Having just turned 30 back in March, Paul Pogba should be at the height of his powers in the Juventus midfield. But the Frenchman has been so riddled by injuries that Sunday's Serie A match between Juve and Cremonese at Allianz Stadium represented his first start since turning out for Manchester United against Norwich back in April of 2022.
For fans of the beautiful game, it's been a tremendous loss — the World Cup winner, when healthy and in form, is an otherworldly mezzala, capable of things his peers can only conjure in their imaginations.
But 2019-20 was lost to a reoccurring ankle injury, 2020-21 saw ankle and hamstring troubles while 2021-22 was all about hamstring and calf setbacks. 2022-23, after signing a four-year contract with Juve as a free agent, has been his most limited yet.
Knee, thigh and abductor problems had almost entirely muted his return to Turin, but it looked like Juve's reprieve off the pitch (the 15-point deduction overturned on 4/20) would coincide with another instance of #Pogback.
Pogba earned his start Sunday after getting the assist on Federico Gatti's late equalizer against Sevilla in the Europa League on Thursday during a 20-minute appearance off the bench, but he went down with an apparent thigh injury inside 24 minutes against Cremonese.
With only three Serie A matches remaining in the season, Pogba's campaign is likely over.
Paul Pogba's first start since April 2022 lasts 24 minutes as he goes off injured. pic.twitter.com/lUPaxcehLz
22-year-old Nicolò Fagioli (who spent last season on loan at Cremonese) scored the winner for Juve in the 55th-minute off Federico Chiesa's assist. Bremer added a second in the 79th-minute for a final scoreline of 2-0.
Nicolò Fagioli gets the Allianz Stadium to its feet with a beautiful finish. pic.twitter.com/b520td4MSc
Bremer grabs Juventus' second goal of the day in style. pic.twitter.com/diwRaNABc6
Juve also debuted their new home kits for 2023-24. There's an electric yellow for the Jeep sponsorship, adidas branding and Juventus badge, while the traditional stripes have been given a furry effect to really accentuate the club's "Le Zebre" ("The Zebras") nickname.
The new prematch tops are also all about the connection with zebras.
I think it's pretty cool. There's only so much you can do with black and white stripes over the course of 125+ years.