Juventus-Cagliari Preview: Round 37 — Trophy day in Turin

Valerio Pennicino

RAISE THE TROPHY. RAISE THE TROPHY.

One last home game this season. One last chance to see Antonio Conte go nuts on the Juventus Stadium sideline this season. Catch 'em while you still can, folks. Soon they'll be off getting a tan on a luxurious beach with their families and/or on international duty in the Confederations Cup in Brazil.

Ah, but another chance to see Juventus players lift a Scudetto above their heads. And for Gigi Buffon, it's the first time to be the first one to kiss said trophy and then hoist it above his head as Juve captain. That means all isn't lost just because the Bianconeri are playing their final game of the season in front of the faithful fans at Juventus Stadium.

Well, that's actually just a bit of an understatement.

The one day of celebration represents the season-long effort put in by Conte and his squad. Sure, this season wasn't the completely mind-boggling triumph as it was a season ago, but this is the Scudetto. Juventus were the hands-down favorite to repeat as champions — and that's exactly what they in completely convincing fashion.

Saturday will be a day we should cherish. It should be a day where we thank the dear heavens that Antonio Conte is the manager of our favorite team. And we should be thankful that we've been able to witness two Scudetto victories in as many years.

Who can say that?

Wait, I'll answer that for you: Not very many.

GOOD NEWS

First there was a Scudetto parade last weekend, now there shall be a Scudetto-lifting ceremony.

Good news? Try incredibly awesome news. Why? Let's be honest: Nineteen other teams in Serie A aren't going to be doing what Juve will be after a 90-minute match is over with. This Scudetto-lifting party is a table-for-one kind of situation. Others shall have to wait their turn.

BAD NEWS

The lifting of the Scudetto signifies only one negative: The season is basically over and done with. Two games remain in what has been another great campaign for Conte and crew.

And on the suspension front, midfielders Andrea Pirlo (yellow cards) and Paul Pogba (spitting in somebody's face) are suspended for the last home match of the season. Hey, if Conte wasn't sure he should play some of the backups or not, at least they made decision easy on him, right?

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

1. NEW JERSEYS NEW JERSEYS NEW JERSEYS NEW JERSEYS.

2. Whether or not Antonio Conte will revert back to as much of the starting XI that he can. The Gazzetta seems to think that it's a mixture of the two, and most of the time they'll be right on with that kind of stuff. It's understandable that Conte was to give some of his reserves some playing time. He's relied so heavily on the likes of Barzagli, Vidal, Marchisio and so on, that a little time off with the Scudetto wrapped up won't hurt anybody, right? That's the luxury of having it won with a few weeks ago.

3. Luca Marrone in his new role which is actually his old role. OR SOMETHING. If you told me at this point last season that young Luca would spend more time as a defender than as a midfielder, I probably would've had a big belly laugh and then went on my way. But that's the way Conte has decided to go with Marrone being Leonardo Bonucci's understudy. With Pirlo's suspension, Marrone will be back in his more natural regista-like role in all likelihood, the first time he has done so since Juve were still in the Coppa Italia.

And while he obviously hasn't played in as many matches as others, I want to share something with you: 92.8. That's Marrone's pass completion percentage in Serie A this season. Whether he's a defender or a midfielder, the kid has talent. There's no denying that.

4. Can Mauricio Isla keep the good times going? Out of a pretty drab and unentertaining game — outside of what was going on in the stands, of course — Isla was a definite bright spot. It was his first start in months and months and months. He had rarely been seen, making a few cameo appearances in the past couple of weeks. But that's it. There hadn't been that one signature moment where we could point to and be reminded of the player prior to his big-time knee injury. That was until Wednesday against Atalanta in Bergamo. It was clearly his best game in a Juventus jersey, be it small sample size or not. The GDS is tipping him to start against Cagliari — and I'd be all for it.

5. Keep the winning streak going. Keep the chance to break the club record for points in a season going. Having double-digit win streaks are cool, ya know. Just a suggestion.

My starting XI (3-5-2): Buffon; Caceres, Bonucci, Chiellini; Isla, Vidal, Marrone, Marchisio, Asamoah; Quagliarella, Matri

OFFICIAL KICKOFF TIME: 6 P.M. IN ITALY; HIGH NOON ON THE EAST COAST; 9 A.M. ON THE WEST COAST

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