It seems like only yesterday when we were discussing whom Juventus had called up to the preseason camp and what jersey numbers said players might have. Well, it was actually six weeks ago, but you probably get my point.
In less than 24 hours, Juventus will be opening the 2012-13 campaign. Every Juventus player will sport a patch on their jersey that represents what the squad achieved a season prior — Lo Scudetto. The day where the title defense begins is officially here. No more waiting, no more stressing about calcio not being in our lives on a regular basis anymore.
For the next nine months, we will be consumed by Black and White. Get ready, folks; the season is finally upon us and there is nothing you can do about it. Your ability to eject has been revoked. We're in for the long haul, ladies and gentlemen.
And, with that, I have one more thing to say: AVANTI!
Well, maybe a couple of more things.
The first match of this season brings a familiar foe: Parma. Just like last year — with a little help from the strike — Juve opened their season against Parma at Juventus Stadium. That, of course, was a 4-1 thrashing that opened the stadio with an absolutely beautiful display.
But that was then and this is now. As we saw last season, Parma went from relegation battlers to a Top 10 finish within a few short months under Roberto Donadoni's leadership. Of course they had a little ant leading the way for them. Don't know what he's up to these days....
Things change and we don't have to look far for even more evidence than that.
Juventus clearly have different objectives than this time last year. Twelve months earlier, getting to the Champions League was the goal. Now, being a serious contender for the trophy with big ears is something that should seriously be one of the top priorities besides keeping that Italian badge on the front of the jerseys.
Juventus have a 39-game unbeaten streak in Serie A. I'm pretty sure your argument is invalid.
There are games that mean something. This will be the first game that Juventus Stadium has seen since the middle of May. Put those two things together and you'll likely get a sold-out crowd that's absolutely rockin'. The players absolutely love the atmosphere and we saw how much that factor into the results last season.
It's good to be home.
Injuries. I don't know what else to say. No Giorgio Chiellini (maybe). No Gianluigi Buffon. No Martin Caceres. No Mauricio Isla. That's a pretty good chunk of talent that will not be taking part in Juventus' opener — even if Chiello somehow recovers in time. Luckily to counteract the bad news, Marco Storari and Stephan Lichtsteiner exist and are complete badasses. Take that, injuries. Having a squad with awesome depth is a pretty incredible thing.
There's also this guy, that guy, and the other guy. Ex-Juventini are everywhere on Parma. The Ex Effect can stay away. I'll be more than happy with it. But if I have to see Amauri score a goal that actually means something, I'll bash my head against the wall for hours. (Apparently he's injured, so crisis averted.)
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
- What kind of impact Giorgio Chiellini has — if he plays. He was the only regular squad player not used during the A vs. B game on Thursday and didn't see the field at all during the Trofeo Berlusconi. Does Chiellini try to get back for the season opener or, if he's not ready, will he do the smart thing and not rush back?
- Luca Marrone or Lucio? That's the decision at hand if Chiellini doesn't take part. Marrone has shown absolute class in the preseason as a makeshift center back. Lucio obviously has all the experience going for him, but Marrone has been as well as anybody during Juventus' preseason friendlies and isn't just a slick passer out of the back. What I'm trying to say is this: Luca Marrone should start.
UPDATE: Chiellini included in the 22-man squad, Lucio isn't. Maybe they've decided all of this for us.
- Strikers in the non-Giovinco category. Super Seba has been lighting up preseason friendlies, which is really pretty awesome to see. But does Conte — come on, you know he's making up the lineup — go with the guy who impressed in the Supercoppa, Mirko Vucinic, or the guy who lead the team in goals during the preseason, Alessandro Matri? My money's on #MirkoStache.
- I know I mentioned it before, but the Juventus Stadium atmosphere is going to be exceptional. It's not because I don't expect the stadio to be cranking up the decibels with the new season finally arriving, but because I've missed it. Yes, it's true. I missed you, Juventus Stadium.
My starting XI (3-5-2): Storari; Bonucci, Marrone, Barzagli; Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah; Giovinco, Vucinic
Make it happen.