The countdown can be started. Juventus are close — hell, really, really close — to Scudetto No. 31. And in one of the last "big" games of the season, Antonio Conte's squad is moving that much closer to a second straight league title. Not bad, gents, not bad at all.
This, without a doubt, is the final charge. Once Milan get past Milan (hopefully in good shape), then it's nothing but the bottom half of the Serie A table from there on out. You can't really draw it up any better than that, people. There's still the games to be played, of course, but Juve should start planning the parade route and reserving a few extra security guards for a couple weeks down the road. I'm not sayin', but I'm just sayin'.
There's only one way to get there...
For the meantime, though, all focus is on Milan — a squad that is in their own fight for not only a top three finish, but the chance to avoid a Champions League playoff spot and get the ticket straight into the group stages. They've charged up the Serie A table in the second half of the season, eliminating a piss-pour start to the campaign and making it actually worth something worthwhile.
That means one of Italy's biggest matches has somewhat of its luster back. It might not be like one of the battles of old where it will have a direct impact on who wins the Scudetto, but there's still a lot to play for on both sides of the table. Different objectives on each side, but still something meaningful.
And, in the grand scheme of things, shouldn't it be like that?
Juventus XI (3-5-1-1): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Pirlo, Pogba, Asamoah; Marchisio; Vucnic
Juventus bench: Storari, Rubinho, Caceres, De Ceglie, Peluso, Bendtner, Padoin, Giaccherini, Quagliarella, Matri, Isla, Marrone
Milan XI (4-3-3): Abbiati; Abate, Zapata, Mexes, Constant; Montolivo, Ambrosini, Boateng; El Shaarawy, Pazzini, Robinho
Milan bench: Amelia, Narduzzo, Yepes, Antonini, De Sciglio, Bonera, Zaccardo, Traore, Nocerino, Muntari, Bojan, Niang