Juventus vs. Atalanta Preview: Round 36 — It's time to celebrate

Maurizio Lagana

For months on end we've heard how winning the Scudetto for a third straight season is Antonio Conte's No. 1 priority this season. We heard it weeks before the season started. We heard it weeks before I was standing a couple feet away from Andrea Pirlo's world-famous beard. We've heard it — a lot — throughout the season, too.

If anything, Scudetto No. 32 has been on Antonio Conte's mind ever since the day after he won the 31st of Juve's storied history last season.

And when Juve take the field against Atalanta tomorrow night in Turin, No. 32 will be signed, sealed, and delivered. Is it a little less thrilling considering what happened the last time Juve were on the Juventus Stadium field? Yeah, maybe — MAYBE! — a little bit because doing well in Europe is important to us all and that was such a unique opportunity present to the Juventus team and the City of Turin. But this is something that few teams have done in the history of this incredibly historic club we call the Old Lady. It's special, regardless of what Juventus did just a few days prior.

I'd say that's a pretty solid way to ring in May 5 even if the Scudetto was technically won 24 hours earlier when Juventus weren't actually on the field.

Today is the first-full day as "Juventus, three-time champions." It has a better ring to it than "Juventus, two-time champions" if you ask me. That might be a biased opinion, but to that's what everybody else going to be saying, too, so I'm totally okay with every bit of it.

You don't need to think twice about the players cherishing this achievement based on what we saw from everybody in the aftermath of Juve clinching the Scudetto. Just look at some of the pictures on Juve's website from the celebration after Roma lost to Catania. Or, you can watch Antonio Conte come out of nowhere and (probably) unintentionally kick Dani Osvaldo in the face and then jump into Paul Pogba's waiting and open arms as the team celebrated like a bunch of wild children who just found out they're all going out for ice cream after the game.

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This is a team that is obviously going to be in a celebratory mood when they take the field against Atalanta tonight. And why shouldn't they? They know they've made history, and by the looks of things, they're damn happy about it. And so should we. This thing doesn't happen all that often.

That's enough reason to celebrate. Good times, people, good times.

I think Kool & The Gang is rather appropriate for a day like Monday where Juventus Stadium will be the place to be seen and the place to find a good number of festive people.

That was what Fernando Llorente pre-Scudetto party when Juve had just been knocked out of the Europa League by Benfica. Now that the good news has arrived a little earlier than a lot of us expected it to, we shall all celebrate. No matter where you are — near Turin or far from it — there will be a party during the 90 minutes of game time against Atalanta.

Oh, and vamos! You can't forget the vamos.

GOOD NEWS

Have I mentioned that Juventus have won their third straight Scudetto? Because they've won their third straight Scudetto.

BAD NEWS

No extra game at Juventus Stadium this season. That's too bad. I was kinda looking forward to Juve playing in their home stadium on May 14 and technically being considered the away team. It would have been so ironic and funny at the same time. Oh, well. Maybe next...I dunno when.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

1. If Juventus play like they actually want to play the game, or just go through the motions.

If Juventus didn't lock up the Scudetto on Sunday without actually playing the question would have been a pretty simple one — "How pissed off are Juve going to be after Thursday's Europa League disappointment?" But because there isn't the whole "We can wrap up the Scudetto today" thing going on tonight in Turin, it's not exactly a game that screams "We're gong all out, so just bring it, baby." Or maybe it does, I don't know. But it's understandable if there's a bit of a sluggishness amongst the players. It's not that often a team gets to celebrate winning the title before actually going out and playing the regularly-scheduled game.

2. Staying on the pace for 100 points.

This, of course, is the only real achievement Juventus will still be shooting for in the season's final three games. Conte loves him some wins — and who doesn't? — and that has spurned rumors that Juve will go away from starting a lot of their reserves and play close to the same lineup that was out there against Benfica on Thursday night. There might be some truth to that considering Conte wants to win and win and win some more. And the only way to get to triple digits in points is if Juve, who are currently sitting on 93 points, win two and draw another at the very minimum.

3. How much squad rotation now that the Scudetto is locked up.

If Juventus were to be playing for the Scudetto today, the predicted lineup a few lines down the page would have looked a whoooole lot different than it does right now. But because Roma lost to Catania and Juve got the Scudetto wrapped up, there quite possibly could be a ton of squad rotation going on. You know, like Coppa Italia squad rotation happening. That's what logic tells you, doesn't it? But, like I said above, there's also the fact that Juve is charging towards the 100-point mark. And with Conte at the helm, you never really know if there's going to be a ton of squad rotation happening unless it actually is in the Coppa Italia.

4. The party at Juventus Stadium.

By the time Juventus-Atalanta kicks off in Turin, it will have been about 28 hours since Juve clinched the Scudetto. That's a lot of time to celebrate — and there's no reason to think that it's even stopped. I don't think I really need to say a lot more than that. There will be a lot of black and white, a lot of happy people, a lot of happy folks who have their paychecks signed by Andrea Agnelli every week. Just a lot of happiness going on at Juventus Stadium. The celebration calls for it, folks.

My starting XI (3-5-2): Storari; Cáceres, Ogbonna, Peluso; Isla, Padoin, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah; Quagliarella, Giovinco

OFFICIAL KICKOFF TIME: 9 P.M. IN ITALY; 3 P.M. ON THE EAST COAST; HIGH NOON ON THE WEST COAST

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