Juventus-Atalanta Preview: Round 36 — A new edition of The Hangover?

Valerio Pennicino

SCUDETTO'S WON. GOODNIGHT, EVERYBODY!

In case you hadn't noticed, there seems to be a trend developing in the last few weeks of the Juventus schedule the past two seasons. You might be wondering, "What could it be?" Well, let me tell you.

-- 2011-12: Juventus wins the Scudetto in Week 37, plays Atalanta in Week 38.

-- 2012-13: Juventus wins the Scudetto in Week 35, plays Atalanta in Week 36.

In the journalism business, one more occurrence and this would officially be considered a trend. But we'll just cut it to two and say that Atalanta are the official team that Juve plays the game after they win the Scudetto. Ya know, I can totally get used to this. So, if you're out there, Serie A schedule makers, feel free to make this a regular thing.

One minor — or major — difference depending on how you look at it: Last year it was at Juventus Stadium, this year Antonio Conte's men travel to Bergamo in the final mid-week game of the season. It's not the last hurrah of the year, but it's getting to be that time, isn't it? At least in a few days they'll be back in Turin to celebrate with the tifosi one last time before the season is over.

And then it's transfer season. Isn't that exciting?!?!

(Feel free to not answer that.)

Juventus will certainly have a different look to the side that clinched the title on Sunday against Palermo. That's only natural. There's only so much football these guys can handle after hours of parading around Turin with questionable inflated objects that also happen to be taller than some players on the roster.

They may be tired following their parade around town. However, they will certainly be ready. I mean, do we need to remind ourselves who the manager of this great club is again? I don't think so.

(But being reminded of a certain somebody getting dunked will never get tiring.)

GOOD NEWS

Hmmm, let me check....

...oh, that's right. Carry on as you were.

BAD NEWS

There's actual bad news this round as compared to confused dog gifs over the weekend. Why not more gifs for you all to look at? Because bad things happened, and now we most report on them.

The biggest post-Scudetto news, of course, is that midfielder Paul Pogba was slapped with a three-match ban after he had a little extra curricular activity in the moments following his shove in the face from Sal Aronica. That was the last we saw of the 20-year-old Frenchman, who had one of the best seasons out of anybody in his first year with the Italian champions.

But more importantly: Juventus only have three more games this season. So, get your fill while you can. The only thing we'll have between the end of May and the beginning of next season other than hundreds of transfer rumors is the Confederations Cup. And we all know how much Italy cared about that the last time they took part in it. (Hint: Not very much — at all.)

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

1. How much squad rotation will there be? For the record, I want there to be a lot of it. Luca Marrone deserves to play for the first time in weeks. Martin Caceres has barely seen the field since he came back from his post-car accident injuries. And what about Mauricio Isla? Well, we all know about how that has gone the past few months. But since the Scudetto is signed, sealed and delivered, Conte should take advantage of it and give some of the reserves a little bit of playing time. The keyword is "should," though. Who knows what's going on in Conte's head when it comes to his lineups sometimes.

2. Transitioning back to the 3-5-2. No more of the 3-5-1-1 this season. That's presumption with Paul Pogba suspended for the rest of the season. Who will Conte roll with up top? It's pretty much anybody's guess at this point seeing as squad rotation will probably be happening all over the place. However, it's been a few weeks since Conte rolled with his his 3-5-2 formation. Do I think the move back to it will be tough? Nah, not when they're that familiar with it. But the effectiveness of Juve's attack will certainly be under close watch by the man who named said starting XI.

3. Juventus' mental state. They aren't coming off a crushing defeat or anything like that. The last time that happened after the trip to Germany? Well, they went on an five-game unbeaten run in Serie A and wrapped up the Scudetto. But this is something different: Trying to rev engines back up 72 hours after one hell of a Scudetto celebration. Last year they only had to worry about one game after the title was won. This year, however, it's three. And it's not like Conte will let the squad let up or anything like that. That's just not how he rolls, people.

4. The final push for Capello's record. The most points in club history? 91, set by Fabio Cappelo's Juventus squad when they won the Scudetto in the 2005-06 season. As it stands right now, Conte's Juventus is eight point shy of the record, meaning they have to win out the final three games to be alone at the top of that record. Word is Conte wants to break Capello's record — surprise, surprise. Just another reason to think that this team will be ready to roll come kickoff on Wednesday.

My starting XI (3-5-2): Storari; Caceres, Bonucci, Peluso; Isla, Vidal, Marrone, Marchisio, De Ceglie; Quagliarella, Giovinco

OFFICIAL KICKOFF TIME: 8:45 P.M. IN ITALY; 2:45 P.M. ON THE EAST COAST; 11:45 A.M. ON THE WEST COAST

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