The loss of Claudio Marchisio to a torn ACL in his left knee has dampened the mood at Juventus. The midfielder will not be available until October, and it remains to be seen how Juve will cope without him.
For one thing, who will replace him in the side's remaining five league games this season? For another, how much will the lack of preseason training affect the player going into next season?
While the midfielder has coped admirably in Andrea Pirlo's former role, exercising his abilities as a director while offering so much on the defensive side, it is his winning mentality that Massimiliano Allegri will miss the most. A player who has grown up in the Bianconeri jersey, few care about the state of the team as much as he does.
Always one to sacrifice himself for the unit, Marchisio has the best pass-completion rate of any Juventus regular. No player in the team has managed as many interceptions as the keen-tackling Italian this season, as he has consistently looked to win possession and spread play. His tactical intelligence knows no bounds, allowing him the versatility that has made him a valuable member of the team, yet one cannot help but miss the role the midfielder once held: that of a shuttler.
In his old position, he used to offer a vertical edge, using his understanding of play to make the right runs and drag the team forward. Scoring goals and creating space for others while simultaneously knowing when to run back and offer his help to the defence, Marchisio was like few others and worked superbly well alongside Arturo Vidal.
Sami Khedira has come into the side and offered much in a similar role but does not boast the Italian's dynamism. Marchisio's deep-lying role this season has somewhat changed the way Juventus play, and while they will continue in that sensational manner -- winning 24 of their past 25 matches -- regular viewers can't help but feel the midfielder is wasting his talent in such a role.
His injury could mean the Old Lady will need to act in the summer transfer market. The club's directors have long been in the hunt for a Pirlo-like player, considering it seems neither Hernanes nor Mario Lemina are ideal for the role. The former seems weak and capable of huge errors, while the latter still has much to learn from a tactical point of view, and Marchisio's injury will only confirm the need for investment.
It seems Allegri will depend on Lemina in the coming weeks, and the youngster will be eager to play with more consistency. While he boasts energy and determination, the player is still so raw and must learn when to resist the urge to charge. But both the coach and the directors say they believe in his quality and think he has potential. If Lemina is nurtured properly and offered the chance to play alongside more experienced teammates, the next few games should help the youngster develop and prove he's worth the investment Juventus are hesitant to make.
It's likely Lemina will be deployed from the start in Wednesday's match against a newly energised Lazio. With Simone Inzaghi on the bench, the Aquile have won their past two games with players offering more energy than they did under former manager Stefano Pioli. Sadly for them, they will be missing key players of their own, including the much loved Antonio Candreva.
It's vital Juventus get another win and do so with precision. In these past few weeks, we have witnessed a Bianconeri side susceptible to lapses of concentration and sloppiness, committing the kind of errors that would be harshly punished by better sides. While their collective and individual talent make them a superior side, a well-organised unit such as this current Lazio team could hurt them, and the last thing Allegri needs is another performance riddled with mistakes and nonchalance.
This has been a beautiful season for Juventus, demonstrating that despite their early-season form and the errors made throughout the club, the investment and planning of a brilliant project makes them the best Italy has to offer. After all, according to Forbes, the Turin outfit were the seventh most profitable club in Europe last season and another title this year will further reaffirm their quality.