In the middle of its toughest Serie A title fight in years and an imposing Champions League matchup against Tottenham on the horizon, Juventus has lost its midfield rock.
The Italian club announced Monday that Blaise Matuidi has a muscle tear in his left thigh, and while there was no official timetable given in the club release, reports suggest he will miss at least a month.
The 30-year-old was injured in the 7-0 drubbing of Sassuolo over the weekend, withdrawn after just 26 minutes. The injury was not considered serious at first, and he was taken off with the team already 2-0 up and the game under control. However, tests showed a problem worse than initially feared, and now he will face a spell on the sidelines.
Matuidi has appeared in 20 of the team’s 23 Serie A games, starting 16 of them. He’s also appeared in all six of their Champions League matches so far, with three starts. A strong CM with good ball-winning abilities and a crunching style, Matuidi is a huge loss for Juventus as they prepare for the high pressing Spurs in Champions League play. He will most certainly miss the first leg on February 13, while he could be in contention for a return for the second leg on March 7. His status will also be up in the air for a critical Serie A game against third-placed Lazio on March 3.
In 10 games since a 3-2 loss to Sampdoria on November 19, Juventus has astonishingly conceded just one goal in Serie A play, with Matuidi starting in all but two of those matches.
Massamiliano Allegri has rotated Matuidi, Miralem Pjanic, Sami Khedira, and Stefano Sturaro in midfield for much of the season, the bulk of the work will now fall on the remaining three to take over Matuidi’s minutes. “He has the traits that when I play with 3 midfielders I can play either him or Sturaro,” Allegri said after the Sassuolo match.
Sturaro will likely be the biggest benefactor, having made just seven league appearances thus far. Juve is a point back of Napoli in the title race, with Lazio a significant distance behind in third. They are not scheduled to play Napoli again until late April.
Juventus is already without Paulo Dybala and Juan Cuadrado with injuries.