, playing the full game on the left side of the midfield in their disappointing, albeit lucky 1-1 draw at Fiorentina.

The American star was deployed at his now-customary left-sided midfield role by Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri with limited success. He had only 29 total touches with no shots taken or chances created, however completed 17 of 19 passes, with a perfect four-for-four accuracy on long-balls, three clearances, and a 50% rate on his six duels.

However, the game will be mostly remembered for an uncharacteristically timid moment that could have given Juventus a chance at pushing for the win.

The Bianconeri did take an early lead after less than nine minutes. Juan Cuadrado whipped a long cross from the endline on the right edge of the area to the far side of the six-yard box. While Filip Kostic’s sweeping one-time shot looked likely to head wide of the left post, Arkadiusz Milik stooped down to redirect the ball over the line for the 1-0 lead for the visitors.

McKennie had a good, albeit far from sure, chance to double the lead just before the 28-minute mark, when he received the ball in a wide-open position on the right side of the area, with only Fiorentina keeper Pietro Terracciano standing in his way. Rather than attempt to take on the keeper or simply fire a shot at the corner, he instead squared it to a crowd of players near the penalty spot, effectively ending the opportunity.

Less than one minute later, the hosts equalized; following a Juve corner, Riccardo Sottil recovered a high block deep in the midfield and picked out Christian Kouamé streaking freely up his right side. The Ivorian attacker worked his way into the right side of the area and beat Mattia Perin with his low-roller to the near-post.

Just before the half, Juventus could count themselves lucky to not have conceded the go-ahead goal. Following an intervention by the VAR crew, Leandro Daniel Paredes was found guilty of a handball infraction, however Luka Jovic struck the resulting spot kick off of the upright.

Entering the second half, Allegri pulled the frail and largely ineffective Ángel di Maria off the field in favor of defender Mattia de Sciglio, shifting Juan Cuadrado into his more traditional attacking role. However it had little impact to liven up the proceedings, with the teams battling to a draw.

Juve finish the round with nine points from their first five games, although with only a win in their previous four. They visit PSG on Tuesday in the Champions League, then host Salernitana on Sunday.

Venezia FC 0 – 2 Benevento

An off night for Venezia ended in a shut-out loss at home to Benevento, with Jack de Vries and Andrija Novakovich being the only two of the hosts’ fleet of Americans to take the field.

The 20 year-old de Vries got the start on the right wing for the Winged Lions, however only lasted the first half before being switched in favor of attacker Dennis Johnsen. During his 45 minutes, he had 20 touches, completed 12 of 14 passes, didn’t take any shots or create any chances, made three recoveries, and one one of two duels.

Gianluca Busio is still recovering from an injury and didn’t make the squad, while both Tanner Tessmann and Patrick Leal were unused substitutes.

After a scoreless first half that saw Benevento the more dangerous aggressor, apart from a goal from Venezia’s Aaron Connolly that was whistled back for offside, the visitors opened the scoring shortly past the break.

In the 52nd minute, a poor headed clearance in front of the Venezia goal saw the ball drop at Antonino La Gumina’s foot on the right side. He took one touch to settle, then struck a low bouncer to the near post for the 1-0 advantage.

Novakovich entered in the 71st minute for Pohjanpalo, and managed a pair of shots in his 20-plus minutes, including a snap header that was pushed over by Benevento keeper Alberto Paleari, however the visitors were once again celebrating with 13 minutes left on the clock.

Edoardo Maschiangelo received a pass on a run into the right side of the area and hit a short ball back to Ilias Koutsoupias just beyond the penalty spot for a looping ten-yarder that brushed the underside of the crossbar into the nets.

The loss continues Venezia’s disappointingly slow start, which leaves them in 14th place after four games. They return to the field on Sunday with a visit to SPAL Ferrera.


New AC Milan arrival Sergiño Dest was on the Rossoneri bench but not called into action on Saturday for their 3-2 win over city rivals Inter Milan.

Anthony Fontana was left off of Ascoli’s gameday roster on Saturday afternoon for their 0-0 draw ag home against Cittadella in Serie B action.


David Smith

I'm YA's resident doctor, but not the kind of doctor you would want giving you an examination anywhere outside of a lecture hall. I've been YA's feet-on-the-ground in Germany since 2008, have an affinity for overly verbose descriptions of irrelevant minutiae, keep an eye on YAs in most of the destinations on mainland Europe, and watch a whole lot of Serie A.

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