Juventus Stadium, I've missed you. I know it's only been a few days, but I missed you. Thank you.
It's not exactly the most insightful way to look at the way Juventus' schedule is about to be, but I'm gonna say it anyways: It's about to get real real.
Thank you! Goodnight everybody! Thanks for stopping by!
All right, so that's not the complete extent of this pre-match post. Not even close. This is Juventus-Lazio, which over the years has been anything but boring. Just look at the last time Lazio visited Juventus Stadium. Was that boring? Nope. And if you try to say so, then maybe we need to have a little talk.
This game, at least on paper, shouldn't really be any different.
Lazio are off to a pretty darn good start under Vladimir Petkovic, entering the tie against Juventus in fifth place. It's not exactly the kind of start that Juve have enjoyed — recording 31 points out of a possible 36 — but it's still very respectable, especially when you consider that it's under a new manager.
Still, there's the simple facts that 1) Juventus continuing the momentum that has been built in the post-Inter loss world and 2) this is the beginning of one hell of a stretch in the schedule that could determine not only how the Old Lady enters the month of December, but also what Juve may or may not be doing in Europe come January.
One word. You know it by now. AVANTI.
The train is rolling at high speeds again after the loss to Inter two weekends ago. And it hasn't been just a couple of wins and collect the three points, they've been absolute thumpings. It's the best kind of result that you could possibly see after a result like Juventus suffered back on the first Saturday in November. This team could have — and let me emphasize 'could have' — had some kind of hangover after the loss to Inter. Nope. That didn't happen. Now they've started another winning streak and are pretty much showing that the same old Juventus is still around.
The best out all of it, though: Juventus aren't blabbering to the press now. They're quietly going about they're business, not puffing out their chests because they've won two straight games. That's what I like to see — and (not) hear.
No Andrea Pirlo due to suspension. Pretty sure that's easy to figure out, folks.
Other than that, not much. Everybody is healthy and the team is playing well. Sounds good to me.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
1. The Pogba Effect. WHY? BECAUSE. Okay, seriously. Because it's pretty much established that the former Manchester United youngster who continues to make Sir Alex facepalm in frustration is the first center midfielder off the bench these days. And with Pirlo being out due to injury, there's really no argument as to who will step in and fill the maestro's void — Pogba.
2. Right-Wing Wackiness. No, no political discussions. In a post-Presidential election kind of time. This is regarding who will be starting on the right wing in Juventus' 3-5-2 formation. As you all can see below, I'm thinking Mauricio Isla should get the nod. Others may think that Stephan Lichtsteiner should get the start against his former club. The way Isla has played his past few starts, he's starting to show signs of the player we saw at Udinese the past couple of years. And if that really does continue, Isla should be in the starting lineup more often than not.
3. If Fabio Quagliarella can keep the good times going. As we discussed a few days ago, the importance of Quags regaining his pre-injury form is a major boost to the current Juventus side. The biggest thing on everybody's mind is now how long he can keep the goals coming. His goal-to-minute is insane right now. And to think he'd keep it at that level would certainly be a lot to ask of him. But, if he wants to score a goal or two over the next couple of games, I wouldn't object to it.
4. Who starts along with Quagliarella? To be honest, I don't know what could happen with this. Most media outlets in Italy are thinking it'll be Mirko Vucinic, who hasn't played much at all the last few weeks. Many of us will probably be leaning towards Sebastian Giovinco for the simple fact that he's playing well and seems to be forming a solid chemistry with Quagliarella. But Antonio Conte may continue to rotate away and start Nicklas Bendtner for all we know. Well, maybe not. But I dunno.
5. Not looking forward to Chelsea. But how do we know? Well, if Juventus come out flat as a damn board, then there will be your answer. I doubt that it will happen for the simple fact of what the few players who have done interviews have said. They wouldn't say anything bad, really, so maybe I'm just falling into a trap. But this isn't like some relegation side coming to town before Chelsea arrives in Turin. Saturday is a big game. Tuesday is even bigger.
My starting XI (3-5-2): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Isla, Vidal, Pogba, Marchisio, Asamoah; Vucinic, Quagliarella
KICKOFF TIME: 6 P.M. IN EUROPE, HIGH NOON ON THE EAST COAST, 9 A.M. OUT WEST