Art by @sposatoalnemico on Twitter. He's awesome, as you can see.
The culmination of a truly fantastic campaign is upon us. Instead of ending things with the Scudetto held above Capitano's head, we get a little extra football. Can't complain about that — especially since it actually means something, not a throw-in trip to North America at the end of the season where Juve lose to the New York Red Bulls. (No, I'm not bitter at all about that.)
Yep, it's Coppa Italia time. Juve's got one new star to add to it's jersey for next season (knock on wood), now it's time to go get another.
One last game before our boys head off to Euro 2012 or — if they aren't taking part — a nice vacation spot that includes beaches, lots of sun, a flatscreen television or two, and probably a couple of cocktails. It's been one of the best seasons in the history of our glorious club. What better way to end it than with another win?
Yeah, that's what I thought.
Le Chiavi: As we all probably remember, two of Juventus' most exciting games of the season came against the rivals to the south. One seem to bring upon a heart attack every minute or two, the other — a 3-0 thrashing of Napoli at Juventus Stadium on April Fools' Day — brought nothing but absolute joy.
One last game this season. One last trophy to win this season. And (hopefully not) one last game for Alessandro Del Piero in a Juventus jersey.
Good news: As I noted above, Juve's success against Napoli this season is certainly a good omen. But this time Napoli isn't coming off a Champions League exit and so-so run of form. The Azzurri have right the ship and ended the Serie A season with four wins in their last six games. I know that doesn't exactly scream "JUVE'S GONNA CRUSH EM AGAIN!" or anything like that, but hey, I'm here to point out the facts, people.
As we all know, though, there's that whole best defense in the history of Serie A thing going for Juventus, which is nice to have in our back pocket. But there's a catch this weekend....
(Insert professional transition music here)
Bad news: We've known it all week, but it bears repeating: Chiellini's out due to the thigh injury he sustained in the regular season finale against Atalanta. Same with Paolo De Ceglie, who has been out for the last couple of weeks. It's certainly a loss to not have both of those two in the lineup, but Conte has options of what direction to go — be it a different formation or having somebody like Martin Caceres fill the void.
Much bigger than the game, of course, is that Del Piero is saying goodbye after this game. Rumors have popped up during the week regarding a possible contract extension, but who really knows at this point. Every action Juve and Ale are taking — including a special patch to be worn on the kit — point to this Coppa final being the final game of his Juve career. So if this really is Capitano's last game in Black and White, enjoy and cherish the hell out of it, people. I know I will.
The callups: Buffon, Caceres, Pepe, Marchisio, Del Piero, Manninger, Vucinic, Barzagli, Quagliarella, Bonucci, Padoin, Pirlo, Vidal, Borriello, Giaccherini, Lichtsteiner, Estigarribia, Storari, Matri, Marrone
My Starting XI (3-5-2): Storari; Barzagli, Bonucci, Caceres; Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio, Pepe; Vucinic, Del Piero